Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem Sr
The most striking thing about George Galloway’s latest outburst was not what he said so much as the fact that there were still people willing to take him seriously. This is heartening in a way of course, for such people will learn everything they need to know about George Galloway simply by listening to George Galloway. But for those of us who believed the end of Mr Galloway’s credibility had come many years ago, it was also something of a surprise.
The Respect MP’s latest remarks, made on hisGoodnight with George Galloway programme, began by describing Julian Assange’s sex life as “sordid and disgusting”. You could have been forgiven for thinking this a good start. However this was less a condemnation of the alleged improper sexual conduct Mr Assange is wanted by the Swedish authorities for questioning over, and more a judgement on Mr Assange’s sexual promiscuity – as was rapidly intuited as Mr Galloway went on to talk in detail about the actual allegations:
“I mean not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion. Some people believe that when you go to bed with somebody, take off your clothes, and have sex with them and then fall asleep, you’re already in the sex game with them.”
Unfortunately Mr Galloway is not the first man whose reactionary attitude towards promiscuity bleeds into an unwillingness to grant a woman the right to say no once she has climbed between the sheets. More interesting has been some of the response to Mr Galloway’s comments. Some have asked whether, this time at least, the “maverick” MP for Bradford West hasn’t “gone too far”. Mr Galloway has even lost his column at Holyrood for this particular outburst of the unpalatable.
All in all one gets the distinct impression that people expected more from the man.
However while Mr Galloway’s latest remarks undoubtedly stink, his previous record is no less pestiferous. Is it really such a shock to discover that a man who once embraced the leader of Hamas has a lousy attitude towards women? One would have thought the two positions complimented each other excellently. While I still experience feelings of outrage related to Mr Galloway, that outrage pre-dates this week and is nowadays reserved mainly for those who keep up the pretence that Mr Galloway is some sort of radical.
As recently as April, Salma Yaqoob, who says she finds Mr Galloway’s latest remarks “deeply disappointing and wrong”, described Mr Galloway in the New Statesman as “a man who stands by his principles and tells it straight”. Writing in the Independent around the same time, Patrick Cockburn put the “ferocity” of the attacks on Mr Galloway down to nothing more than the “comatose nature of British politics”. News presenters were launching “a shower of insulting and unproven accusations,” Mr Cockburn added. As if to prove that many on the left still held a torch for Mr Galloway, he was pencilled in to speak at the Marxism 2012 festival on a bill that included Tony Benn and Owen Jones.
All of this came before his now infamous remarks about rape. However it all came after the Respect MP had described the President of Syria Bashar al-Assad as the “last Arab leader”,after he had heaped praise on Saddam Hussein for his “indefatigability”, and after he had claimed that a gay man was executed in Iran for “sex crimes against young men”. It also cameafter Mr Galloway had published not so much a book as a eulogy to Fidel Castro; and after, on his Talksport radio show, he said that “not a single photograph of a single dead person” had ever been “adduced” as proof that the Tiananmen Square massacre had taken place.
Staying true to one’s original political beliefs is as much a sign of the rigid dogmatist as it is of the committed idealist. The measure of a person of the left can also very often be taken by their attitude towards George Orwell. In an edition of the late Alexander Cockburn’sCounterpunch to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of the Spanish civil war, Mr Galloway repeated the Stalinist lie that Orwell had smeared the International Brigades who travelled to Spain to fight fascism. Their memory had been “sullied by Orwell’s slanders, unfortunately reinforced by Ken Loach’s film Land and Freedom,” Mr Galloway said. The reality of course was that Orwell had documented the vile role of the Stalinists in suppressing the Spanish revolution. Considering the worst day of Mr Galloway’s life was the day the Soviet Union collapsed, his distaste for the man who saw through Stalinism before the majority of the intelligentsia is perhaps unsurprising.
If anything, the longevity of George Galloway goes to show that you can believe in practically anything on the political left these days so long as you profess a dislike for the United States of America and Israel. It is often said that the political left is too idealistic. That individuals like George Galloway are still in the ranks is testament to the contrary. A good deal more idealism would be very welcome at this point.