Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Hopeless Causes

Image result for george galloway and jeremy corbyn

George Galloway has apparently thrown his hat in the ring for the Manchester Gorton by-election, not literally of course because George is seldom seen with his head uncovered these days.

But Robert Colvile took to Twitter to mark the occasion and a piece he wrote for the Spectator to celebrate Galloway's drubbing in the 2016 London Mayoral elections.

Well worth a read if you ask me, but isn't it odd that Galloway is standing against the official Labour Party candidate even though George claims to be big pals with the hapless Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn?

George Galloway was humiliated in London. Hooray!

By Robert Colvile - The Spectator

George Galloway campaigning in Bradford in 2015. Image: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

It’s rare that an election result leaves you with a sense of giddy, disbelieving glee, but there it was in black and white. Galloway, George, Respect (George Galloway) Party, 37,007 votes. Walker, Sophie, Women’s Equality Party, 53,055 votes. Once you took second preferences into account, Walker and her newly formed feminist movement beat Galloway and his band of Islamists by almost 100,000 votes.

This result is so striking, and so perfect, because Galloway is one of those old-fashioned socialists whose attitudes towards gender equality are distinctly retrograde: it is the man’s job to further the revolutionary cause and the woman’s to provide dutiful comradely support. Indeed, while he may not be the only misogynist in British politics, he is certainly the most notorious. Famously, he claimed that what Julian Assange was accused of was not rape ‘as anyone with any sense can possibly recognise it’: it was merely ‘bad sexual etiquette’. ‘Not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion,’ he added, prompting the then leader of his Respect Party, Salma Yaqoob, to resign in disgust.

Then there was the vicious and viciously personal campaign he sanctioned against Naz Shah, the Labour candidate, in the Bradford West election in 2015: part of what Dawn Butler, chair of the women’s Parliamentary Labour Party, called his ‘ugly track record in opposing Labour women’.

The most important thing is not, however, that Galloway has been beaten by the feminists, but that he has been beaten full stop. Not just beaten: humiliated. He ended up in seventh place, with just 1.4 per cent of the vote, a result so crushing to his ego that he didn’t even bother to turn up for the count.

This turn of events should come as no surprise to Spectator readers. Back in January, I pointed out in this magazine that, while Galloway still had a formidable media and social media presence, he lacked even the basics of a successful campaign. Respect had no money, no membership, and no organisation. In the most recent accounts it filed, the party declared a grand total of £1,947.42 in assets, plus an unknown sum in an account it couldn’t access because the bank wouldn’t let it. Its registered headquarters had been turned into a tanning salon.

Galloway is in no danger of disappearing from public life. There are still unsavoury people who are prepared to pay him large sums to host their television programmes: during the last parliament, he raked in almost £400,000 from Russia Today, Iran’s Press TV and the Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen. Mainstream shows like Question Time will probably still book him too, because he’s a born performer, and a guaranteed source of drama.

But the lesson of London is that the approach he’s depended upon to date is no longer working. It was, to be fair, a brilliant strategy: he would find a Muslim-majority area with genuine and legitimate grievances – over the Iraq war, or the corruption of local political elites – and whip up those grievances with all his might. This won him stunning victories in Bethnal Green and Bow in 2005, and Bradford West in 2012.

The thing was that once Galloway was in power, the feeling would grow among his constituents that he cared rather more about the greater glory of George Galloway than their welfare – and that it was all very well making speeches about Kashmir and Palestine, but it would be nice if the local MP could do something about bin collection and leisure centres and other rather more mundane concerns. Triumph in one election was, in both instances, followed by disaster in the next.

And here’s where Galloway has a problem: he’s running out of Muslims. Or rather, he’s running out of Muslims who aren’t wise to his tricks.

His strategy in London was to persuade religious voters that Khan – despite being called, er, Sadiq Khan – wasn’t a proper Muslim, and to persuade left-wing voters that he wasn’t a proper Corbynite, either. Hence the tweets labelling Khan ‘a rancid traitor to his faith and to any conceivable definition of Labour’ and accusing him (in a line borrowed from Lenin) of supporting his party leader ‘as the rope does the hanging man’.

The problem was that Galloway’s former constituents in east London weren’t having any of it, and nor was anyone else. Gorgeous George may be like a virus, seeking out points of infection in the body politic – but those who are forced into long-term proximity tend to become inoculated against future outbreaks.

It wasn’t just the mayoral race. It was notable that the precise moment at which the tide swung in the battle between Vote Leave and the GO movement to be the official voice of the Brexit campaign was when Nigel Farage unveiled Galloway as the latter’s secret weapon: walkouts in the hall were matched by a widespread shudder among respectable Eurosceptics. Similarly, his tentative attempts to take over from the disgraced Lutfur Rahman as the face of Muslim sectarianism in Tower Hamlets were scotched by Rahman’s own supporters.

Galloway is, the Spectator reported, keeping his battlebus full of petrol. He may appear on various fringe Brexit platforms, or put on his armour of righteousness when the Chilcot Inquiry finally reports. He has talked up a bid to succeed Khan in as MP for Tooting, even though the seat’s demographics guarantee another humiliation. His comrades Ken Livingstone and Seumas Milne – claimed by Galloway as his ‘closest friend’ – would like him back in the Labour Party. But rather more members of the Parliamentary Labour Party would like him dead in a ditch, and have told Jeremy Corbyn so.

As long as there is publicity to be sought, George Galloway will be with us. But his humiliating, catastrophic, hilarious come-uppance this week shows that he’s no longer a political force: he’s a political joke. For a man so puffed up with self-regard, it is the cruellest of fates – and the most deserved.

Not So Gorgeous Now (24/11/15)

Image result for half-eaten chocolate + images

I've written about George Galloway's chequered political career on and off over the years and on one occasion I said that if George were "made of chocolate, he would eat himself". 

Now I suspect that's widely held view, but in this hilarious interview for The Sunday Times  the once 'Gorgeous George' seems to have made a terrible impression on Camilla Long who as well as being a journalist appears regularly on the BBC's Have I Got News For You.

With friends like these…

George Galloway charmed Castro and became hugger-mugger with Saddam. Now he wants all of London to embrace him as he runs for mayor. Camilla Long finds out what’s really going on beneath his trademark fedora

By Camilla Long
Galloway at home in west London (Andrew Whitton)

Now that I am home and collapsed and no longer panting, I can safely say that nothing, not even a whole week’s spooning with Tom Cruise, could have prepared me for exactly how small George Galloway is. He is not just small, but Hollywood tiny, possessing a defiant sub-Amis weaselishness that radiates from every inch of his proud, obstinate little body. 

What's New Pussycats? (17/10/15)

Image result for Dick Whittington + cat images

Regular readers will be unsurprised to learn that the country's best known political 'carpetbagger', George Galloway, has thrown his hat in the ring to become London Mayor. 

Not literally, of course, because George keeps his hat on just about everywhere these days including indoors or inside TV studios when being interviewed about his latest plans.

A peculiar affectation, don't you think, especially for a man of George's age?

In any event, I doubt it will do him much good as I suspect that the citizens of London will follow the example of the good people of Glasgow who shunned Galloway in 2011 when he stood for election to the Scottish Parliament.

Now Glasgow's loss became Bradford's gain for a few years after a spectacular by-election success in a formerly safe Labour seat in 2012, but the voters of Bradford West deserted George at the 2015 general election.

Hence George's interest in standing for election in London which, of course, had a mayor named Dick Whittington who according to English fokelore was famously associated with a pussycat.

Just like George from his days on Big Brother.

Snake Oil Salesman (14/09/14)

The Independent newspaper has given George Galloway a platform to share his views about Scottish independence, but because he has so little of substance to say the little man with a giant ego falls back on his trademark - the 'purple prose' which marks him out as the Ray Harryhausen of UK politics.

In this case George conjures up an image of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany in support of his argument four a No vote in the referendum, as if the politics of fascism have any relevance to the debate about whether Scotland should become an independent country.

But in his inimitable way George goes on to talk nonsense, for example his assertion that Scotland has 'decisively fallen out of love with New Labour' when the truth is that north of the border New Labour never gained much traction in the first place.

The reality is that Scottish Labour has fallen between two stools, never quite standing up for its Old Labour values or embracing the 'modernising' New Labour programme of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown which came to the fore after 18 consecutive years of Conservative rule at Westminster. 

The SNP has exploited Scottish Labour's ambivalence to New Labour ruthlessly and very effectively, stealing the party's clothes and moving to the political left, so much so that Scottish Labour is now regarded as neither fish nor fowl.

And that has been the case for years as Scottish Labour has bones through an amazing number of leaders: Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish, Jack McConnell, Wendy Alexander, Iain Gray and now Johann Lamont - the latter having voted against Scottish devolution in 1979 before going on to become an MSP in the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

The other point George gets badly wrong is to blame the Tory bogeyman for the decision not to have a second 'Devo Max' question on the independence ballot paper because this ridiculous position was supported by all of the Westminster based UK parties at the time - including Labour and the Lib Dems.    

So if you ask me, George, a politician who supports self-determination around the world yet not in Scotland, doesn't know what he's talking about which is why he failed to be elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2011 having been roundly rejected by the voters of Glasgow who can see through his 'snake oil salesman' political pitch.

Fishes and Bicycles (6 May 2011)

So George Galloway has failed to win a seat in the Scottish Parliament elections.

Now this comes as no great surprise here's what I said about the relevance of his campaign for a list seat in the Glasgow region.

Seems like the voters in Glasgow agreed with me that the former Respect MP had little to offer Holyrood.

Which chimes with my own views because I didn't vote for him either.

Fishes and Bicycles (2 December 2010)

George Galloway is to politics what Jose Mourinho is to football though without the evident talent and smouldering good looks.

'Gorgeous' George is a tired old pussycat these days, both vain and vainglorious in equal measure whose current claim to fame is that he writes a regular column - wait for it - for the Daily Record.

The other day George was rude and condescending about Christopher Hitchens  saying that he would 'pray' for the avowed atheist who is terminally ill with throat cancer.

George also boasted, as is his won't  about his public debates with Hitchens in 2005  suggesting that these had been a great success and that he had come out on top.

So I watched these recordings and other interviews on You Tube and it seemed to me that, as on many other issues, the former MP is simply deluding himself.

The two men clearly detest each other which makes for great theatre and sparky TV.

Yet for me Hitchens had the measure of his opponent whom he would probably characterise as a populist demagogue.

Apparently George is interested in standing for the Scottish Parliament in next year's elections and his penchant for flowery words and phrases would certainly bring some colour to its debates.

But as his political interests have always been dominated by foreign affairs Holyrood needs George about as much as a fish needs a bicycle.

Snake Oil Salesmen (21/02/16)
Image result for galloway and farage.

Two good reasons for voting Yes to Europe in the June referendum - a right pair of political chancers.

Bucket, Porridge, Farage (11/05/13)

Porage or Porridge Oats 
I really enjoyed Matthew Parris poking fun in The Times the other day - at the hugely pretentious behaviour of UKIP's 'Del Boy' leader, Nigel Farage.

I think Matthew Parris may just have stumbled upon Nigel's Achilles Heel - the use of humour to poke fun at people who behave in this ridiculously pompous way - instead of coming across all red faced, angry and po-faced. 

Come to think of it, the 'Farridge versus Faraage' debacle may help to explain why UKIP has failed to ignite in Scotland - since we Scots are so generally very disapproving of people with affected airs and graces.

And in support my theory, I just remembered that I was at college and university with a chap called Neil Farage - and Farridge is how he and we pronounced his name. I wonder where he is now?

So if UKIP's poll ratings begin to drop like a heavy stone - remember, you heard it here first.   

"Farage disparaged"

"A number of voices are this week calling the UKIP leader “Nigel Farridge”. This is to be encouraged. It is almost four years since, in this Diary column (September 10, 2009) I deplored Mr F’s poncified pronunciation of his own name, as in “massage” or “entourage” rather than the good old English forage, cribbage or cabbage. Like the way Hyacinth Bucket switched to Bouquet, and pretentious nitwits are now pronouncing “homage” as om-ahge.

And this from a professed Europhobe! Nigel Farage responded with good humour in our Letters column, confessing that his family name used to be pronounced and spelt “Farridge” — but that someone wrote “Farage” on a marriage certificate in 1890 and “Farage” it stayed. Mr F went on to accuse my ancestors of “Frenchifying” our own name, Parris, but this is the opposite of the truth: the double “r” distances us from Paris. Anyway, he concluded: “I suspect it is a little too late for rebranding.” Oh no it isn’t, Mr Farridge."