The man’s search for a tyrannical Fatherland never ends
I imagine I am not alone when I freely confess to having taken a great deal of satisfaction watching the British National Party leader Nick Griffin receive a roasting on Question Time 12 months ago, even as I winced a little at the unfairness of the four-against-one (plus audience) odds of the attack. Before Griffin appeared there were voices in the media warning that such exposure might have the unforeseen consequence of ‘boosting’ the far Right’s credentials with the electorate. Despite the relatively tepid quality of his interlocutors, however, they needn’t have worried: there sat Griffin, constantly on the back-foot; a shifty, squirming one-eyed fascist looking about as appealing as “a sweating sex offender” (in the words of Nick Cohen). Short of having resurrected Goebbels or Hitler, the BNP could hardly have chosen a leader less likely to win over the hearts and minds of the British populace had they tried. In the days following the broadcast we heard a lot of chatter about the British public’s innate sense of fairness undermining the BBC’s stated purpose of having him on. Rather than being repulsed by his views, some argued, people would warm to Griffin and his message because of the unfairly weighted harangue. Again, a little more faith in the populace was surely due: come the May 2010 election Griffin and his party were effectively decimated as a force in British politics. While all this is to the good – a cause for minor celebration even – what if I was to tell you that there existed a man who, in his own way, was just as extreme as Griffin, with views equally as repugnant (if not more so); a man who – I would argue – poses a much more insidious challenge to normative concepts of morality and civilisation than does Griffin, but that this man gets to make regular appearances on our mainstream news media (including Question Time) quite free from similar harassment? That he is, in fact, often greeted with applause at said appearances, and even fêted by some as a brave dissident voice? Where Griffin’s appearance is accompanied by brow-beating, soul-searching, and protests, this man’s rhetoric was – and in some cases still is – echoed by the supposedly liberal mainstream.
“Some days,” wrote poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, “although we cannot pray, a prayer utters itself.” My prayer, for what it’s worth, was a simple one: please God let George Galloway die in a plane crash. I am forever baffled by those well-meaning souls who admonish people for having ‘hate in their hearts’, just as I am suspicious of the Christian injunction to “love thine enemies” and “turn the other cheek.” Anger, as John Lydon once sang, is an energy: it can get you up in the morning; put a spring in your step; pump blood into the cheeks; bring meaning to the day. It seems to me incumbent on the moral individual, therefore, to pick his hatreds, and pick them well; to become hatred’s master, rather than its slave. “Nature seems (the more we look into it) made up of antipathies,” wrote the great 19th Century essayist William Hazlitt, “without something to hate, we should lose the very spring of thought and action…Love turns, with a little indulgence, to indifference or disgust: hatred alone is immortal.” If this is so, we ought to strive to put this impulse to some positive use. If, as seems the case, thought is inseparable from angst and conflict, the absurdity of such a situation enjoins us to pick fights where, at a minimum, serious points of essential principle are at stake. My hatred of George Galloway, then, is both visceral and intellectual: based upon both an animal instinct to skewer him on a pike and on an implacable revulsion with his every ideological utterance. It is something I luxuriate in. It is the gift that keeps on giving. How do I hate him? Let me count the ways…This kind of hatred is a great clarifier, too, bringing my own stance into sharper focus: he is everything I despise in a fellow human being. In case this seems over the top, or my wish too flippant; if you see Galloway merely as a joke, or, especially, if you are one of those for whom Galloway is a kind of folk rebel, I hope to demonstrate why you, too, should join me in my daydream.
The double standard that exists within our left-leaning liberal intelligentsia, whereby those on the far-Right are automatically vilified while those on the far-Left are seen as less deserving of approbation and treated accordingly, is nowhere more perfectly embodied than by the differing receptions afforded Griffin and Galloway in our public arena. During this year’s general election campaign “Gorgeous George” appeared on the BBC Daily Politics program, where he discussed several issues with host Andrew Neil. He was there prospecting for his candidacy as an MP for London’s Poplar and Limehouse constituency and proselytising on behalf of his “RESPECT” party. Towards the end of a brief discussion of NATO’s faltering efforts in Afghanistan, Galloway said something which I found extraordinary, even by his shameless standards. What I found – and still find – even more extraordinary was the fact that the usually astute Neil failed to pick up on Galloway’s remark. “There was a strong and stable government in Afghanistan,” he opined with that loquacious Glaswegian brogue of his, “but it was forced out by American collusion with the muhajideen.” If you fail to spot what is wrong with that sentence at first glance, I might ask you to re-read it and then to cast your eyes back to 1979. That’s right: Galloway was asserting – without being challenged – that Soviet Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan, in contrast to the NATO mission there, bought with it “strong and stable” government; the implication being that the Soviet invasion was therefore legitimate and moral, whereas the NATO intervention, with its UN mandate, is not. Such bald sophistry is not a rare slip of the tongue: it is an occupational hazard of being George Galloway. Try as he might to hide the more unpleasant aspects of his character from polite society, the man simply can’t help himself. I shouldn’t, really, have been so taken aback: the unnoticed confession that Galloway prefers totalitarianism to democracy isn’t the least bit out of character. Galloway, as we shall see, has form.
George Galloway became a Labour MP in 1987, representing first Glasgow’s Hillhead and later Kelvin. Galloway came from the left of the Left, combining what Nick Cohen has called, “blood-curdling rhetoric with a whining sentimentality, like many a political thug before him.” He was, in other words, exactly the kind of bombastic and belligerent backbencher who helped keep Labour out of power for 18 years, and who became increasingly irrelevant and side-lined once they re-branded the party and took power. Throughout the 90s Galloway seemed just another of the dwindling Marxist old-guard left to fester and fume at the back of the bus. 9/11 and Iraq changed all that. Suddenly people who would have previously dismissed him as an eccentric started taking him seriously. Galloway, I’m sure, still sees himself as the embodiment of the old school Left – part of a vanguard battling capitalist imperialism on behalf of the poor and oppressed of the world. Though it should be fairly easy to show that he is, in reality, little more than a cheerleader and appeaser for both progressive and reactionary forms of tyranny.
Galloway and the Soviet empire
Let’s start with 1991. While the rest of humanity was celebrating one of history’s moral moments, our Galloway, it seems, was in a paroxysm of despair. In a 2002 Guardian interview he said, quite unashamedly: “Yes, I did support the Soviet Union, and I think the disappearance of the Soviet Union is the biggest catastrophe of my life.” One shouldn’t underestimate the level of psychic trauma on display in Galloway’s remark: how much, exactly, must one “support” the Soviet Union in order for its dissolution to be considered catastrophic? “Catastrophe” is a strong word. Unlike, say, ‘disappointment’, it points to more than just being just a tad upset. And that’s before we even consider the fact that said catastrophe was the “biggest” such trauma of his life. What is an old leftie like Galloway to do in such a situation? He can go on hating America, of course (he can always do that), but he cannot exist entirely on negatives – he must align himself positively with some form of ideology. Galloway first found his replacement for the USSR in Saddam’s Iraq.
Galloway and Saddam
When Galloway gave his evasive, hectoring, and self-serving testimony to the US senate in 2005 (which many on the liberal/Left took to be a virtuoso piece of dissenting theatre), he bellowed that he had never been a defender of the Baathist regime, even going so far as to state he had been a critic of Saddam’s Iraq when Rumsfeld was busy shaking his hand (echoing the popular anti-war jibe that ‘we’ used to be Saddam’s ally). He’s right about the last part of that sentence – up to a point. It is, however, worth sketching Galloway’s evolving relationship to Iraq in order to see through the blatant falsity of the first part. In the late 70s and early 80s, while Saddam was consolidating his power in typical fascist style by ordering brutal purges of his political opponents and the army, Galloway was a member of the “Campaign Against Repression and for Democratic Rights in Iraq”. (It is worth, occasionally, casting the mind back to a time when the Left campaigned in opposition to Saddam’s regime.) After the 1991 Gulf War something must have changed because Galloway soon became about as close to the Baath Party as an obscure MP from Glasgow possibly could. (What had changed, of course, was the fact that Saddam was now America’s enemy: proving the obvious point that for a certain kind of Leftist anti-Americanism suffocates all other considerations.)
By 1994 Galloway could be seen standing where Rumsfeld had once stood, genuflecting before Saddam and saluting his “courage,” his “strength,” and his “indefatigablity,” after buttering up the mass murderer with the words: “I thought the President would like appreciate to know that even today, three years after the war, I still meet families who are calling their newborn sons Saddam.” Galloway has since claimed that he was saluting the Iraqi people in this address, and that his presence in Iraq was never about anything other than his concern for their suffering. Call me cynical, but my reading of the footage tells me something different. It is hard to see how Galloway’s words constitute criticism of Saddam, especially as he went on to claim he was “with [him] until victory, until Jerusalem.” (Why Jerusalem? That ought to be obvious, and will become apparent.)
Besides, this was far from Galloway’s only trip to Saddam’s Iraq. In fact, Galloway found it remarkably easy to gain access to a country not particularly noted for the openness of its borders. He admits to having met Saddam at least twice, even to being given chocolates by the tyrant. He also admits to having been friends with Saddam’s deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz – a known murderer, who was at the heart of the regime when it carried out such (hardly inconspicuous) atrocities as the gassing of the Kurds. In 1998 Galloway set up a charity – and I use the word ‘charity’ in its most loose and watery sense – called the “Mariam Appeal”, ostensibly set up to provide cancer treatment for an unfortunate young Iraqi girl called Mariam Hamza who was suffering from leukaemia (a malady which, the appeal asserted, was a direct consequence of America’s use of depleted uranium shells during the 1991 war). It’s other avowed aim was to lift the sanctions imposed on Saddam’s regime after its invasion of Kuwait. Seeing as how the main obstacle to their removal was the Baath regime, you might expect this self-proclaimed critic of Saddam to get a bit more critical. However, during a 1999 middle-eastern tour to promote his ‘charity’, he was rather damningly filmed warmly shaking hands with Saddam’s son Uday and greeting him with the words, “Your excellency, very, very nice to see you again” (note that again). Uday Hussein, you might remember, was very much his father’s son: a notorious torturer and rapist who is though to have personally played a part in thousands of deaths. Think of this man, if you will, as a Baathist Beria, and then ask yourself if you, too, could shake his hand?
The Charity Commission began an investigation of the Mariam Appeal in 2003. (This is not the first, nor the last time Galloway has fronted a charitable organisation that has come under such scrutiny – the Charity Commission began an investigation of the “War on Want” charity, of which he was head between 1983 and 1987. The commission’s 1991 report found that its finances had been badly mismanaged by Galloway and others at the head of the organisation, calling their book-keeping “materially misstated”. Galloway paid back £1, 720 of expenses. Last year another investigation was begun, this time into the Galloway linked Viva Palestina. To be investigated by the Charity Commission once may be regarded as a misfortune…) Although its final report was generous enough to concede that some of the Mariam Appeal’s aims were “charitable,” it noted that it was not registered as a charity. It also concluded that “some of the activities of the Appeal were political by nature,” and that, “the major funders of the Appeal were the United Arab Emirates, a donor from Saudi Arabia and a Jordanian Businessman Fawaz Zuriekat.” When it came to the all important question of the money trail, the commission was frustratingly partial in its conclusion: its line-of-inquiry had gone cold, due to the fact that most of the Mariam Appeal’s book-keeping was sent to Baghdad in 2001. Which is where the US Senate comes back in.
I can’t help wondering if those who viewed Galloway’s performance in front of the Senate as an act of great defiance haven’t conveniently overlooked the reason he was there. The subcommittee was investigating abuses of the UN Oil-for-Food program, whereby billions were made from illegally trading oil with the regime, with kick-backs being sent to Saddam and his cronies in the process. The senate report was given several documents intimately linking the aforementioned Jordanian businessman Fawaz Zuriekat with these illegal transactions. On some of these papers Galloway’s name appears in parenthesis alongside that of Zuriekat. Although, it must be stated, there was no evidence pointing directly and unequivocally to Galloway having received money, one is forced to ask the question: what, then, was Galloway’s name doing there? Especially if – as he has always maintained – he knew nothing of this sordid business? The nature of the relationship between Galloway and Zuriekat may be inferred in part from a letter from Galloway on House of Commons notepaper nominating Fawaz Zuriekat as his “representative in Baghdad on all matters concerning my work with the ‘Mariam Appeal’ or the Emergency Committee in Iraq,” and stating that, “it would be appreciated if all co-operation could be extended to him in his dealing on my behalf.”
Given all this, what Galloway is then expecting us to believe is that despite his being known for what might be generously termed ‘loose accounting’; despite his salutations to Saddam and Uday, his friendship with Tariq Aziz and Fawaz Zuriekat; despite his ease of entry in and out of a tightly controlled dictatorship; despite his ceaseless campaigning for the removal of the economic and military ties that bound the Baathists – he received no remuneration for his helpful efforts? Personally, I find it easier to believe in O. J. Simpson’s innocence. Under these circumstances, we can hardly have expected Galloway to support the removal of the very regime that could incriminate him in any ‘irregularities’. The last thing “Gorgeous George” wanted was to see was the filing cabinets of Baghdad being wrenched open and bought to light. All of this seemed to be forgotten by the media’s coverage of his testimony, which was almost universally awed. Indeed, you could be forgiven for assuming, given the nature of the reporting, that Galloway was actually there to argue the rights and wrongs of the 2003 invasion, rather than explain his connections to Zuriekat and the Baath regime. He treated the Senate floor like his personal soap-box, playing both the victim card and the attack dog side of his personality with abandon. He lectured the senators about the ‘illegal’ war and its ‘lies’. He bandied about the terms ‘neocons’ and AIPEC in typically sinister and conspiratorial terms. He ranted that he had “never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one,” though nobody, of course, was accusing of him of such. He said a lot of things, in fact, but he somehow never quite got around to explaining why his name appeared on those documents, or explaining the true nature of his relationship with Saddam’s Iraq.
Galloway and the Iraq war
We’ll probably never wade to the bottom of that murk, but even after the fall of Saddam, Galloway couldn’t relinquish his fondness for the deposed dictator and his works. Referencing the two biggest mass-murders in history, Galloway – in his entirely typically-titled 2005 autobiography I’m Not The Only One – writes nostalgically, “just as Stalin industrialised the soviet Union, so on a different scale Saddam plotted Iraq’s own Great Leap Forward.” Kuwait, over who’s sovereignty we went to war, is, apparently, “clearly a part of the greater Iraqi whole, stolen from the motherland by perfidious Albion,” even though Kuwait existed long before Iraq was created. Saddam’s mass-slaughter of the Kurds and Shia in 1991, meanwhile, is dismissed as, “a civil war with massive violence on both sides.” Do these sound like criticisms to you? Such a man, it seems, had many reasons to oppose the Iraq war, friendship being not the least of them. He was in luck, too: many, many people felt the same. He became one of the vice-presidents of the “Stop The War Coalition”, an organisation made up of members from the Socialist Workers Party, CND, and the Muslim Association of Britain – a forced marriage that would have been inconceivable before 9/11, but made a kind of dysfunctional sense after. The StWC helped organise the famous million-strong anti-war march in Feb of 2003. Here was a spectacle to behold: a motley crew Trotskyists, peaceniks, and, Islamists, leading a great crowd of well-meaning people, united in their loathing of Bush & Blair, and conveniently oblivious as to the true nature of the men piping up front.
Galloway’s smug visage seemed to be everywhere around this time: he was given generous inches in the liberal press, was repeatedly seen barking at people on Question Time, became a fixture on the 24hr news. He had sensed the zeitgeist and seized his moment. Those among the liberal media who dared to question his political leanings and associations were soon given short-shrift in serially bombastic Galloway fashion. Most just heard an anti-war critique that chimed with their own, and left it at that. He was the rebel MP – taking on Tony “Bliar” and his neocon buddies in no-holds-barred fashion. This reputation has suffered from a series of blows since, as shall be made clear, but I am surprised at how stubbornly it persisted.
The conflict in Iraq was barely two weeks old when Galloway appeared on Abu Dhabi TV calling Bush and Blair “wolves” and encouraging British troops to disobey “illegal” orders, before urging his Arab viewers to revolt: “Why don’t Arabs do something for the Iraqis? Where are the Arab armies? We wonder when the Arab leaders wake up? When are they going to stand by the Iraqi people?” These treasonous remarks lay behind Galloway’s expulsion from the Labour Party in October 2003, though he reacted as if he had been the victim of Stalinist censorship, declaring himself to have been subject to a “politically motivated kangaroo court whose verdict had been written in advance in the best tradition of political show trials,” and vowing to fight on. He lashed out with classic Galloway self-importance, announcing boldly that, “Labour will rue the day that they took this decision,” and stating that it was his intention to, “make sure that Tony Blair regrets this day.” (I think I can hazard a guess when I say that of all the decisions Tony Blair made during his long premiership, having Galloway expelled from Labour must have been among the very least regrettable.)
As the insurgency in Iraq began to build to frighteningly bloody levels, Galloway made it abundantly clear which side he was on, unable to show an ounce of solidarity with those trying to rebuild Iraqi civil society and lionising those forces – the Sunni militia, al Qaeda, and Shia death squads – trying their level best to destroy it: “These poor Iraqis – ragged people, with their sandals, with their Kalashnikovs, with the lightest and most basic of weapons – are writing the names of their cities and towns in the stars, with 145 military operations every day, which has made the country ungovernable.” Seeing as the 2003 invasion had robbed him of some valuable friends, Galloway began casting around for new allies, and by 2005 could be seen praising Basher al-Assad’s revolting Syrian dictatorship (a sworn enemy of Saddam). Come the following year’s war between Israel and Iranian-backed Hezbollah, and he could be seen screaming at a “Hands Off Lebanon” rally that, “Hezbollah has never been a terrorist organisation,” and telling his receptive Muslim audience that he was there to “glorify the Lebanese resistance,” and its leader Hassan Nazrallah. This was only the beginning of his relationship with all things Iranian.
Following his expulsion from the Labour party, Galloway helped form the “RESPECT” party, an acronym that stands for – wait for it – “Respect, Equality, Socialism, Peace, Environment, Community, and Trade Unionism” (so that should really read, as Galloway’s sometime bête noire Christopher Hitchens has pointed out, “RESPECTU”). Capitalising on the anti-war fervour then reaching hysterical levels, the party drew its support from the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Unity Network, Socialist Resistance, the Revolutionary Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), as well as the aforementioned Muslim Association of Britain, and the Muslim Council of Britain. It also pulled in such notable left-wing activists as George Monbiot and Ken Loach. In the 2005 election Galloway stood against Labour incumbent Oona King in the East London constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow – a catchment area that included many disaffected Bengali youth, and so one ripe for exploitation of both racial enmity and anti-war rage. King, one of the few black faces in Parliament and a woman of mixed African and Jewish descent, had to endure a quite disgusting smear campaign against her, rumours abounding that the “Jewish” King wanted to ban Halal meat and that she sent money to the Israeli army in order to kill Palestinians. She was subject to anti-Semitic abuse on her campaign trail more than once. For his part, Galloway (I’m sure such an honourable and upstanding politician would have had nothing to do with such underhand methods) accused King of having on her conscience, “the deaths of 100,000 people, including many women with faces a lot browner than hers.” Having unseated King by a mere few hundred votes, Galloway duly declared his meagre victory, “one of the most sensational election results in modern history.”
And how did our louche crusader celebrate and capitalise on one of the most sensational election results in modern history? He decided to fight the injustice of the Iraq war and bring down Blair’s government by going on Celebrity Big Brother and impersonated a cat. This incident did more than anything in reducing Galloway to a laughing stock among the kind of polite society that had been offered him such uncritical indulgence. Although I thoroughly enjoyed watching the scales fall from people’s eyes, it says something rather shameful, I think, about our society, when rather than rejecting Galloway for his boot-licking of Saddam and Uday Hussein and Basher al-Assad, despite his lionising of the Iraqi insurgency, and his pro-Hezbollah stance, what really put Galloway beyond the pale was the sight of him dressed in a pink jumpsuit and doing a crap dance. Galloway, of course, made out like he was on Celebrity Big Brother to highlight the cause of the Iraqis, which as a defence is about as solid as saying you only slept with the prostitute because you wanted to highlight all the good work you did for charity. To me his appearance on Big Brother seemed nothing if not logical: if Galloway has anything in common with the dictators he so clearly worships, it’s the pathological need to see his face and hear his voice absolutely everywhere.
Some at the time questioned, quite rightly, what an elected member of parliament was doing locked away with a load of deadwood celebrities. Shouldn’t he be doing, you know, MP stuff? He certainly should have been, but imprisonment in the Big Brother house wasn’t exactly robbing the House of Commons of one of its key members: in the years between being roundly voted off the program and 2009, Galloway had seen fit to turn up for a mere 1 in 20 votes, whilst simultaneously claiming a whopping £183,000 in expenses. Call me old-fashioned, but that seems an odd way to represent the best interests of his impoverished East London constituency.
Galloway and Iran
In fairness to Galloway, these were busy years. When he wasn’t in parliament (which is most of the time) he was presenting his Talksport radio show, where he could be heard, among other things, denying the Tienanmen Square massacre. If he wasn’t doing that, he was popping up on German TV and questioning the “official story” of 9/11, in between, as mentioned, bouts of campaigning on behalf of good old Hezbollah. In 2007 he began broadcasting his The Real Deal phone-in show on PRESS TV. For those who might mistake PRESS TV for a news organisation, this is no Reuters committed to impartial reportage – it is, in fact, an arm of the Iranian state. This, it seems to me, is fully the measure of the man. (I urge those still in doubt of the man’s character to check the preening and precious narcissism of the title sequence to The Real Deal. I honestly believe Galloway thinks this makes him look totally awesome.) Faced with a genuine revolutionary moment on the Iranian street in 2009, as a spontaneous and authentically popular uprising of young men and (crucially) women challenged the theocratic dictatorship that had stolen their election, Galloway thought only of his new bosses. Asked to choose between those being beaten down and shot, in other words, and those doing the beating and shooting, Galloway, being Galloway, sided with the Mullahs and the thugs. This year he got his reward for being a good mouth-piece for the regime, by being granted an “important and significant” (his words) interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Greeting the belligerent and bombastic Holocaust denier and 9/11 conspiracy theorist with the words “your excellency” (what else?) he sat and nodded coyly as his new favourite dictator asserted that NATOs efforts in Afghanistan and America’s intervention in Iraq were designed to stop economic development in India and China, and as he chuckled over the fate of the Iranian woman sentenced to stoning for adultery. When the interview turned to the subject of the Green movement (which Galloway referred to euphemistically as a “mini political earthquake”), Ahmadinejad declared, “we really have free and democratic elections,” and attempted to pin the blame for the uprising on the, “conspiracies and plans of the United States and its allies.” Galloway, for his part, couldn’t be clearer: “I have police protection in London from the Iranian opposition because of my support for your election campaign. I mention this so you know where I’m coming from.”
Galloway and Israel
We do indeed “know” where Galloway is “coming from.” By now, you ought to be able to spot a pattern emerging: no regime and no ideology, no matter how repugnant, is to be criticised, so long as it is anti-Western, anti-American, and – especially – anti-Isreal. Can this man get any lower? Indeed he can. Galloway mentions in his interview with Ahmadinejad (a man who needs no excuse to begin chanting “death to America” and “death to Israel”) that he has been attempting, along with his “Viva Palestina” organisation, to break to Israeli blockade of Gaza. He always maintains, of course, that he is moved to such action by the sight of Palestinian suffering. However, such a claim might stand more scrutiny if Galloway couldn’t be seen handing over bags of money to Hamas representatives while bellowing: “this is not charity. This is not charity: THIS IS POLITICS!” Seeing as Hamas are the terrorist organisation behind countless suicide bombings and hundreds of rocket attacks on Israel; one that quotes from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in its constitution and is firmly committed to Israel’s destruction, it ought to be plain that Galloway is therefore far from committed to a peaceful two-state solution. Hamas, more to the point, are the very reason for the existence of the blockade in the first place. As such, it is hard to see how plying Hamas with charitable donations will in any way contribute to the alleviation of Palestinian suffering.
While someone as devious as Galloway may succeed in fooling some of the people some of the time, anyone with a mouth as big as his is bound to incriminate themselves at some point. By the time of this year’s general election, it seems the shine had come off our intrepid left-wing warrior somewhat. If there was one true victory to savour that May night, it was seeing Galloway beaten into third place, and watching his RESPECT party’s share of the vote evaporate. Now Galloway can command neither popular backing nor an MP’s salary, I can’t help but wonder what will happen to him? What will happen to my hatred? He and his demagogy seem doomed now to the netherworld of talk radio and satellite television, alongside the other ranters, ravers, and conspiracy theorists; which, I guess, is just about where he belongs.
In case you are tempted, finally, to dismiss Galloway as just another nutter (the House of Commons, after all, has always had its fair share) or as a mere irrelevance, it must be remembered that such people are rarely total aberrations in the political landscape: they often offer up a distorted reflection of the wider zeitgeist by picking up on and amplifying certain currents within the mainstream. In the case of Galloway, the liberal mainstream’s hatred of Bush and Blair and their implacable opposition to the Iraq war saw them indulging a man who is not only a fascist boot-licker, but an apologist for most vicious forms of Islamic reaction, and an open supporter of terrorism; a man who trades on racial tensions at home, while cosseting our enemies abroad. While polite society works itself up into a self-righteous lather at the mere mention of Nick Griffin’s name, it saw in Galloway a recognisable glint of its own prejudices. As it isn’t hard to imagine what future generations will say about this, it ought to be a perpetual source of shame. Galloway may well be on his way to obscurity, but the smell he left behind him still permeates. The world will always feel a little more toxic to me while Galloway breaths the same air.