Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Enough Galloway already

I wonder if Georgy-boy ever does vanity searches on Google; if he does, it must be good for his ego because he takes up an inordinate amount of "column inches" in the blogsphere.

Take Johann Hari for example, who has another pop at him here - finishing his article with the warning that, "The RESPECT Coalition might dupe some decent left-wing people, but Labour activists should not be mistaken: this is - to a significant degree - a party of the totalitarian-right." This comes to the attention of Harry's Place, who plug Johann's piece using (I've just noticed) the same exert I've just quoted. Also, David Aaronovitch has a fairly pointless quiz at the end of his piece in the Guardian today.

Meaders, on the other hand, doesn't agree and certainly would not be campaigning for someone if he thought they belonged to the "totalitarian right".

For me, his status as a complete tube has never been in doubt but it's hardly worth repeating the case against Galloway because no one who wasn't convinced before is unlikely to be now. Instead, I'll restrict myself to make a couple of points that aren't often made in discussions about my erstwhile constituency MP, which some people really ought to take on board:

1) While I agree (largely) with those who think that Galloway was and is wrong about the Middle East in general and Iraq in particular - it's a mistake to think that he is not sincere. George is a believer - and the failure to grasp this is what is behind the string of libel cases he's won. In Glasgow, we've heard it all before: he was, as General Secretary of War on Want accused of misusing funds - but was later cleared by an independent audit.

Perhaps his critics south of the border were unaware of this but for what ever reason, I've been surprised that more care hasn't been taken in some of the stories that have been circulated about him. For example, I don't believe for a minute that the reason Galloway didn't join the SSP after being expelled from the Labour Party was because of their policy to take no more than the average salary and donate the rest to charities and the party itself.

No, Galloway doesn't believe in nationalism; he's on record numerous times outlining his position on the union and the constitution. On learning he'd been expelled from the Labour Party he was asked (live) if he would consider trying to rejoin. He responded, "Yes - what else can I do? I can't join either the SSP or the Greens because they're nationalists and I don't believe in nationalism".

This is how his position on Iraq should be understood. I was obviously not alone in thinking that if you find yourself saluting the "courage" of a homicidal dictator, you've lost the plot somewhat but it was a big mistake to assume that he was doing so for financial gain. The truth was in some senses worse; he was doing this because he thought it the thing to do. But the route he took was born of complete sincerity in my view - and rooted in his long-standing support for the Palestinian cause. In that sense, Galloway made the same mistake as Yasser Arafat at the time of - and after - Gulf War I.

2) Using Galloway's support for Musharraf's probably a mistake - given that this is the position of the present Labour administration, which Johann suggested in an earlier post that we should vote for.

3) Lenin after the Russian Revolution re-introduced the dictatorship; under Stalin it became infinitely more terrible; Trotsky was very far from representing a cuddly alternative to Stalinism: everyone with any knowledge of the Soviet Union is aware of this but when someone calls themselves a "Leninist", or a "Stalinist" or a "Trotskyist" that does not mean they identify, or should be identified with, their crimes; it has to do with what these names are believed to symbolise politically, regardless of what the historical reality might have been.

4) He's really not that important; I reckon the voters in Bethnel Green will agree with me and a majority will not be casting their votes for the RESPECT coalition but even if they do, it doesn't amount to a hill of beans in this political world of ours - so can we move on...please.

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