- George Galloway has black balled himself by attempting to blackmail the Labour Party into allowing him back in.
Below Phil Burton-Cartledge looks at whether George Galloway should be allowed back into the Labour Party. I find some of Phil's reasoning a tad hypocritical and of little relevance. Yes after his expulsion Galloway campaigned against LP candidates, but what was he supposed to do, shut up shop, go home and close the door on the world?
Say what you will about him, but you cannot deny he's a political activist to his core. Besides, if this criteria is used many valuable party members who returned to the fold or joined the party during Jeremy's leadership bid could also be excluded.
As to appearing on RT, I well remember the brouhaha which broke out on the left in the 1970s when Paul Foot [and later Ken Livingstone] started writing a column for a tabloid. Many on the left condemned him, believing he should not be writing for the capitalist press. Fortunately their argument was soundly refuted by those who believed he was correct to do so. Believing it was important to reach as wide an audience as possible.
Is Phil saying RT's coverage is more biased than say the BBC, Sky, Sun or Mail? I would suggest not. All media is biased whether it be the Morning Star, Guardian, Fox TV or those in between. If anything, for all his egotism George's weekly RT show Sputnik is a breath of fresh hour. He raises issues and invites people onto the programme who never get an airing on British TV. One doesn't have to agree with all Galloway or his guests say to recognise the benefit of his contribution here.
Anything which widens the envelope of left debate is to be welcomed surely?
The truth is for all his political nous, Galloway excluded himself from rejoining Labour when he tried to all but blackmail the party into allowing him back in by threatening to stand as an independent candidate for Mayor Of London. He ramped up the pressure and inflamed the situation further when he boasted on RT he is currently running third in the opinion polls after the Labour Party candidate Sadiq Khan and Tory Zac Goldsmith.
If he had an ounce of socialist solidarity left in his body George would have acknowledged the importance of the Mayoral election for Corbyn in his struggle to move the party to the left and democratise it. He must be aware if Khan fails to become mayor, the Neoliberal attack dogs within the party and media will be let loose on Corbyn's leadership.
Instead of displaying solidarity what does Galloway do? He uses the threat of running for Mayor as a bargaining chip to advance his chances of returning to the LP. It's the worst type of Tammany Hall politics and it has to be said this is not the first time George has acted like Boss Tweed.
It is for this reason and this reason alone which makes him unfit for LP membership.
The return of George Galloway or not.
By Phil Burton-Cartledge
Ever since the election of Jeremy – and before – there has been whispering that the Gorgeous One, George Galloway will make a triumphant return to Labour. Ever since his expulsion from the party for “bringing it into disrepute” for suggesting that soldiers should disobey orders given by officers, it’s no secret that he has held out for a return. That is despite running against the party on a number of occasions, and – in 2005 and 2012 – winning two Parliamentary seats from it. There has always been an uneasy feeling among a section of the membership that a return was never ruled out.
The rumour mill ground out more nervous jitters last week with Ken Livingstone stating that Galloway should be allowed to return. Was he speaking from the heart or indulging some unlicensed kite-flying? No matter, at Monday’s PLP meeting, members of that august body stated in no uncertain terms that he shouldn’t be allowed back – a position apparently shared by the leader.
Long before the disgraceful campaign Galloway waged in Bradford to try and keep Naz Shah at bay, and his unconscionable comments in support of the rape charge-dodging Julian Assange, at best he was a Marmite figure. Galloway is undoubtedly a man of oratorical gifts and a charisma that charms and rubs people up the wrong way equally, and is capable of soaring triumphs and crashing lows. Witness his bravura performance in front of the US Senate, and how quickly that political capital was pissed away months later. Oh what fun was had watching the SWP twist and turn to defend his Celebrity Big Brother antics – remember, this was before their ugly falling out with everyone else in Respect.
Though why does Galloway inspire fear and loathing right across the left political spectrum, what is it about the man that brings forward a rare united front ranging from (some) Trots to Progress types? Part of it has to be rooted in his highly critical and uncompromising position on Israel, one that does not recognise its right to exist. Just as some Stalinists of old took the mildest criticism of the USSR as blackest blasphemy, so criticising the less savoury aspects of Israeli society – not least the occupation – is beyond the pale for some. But there are plenty of lefties like that (including the leader).
What truly inspires a visceral reaction against old Gorgeous is not so much the blindspot toward nominally anti-imperialist movements and dictators, but their whole-hearted embrace. Whether it be chumming up to figures in Ba’athist Iraq, his unapologetic appearances on Iran’s Press TV and Russia Today, his opportunistic courting of communalism to get elected, the soft-soaping of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Assad, and effectively putting pluses wherever the Western foreign policy establishment put a minus, for many the values Galloway professes to cherish at home are abandoned when it comes to matters abroad. It makes him look like an opportunist. A charlatan.
There are worse people than Galloway presently in the Labour Party, but worse for entirely different reasons. That said, letting George back into the party sends an entirely wrong message, that it’s okay to give enemies of labour movements everywhere a free pass if they’re episodically opposing interests set against our own, and – yes – that it’s okay to indulge sexist abuse if the cause, in George’s case a re-election campaign, is deemed just enough. Galloway is fine where he is. He seems happy doing his thing outside the Labour Party, and we’re doing just fine ticking over without him.
This article first appeared at All that is Solid