Galloway the gallowglass

A gallowglass was a medieval Scottish mercenary, a hireling who thought of nothing but personal glory and money writes Andy Stowe.

These days we might refer to them as a Galloway, a blustering Don Quixote in search of disgruntled voters and a winnable seat who always has a few quid from Putin’s RT propaganda TV channel to fall back on.

George Galloway used to brag that he’d never lost an election, but he’s been having a bit of a fallow period. Since losing his Bradford seat in 2015, he got 1.4.% of the vote in the following year’s London mayoral election, 5.7% in Gorton in 2017, 1.4.% in West Bromwich in 2019 and 1.5% in this year’s Scottish parliamentary election.  For a man whose website modestly quotes Tony Benn’s (who died seven years ago) description of him as “One of our finest socialists, internationalists, and democrats of his generation” in the largest font available to his website designer, it’s nearly as disappointing a recent record as that of the Scottish football team.

Undaunted by this series of heroic failures Brexiteer Galloway has packed his carpet bag again and is contesting the Batley and Spen by election five years after the murder of Jo Cox by a Brexit supporting fascist.

He’s entering a crowded field of neo-fascists who are also contesting the seat. Jayda Fransen, an associate of Tommy Robinson is there as is Anne Marie Waters representing an anti-Muslim outfit. Ukip are there too as is some oddball anti-vax group.

Galloway, who is apparently now the leader of the Workers Party of Great Britain, is making a pitch for that Brexiteer, English nationalist, Corbynista core vote and has announced on his RT page “If I’m the man who ends Keir Starmer’s reign as Labour leader, so be it. I’m happy to give the people of Britain their wish.” 

Of greater electoral significance he writes that “There are 25,000 Asian Muslim voters in Batley and Spen and virtually to a man and woman they are boiling with rage at the recent massacres of women and children in Gaza and the ongoing threat to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.”

Clapped out charlatan

Most Labour Party members share this indignation which the Starmer leadership has done everything possible to render illegitimate and suppress, but there is no political issue of 2021 to which Galloway is an answer. He is absolutely unambiguous that he wants to hand the seat to the class enemy, writing “We are in it to win it, but the least we will achieve is to drive the Labour Party into a humiliating third place.” That is the politics of class treason.

History twice gave Galloway an opportunity to create something new on the English left with the two iterations of Respect. But he was never interested in the detailed political work needed to build a new party. He briefly caught a mood in Tower Hamlets and saw his parliamentary seat mainly as an opportunity to give himself a profile on the British and international stage. Whatever Stalinist idealism he had always came a poor second to his need for applause and publicity. As a result, he rapidly came to be seen as an absentee MP and inside Respect he relied on the SWP to do the party management for him.

If he were to win in Batley and Spen it would be exactly the same thing. He is not an activist committed to creating a working-class party. He wants a personality cult and is willing to hand the Tories a seat if he can’t have it.

There is no question that Muslim voters in Batley and Spen are turning away from Labour because of the leadership’s hostility to Palestinian rights, a shift that the bureaucrats are now maliciously attributing to Starmer’s campaign on anti-semitism. Solidarity with the people of Palestine is a priority for all socialists inside and outside Labour. Galloway, a man who eulogises butchers like Kim Jong-Il and Assad; who campaigned with neo-fascists like Farage and UDA fellow traveller Kate Hoey is no friend of the oppressed. He’s a clapped-out charlatan playing his greatest hits to an audience who haven’t heard what he’s been doing for the last ten years.

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