People who view Galloway as a hero end up regretting it. Take it from me, I'm one of them

Galloway was eviscerated by Aaronovitch on BBC Question Time - but when will they day come when all of Britain sees through him?

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Galloway is still a hero for some
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Ghaffar Hussain
On 23 April 2012 14:08

Thursday nights in my house normally mean a cup of Redbush tea and a comfortable spot on the sofa to watch BBC’s Question Time. It is one of the few programmes that I have watched religiously since I was about 13. Last Thursday’s programme, however, was perhaps the most enthralling I had seen since the one in which Nick Griffin attempted to be a panelist.

Respect MP George Galloway was taken on and utterly outclassed by Times journalist David Aaronovitch. The two clashed when the issue of the alleged rendition of Libyan rebel leader Abdel Hakim Belhaj was raised. Galloway began by presenting the story from his predictable far-left perspective but when Aaronovitch attempted to offer an alternative view, Galloway immediately switched to his characteristic ad-hominem attacks focusing on Aaronovitch’s communist past.

Aaronovitch, much to the audiences delight, responded by accusing Galloway of licking the backside of Bashar al-Assad and sucking up to other Middle Eastern dictators in the past, before finally letting rip with the line ‘I might have been a communist George but you were still to the left of me’. The whole programme is well worth watching on BBC iPlayer and snippets are already circulating on YouTube.

What made the clash even more interesting was the fact that the Leeds audience completely sided with Aaronovitch, forcing poor George to sadly glance towards the audience, as they applauded Aaronovitch’s attack on him, only to reveal a facial expression tinged with disappointment and dejection. It is almost as if someone had just whispered into his ear ‘you’re clearly not as popular up north as you thought you were’.

George Galloway reminds me very much of Anjem Choudary. They are both apologists for totalitarianism, both love seeing their faces on TV, both love a good debate, yet neither ever offers any substance. Their debates rarely rise above vulgar ad-homimen attacks and pre-rehearsed clichés. All their bluster only serves to reveal personalities that are utterly engrossed in self-righteousness, egocentrism and a burning desire for popularity. These are, of course, qualities that rarely allow for introspection or an opportunity to see one’s own frailties.

Galloway seeks to present himself as a working class hero and champion of Arab and Muslim causes, yet his activism rarely extends beyond bashing Western imperialism and making common cause with dictators that have Muslim blood on their hands. This is a distinction that, unfortunately, many of my fellow Muslims seem incapable of making.

In the words of the late Christopher Hitchens, “…the "anti-war" movement has as its new star a man who is openly pro-war, but openly on the other side. A man who supported the previous oppressors of the region—the Soviet army in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq—who supports its current oppressors—Bashar Assad and his Lebanese proxies—and who still has time to endorse its potential future tyrants in the shape of the jihadists in Iraq and elsewhere”.

Galloway’s interest in Arab/Muslim causes is limited to viewing them through a parochial and solipsistic lens and exploiting them for his own personal war against Western capitalism. There are perks to be had too. Muslim money, votes and support for his personality cult are all up for grabs. But not all Muslims think and behave in the way Galloway expects them to, as this clash with an Iranian student illustrates.

Most of those who make the mistake of viewing Galloway as some sort of hero end up regretting it. I know because I used to see him as a hero myself. I can remember attending many anti-war rallies in Hyde Park that involved Galloway speaking and galvanising the crowd. One Big Brother appearance and a speech supporting al-Qaeda in Iraq later, I changed my mind and began to see through the charade.

It seems the people who voted for him in East London in 2005 had the same realisation since the Respect party’s East London chapter was all but decimated in the 2010 general elections.  He is, after all, not a constituency MP but a political activist who spends most of his time gallivanting around the Middle East and furthering his media career. It’s only a matter of time before the people of Bradford West also see through the antics of this hapless anti-imperialist, yet pro-autocratic buffoon. 

Ghaffar Hussain is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator. He is a consultant and commentator on Cultural and Identity related issues as well as Middle Eastern and South Asian politics

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