You may believe that Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman is right to challenge the Government’s investigation into alleged financial malpractice at the Town Hall.

You may believe that the council’s publicly funded bid for a judicial review is a necessary David-and-Goliath battle to protect a fragile branch of democracy from Eric Pickles’ Communities Department.

You may also agree with Mr Rahman’s administration – that the description of the case as “hopeless” by High Court judge Sir Kenneth Parker – is no bar to further investment in the cause.

Mr Rahman, on the other hand, must find himself in something of a quandary.

Because his tendency is to side with the Goliaths, not the Davids. He inclines towards the ostentatious demonstration of power not the humble entreaty of the put-upon. He is, shall we say, more Eric Pickles than Alex Salmond.

Here’s an example.

When Cllr Peter Golds (a “David” if ever there was one) raised an emergency motion questioning the wisdom and cost of the judicial review, the mayor’s Tower Hamlets First party walked out the council chamber.

They cited “risk of contempt of court” as an excuse, although it is a flimsy one because “contempt” is not the one-size-fits-all censor their hasty exodus required.

Cllr Golds, the leader of the Conservative Group, called this evacuation “an absolute scandal” but won a small victory. In THF’s absence he gained support from Labour and secured an investigation into the decision-making process that led to the launch of this hugely expensive (and likely futile) legal action.

When we asked for a response to this episode, we received a comment from a “spokesperson for the mayor’s office” that reveals the dark heart of Rahmanism.

“Tory leader Peter Golds insisted on wasting valuable public and council time to force discussion on an unconcluded court case. Rather than risk contempt of court, councillors had to leave to defuse the situation.

“Cllr Golds has a habit of vindictive outbursts that put his political vendettas above serving residents, and after demanding legal intervention in Tower Hamlets, he should at least be able to respect the law.”

Personal attack

Is it really the job of the “mayor’s spokesperson” to launch a gratuitous, vile and personal attack on a leading councillor?

Is it really the job of the mayor’s licensed bullhorn to question the legitimacy of elected councillors who may wish to raise matters of public importance.

Or to suggest that pursuing accountability is a failure of public service (rather than its point).

I remember how Mr Rahman wept on election night, wearied by the assaults on his character from some on the fringes. This very public softening evidently did not spur him to change his ways (or his staff).

When cornered, he still returns to type. He unleashes his tax-funded attack dogs and sanctions the same sort of savaging that had brought him to tears.

Much has been made of the dawn of a new dawn of democracy in Scotland, with the full-throated engagement of the electorate, including the mobilisation of the hard-to-reach youth vote.

Politicians across the country want to foster that enthusiasm with inclusive platforms for a wider cross section of voices.

That high ideal will hit a stark, grey bulwark in east London.

For the counter-argument to engagement is Tower Hamlets Council. Here, where democracy is “a waste of time” and accountability bears the name “vendetta”, the mayor has a simple message to those who might rally to a different cause.

Shut up.

Whether you be councillor or taxpayer, if you dare raise your voice against the powerful ruling elite, you will trigger not enlightened debate nor even respect and dignity, but, instead, a torrent of blunt-headed rancour and insult.

Do not be a democrat in Tower Hamlets, says Lutfur Rahman and his clique. Do not be hopeful or engaged or even curious. Never raise your head or your heart or your hope because we have a hammer and we will hit back.

If “contempt” features in this episode, it is surely to be found in the actions of this backward conglomerate of the uncouth.