Galloway appears at PMQs. If only he'd not bother

Galloway made a rare appearance in the House of Commons yesterday. True to form, his comments were predictable, hypocritical and delivered with self-righteous indignation

Galloway made a rare appearance in the House of Commons yesterday
Ghaffar Hussain
On 31 January 2013 00:05

This week's PMQs were particularly dull as Miliband and Cameron exchanged the usual verbiage about lack of growth in the economy, austerity measures, and Labour's legacy. We have heard it all before, the same old lines delivered in the same manner by the same players.

But just as I was about to switch over to the much under-rated Euronews, up popped the Member for Bradford West, the Right Honourable George Galloway.

The mere mention of his name by the Speaker of the House elicited jeers and 'what, here?' comments from Members in the chamber, in reference to his rare appearances in the Commons. In fairness, he doesn't have many friends there, except perhaps Jeremy Corbyn MP, and it seems his support base, as well as the man, are more concerned with matters in the Middle East.

True to form, Galloway's comments were predictable, hypocritical and delivered with his trademark self-righteous indignation. Galloway claimed the jihadists in the Sahel region are just as savage and bloodthirsty as jihadists we are apparently supporting in Syria to overthrow the Assad-led dictatorship. He finished with “...has the Prime Minister read Frankenstein and did he read it to the end?”

Cameron's reply was epic: “Some things come and go but one thing is for certain, if there is ever a brutal Arab dictator in the world, he is sure to have the right honourable member’s support”.

Putting aside the bizarre and irrelevant analogy (as if nothing can possibly come into existence without Western involvement), Galloway is clearly worried about his friends in Damascus. After all, he has a lot to lose because if, God forbid(!), the Assad regime falls and the people get their way and establish a representative government. His invites, guided tours and photo ops with tyrants in the region will dry up.

He has also referred to Syria as “the last bastion of Arab Dignity”, since that other great bastion of Arab dignity, Saddam's Iraq, no longer exists. That's right; he has so much respect for Arabs that he thinks they are only dignified when they are being oppressed by dictators.

Galloway incorrectly depicts British, and indeed Western support for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) as support for blood-thirsty jihadists. There are many different factions fighting the Assad regime in Syria, not all of them are co-ordinated by the FSA.

The FSA itself does have a range of people from differing ideological persuasions within it. But it is largely a mixture of moderate Islamists, nationalist and secular types. It has also condemned the jihadists and sought to distance itself from them.

British support for the FSA has also been minimal since it has been implicated in human rights abuses during the course of the civil war. On the other hand, another state with which Galloway enjoys close ties, Iran, is openly supporting the slaughter of Syrian civilians on a daily basis.

Nuances clearly aren't Galloway's thing, nor, it seems, is consistency. This is, after all, the man who wholeheartedly supported the jihadists fighting in Iraq against US forces and Iraqi democrats. He also supported the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in 1979 while fashioning himself as a supporter of Muslim causes.

Galloway's criteria for supporting a regime, it seems, is based on how much it opposes Western powers. He couldn't care less about democracy, human rights abuses, liberty, freedom or basic human decency for that matter. He is actually exactly what he accuses his adversaries of being: a hypocrite out to serve his own interests.

It is for these reasons that I recoiled in horror when I learnt that he is planning to organise a relief convoy from Bradford to Kashmir. That region has suffered enough already and it really doesn't need Galloway rolling into town with his outdated anti-imperialist rhetoric.

Kashmir is as complex, if not more so, than the causes Galloway has been embroiled in thus far in the Middle East. His new found love of the Kashmiri cause is also inconsistent with his far-left politics. His ideal utopian paradise, the Soviet Union, supported the Indian stance on Kashmir because it viewed Pakistan as being in the Western capitalist sphere of influence.

But I'm not sure his supporters in Bradford are aware of that, or of much else for that matter.

Ghaffar Hussain is a counter terrorism expert and Contributing Editor to The Commentator. Follow him on Twitter @GhaffarH

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