George Galloway - we've all heard the name, but do you know what he stands for?

George Galloway returns for another stint at the taxpayers' expense. Raheem Kassam takes a moment to mention why he thinks Bradford West made a terrible mistake in electing him.

Galloway flanked by Respect Party members after last night's victory
On 30 March 2012 12:43

It was a fix. It was orchestrated by the powers that be. There was no way the result could have been any other way.

These are just some of the excuses that George Galloway would have doubtless invoked had he not won yesterday’s by-election in Bradford West. The overgrown, undergraduate uber-Marxist, who never quite saw his vision of Soviet hegemony come to light has triumphed in one of the most sectarian political campaigns that Britain has seen in years – a strategy that even Ken ‘some of my best friends are Jews’ Livingstone would be proud of.

It is my opinion that George Galloway is a shameless career politician who has spent more time trying to get elected than he has spent in the House of Commons chamber, actually debating on the issues. If Galloway’s legal team require me to legitimise my views in this regard, I refer them to this picture of this appearance on Big Brother, incidents such as his  appearance alongside Zahir Mahmood in this speech and his history of attempting to shut down debates about his character and affiliations, rather than actually answering questions as he most famously did at the US Senate in 2005.

It’s no surprise that even his campaign videos are patronising, play on racial stereotypes mocking those who he wants to represent. I’m not being a killjoy – this "humorous" video actually tells you more about the Galloway campaign than if I wrote a hundred thousand words on it.

Galloway tweeted about his victory in the by-election last night, claiming a ‘Bradford spring’, revealing the true ignorance behind his views. His conflation of winning a free and fair election with Arabs across North Africa and the Middle East being forced into taking to the streets, braving murder in order to overthrow dictators is yet another revelatory quip in a diabolical history of activism and misguided political agitation.

Of course, the people of Bradford were attempting to shake off the vile dictator that was their previous MP  to replace a seriously ill MP who had to stand down and voted for Galloway as a lifeline for their embattled state voted for Galloway as the result of a highly divisive campaign that played on discord and disenfranchisement rather than unity and a community spirit.

He is a man who once said to Saddam Hussein, “I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability,” and campaigned adamantly against the war that brought the tyrant to justice. He is no stranger to controversy and will now have parliamentary privilege at his disposal so that he may rail off on whatever issues he pleases without concern for ramifications. That is of course, if he even shows up. 

When Galloway was sitting in the last parliament, he attended only 7.6 per cent of debates in the chamber – worse only were the Sinn Fein members who refuse to take their seats.

Not for one moment am I denying the likes of George Galloway the right to obtain a seat in the Mother of Parliaments, but it is clear, to me at least, that Galloway is perhaps the most pertinent exemplar of what Winston Churchill meant when he called democracy the least worst system of government. 

It is, as we know – not without its flaws. Some of Galloway’s campaign literature over the past few weeks is primary evidence of this. He delivered letters to Muslims in Bradford stating: “God KNOWS who is a Muslim. And he KNOWS who is not. Instinctively, so do you. Let me point out to all the Muslim brothers and sisters what I stand for. I, George Galloway, do not drink alcohol and never have. Ask yourself if you believe the other candidate in this election can say that truthfully.”

In 2003 you may recall, the Daily Telegraph published documents found in the Iraqi Foreign Ministry that alleged George Galloway had received £375,000 per year in payments from the Oil-for-Food Programme, which George Galloway denied. The Telegraph were forced to compensate him for damages under defamation to the tune of £150,000. However, the ruling was not about the veracity of the documents in general. 

One of Galloway’s lawyers, Oliver Thorne claimed later said: “In my opinion the evidence found fully supports that the vast majority of the submitted documents are authentic… I find no evidence to suggest that any of the disputed Telegraph documents were found at a different time/place to the others… I find no evidence that any are forgeries or altered and I consider this possibility to be extremely unlikely.”

So this is Bradford West’s new Member of Parliament. A man who has denied that homosexuals are executed in the Islamic Republic of Iran, who worked for Press TV (an arm of the Iranian government) and who was condemned by the British telecommunications regulator Ofcom for "breaking impartiality rules" in several of his television programmes, who has argued in favour of Castro’s Cuban revolution, who was banned from Canada (Canada!) for what the government in 2009 interpreted as "explicit support for Hamas", who was found to be using his parliamentary resources "beyond what was reasonable" to support his work on the Mariam Appeal – a campaign that was found by the Charity Commission to have numerous financial discrepancies.

Christopher Hitchens laid waste to Galloway in the "Grapple in the Big Apple" debate, which I have watched several times over. It’s incredible to note how Hitchens, point after point, goes after Galloway on historical, intellectual and statistical points. Galloway’s responses were typically retorts such as, “How far has this neo-con rot seeped into your soul? You have fallen out of the gutter into the sewer”; the surest sign of someone on the losing side of the debate.

Hitchens also noted Galloway’s "courting" of the “slobbering dauphin son of a slobbering tyrant” Bashar al-Assad, who to this day continues to brutalise his people. Galloway’s response was, “For Mr. Hitchens to use the word "slobbering" is not wise.”

Galloway is on the record as defending Bashar al-Assad, calling the international depiction of Syria as one of the least free states, “absurd”, blaming the reporting on Israel. In 2010 it emerged that Galloway wrote an incredibly flattering letter to Bashar al-Assad’s media advisor asking for "practical" help for the pro-Hamas Mavi Marmara "aid ship" to once again sail to Gaza. In the widely published letter, Galloway refers to Syria as "the last castle of Arab dignity". I suppose it depends on what your idea of ‘dignity’ is.

"Gorgeous George" (irony at its finest) has a history of playing the man, not the ball and this is precisely what he did in Bradford West. The main concern for Britain is that once again a man like Galloway will have a pulpit from which he can promote his perverse political views.

Raheem Kassam is the Executive Editor of The Commentator. He tweets at @RaheemJKassam

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