TCS Daily


Galloway's Gallows

By Val MacQueen - April 26, 2005 12:00 AM

"Sir, I salute your courage, your strength." So said fawning then-British Member of Parliament George Galloway to Saddam Hussein on one of his pre-war visits to Iraq to praise Saddam and pick up a check. All together, through a college friend of his Palestinian wife, Galloway, a former MP for a constituency in his native Glasgow, is thought to have persuaded Iraq's erstwhile president to siphon around £375,000 ($700,000) per year out of the oil for food program -- to keep him in custom designer suits, nice cars and a driver. He denies these charges.

He was still going back to Iraq for meetings with Tariq Aziz and Saddam as late as December 2003, although Saddam is reputed to have been wearying of these trips to profess solidarity and inquire about his balance.

Back in Britain, Galloway managed to evade being tried as a traitor (he had publicly advised British troops in Iraq to disobey their officers), although he was nevertheless formally ejected from the Labour party. But the unsinkable George set to work making lemonade and promptly started his own party, naming it Respect.

For the upcoming British general election (May 5), Galloway himself has chosen to stand as a parliamentary candidate in London's Bethnal Green and Bow constituency, an area with a large Muslim population, although it is not particularly deprived. The Labour Party is running incumbent Oona King, a black woman who also professes to be Jewish.

Given Galloway's high profile anti-war record, his richly deserved reputation as a Muslim sycophant and his frequent visitor status with Saddam, plus the fact that Muslims may be reluctant to vote for a black Jewish woman and even less likely to vote Conservative, George had reason on his side in thinking he could have been a natural shoo-in.

Alas, last Wednesday night's public meeting ended in a knock-down drag-out between just about everyone. At a dinner in the nearby Bangladeshi curry restaurant (sit down and take-out) Zeera, at a $50-a-head fundraising for King, a surprise celebrity had been announced.

Meanwhile, before King's fundraiser, Galloway and King met on the hustings for some electioneering before a crowd made up mainly of young Muslim men. The sitting MP, King, who holds the Labour seat with a 10,000 vote majority, many of them middle class whites, told the crowd that a vote for Respect would split the Labour vote and hand a victory to the Conservatives. Galloway accused Tony Blair of "waging war on Muslims" and accused Oona King of being "soft on drugs".

Vituperative accusations flew back and forth between the two candidates. Meanwhile, the crowd of young Muslim men pelted King with eggs and slashed her tires. The Independent's Johann Hari wrote of the Muslim men (no women): "They are intelligent and furious young conservatives, driven by hatred of Western liberalism in all its forms, and absolutely convinced they are being viciously persecuted by the 'infidel' state. It is very hard to engage them in a political dialogue that makes sense -- you talk tax credits and they talk Caliphate, you talk a higher minimum wage and they talk about Mohammed's third wife."

Sure enough, if the Muslim crowd didn't like King, neither did they like Galloway -- who has adopted almost every conservative Islamic position on almost everything, and, like Rod Stewart in his golden oldie Maggie Mae, "couldn't have tried any more" -- accusing him of being "a false prophet".

As the crowd was turning ugly, back at the Bangladeshi Zeera, which had had the honor of preparing a take-out for the IOC when they visited London, the surprise celebrity had entered and turned out to be none other than the prime minister's wife Cherie, a High Court judge. Ms. Booth (as she prefers to be called when it suits her), no lightweight, hove onto the little platform and began attacking George Galloway and Respect with a level of petty invective and vulgarity surprising from a British High Court judge.

"I'm sure his mother loves him," she sneered, inexplicably. "But," she revved up the crowd, "give George Galloway a bloody nose!"

The crowd at the hustings had more than a bloody nose in mind for George, informing him that they were "setting up a gallows" for him. It seems that, among the many other things about the West that offend him, Allah doesn't like voting, either. According to these angry young Muslims, the revealed truth is, voting is "un-Islamic". Live and learn. Any young Muslims contemplating voting for Galloway and Respect were warned that they would attract a sentence of death. One of them went so far as to issue a fatwa on Galloway, although as a non-cleric his word carries no weight other than intimidation.

As the level of invective and violence rose, and the two groups of Muslims turned to punching, pulling offensive weapons and kicking each other, Galloway's daughter, who had been waiting for him in his car, called the police.

After the event, fellow Labour Party ejectee (since rehabilitated) London Mayor Ken Livingstone made use of the occasion to crow over the defeat of a fellow publicity-seeking opportunist by noting it had taken 40 Metropolitan Police to deal with the affray. "I have been fighting elections for 35 years in London," he declared waspishly, "and this is the first time I have had to have a team of police officers standing by in case of an incident. George Galloway decided to go down this road."

This assumption, that a legal candidate in an election is protected on the sufferance of the mayor and the Metropolitan Police hasn't been picked up by the London papers.

In a fine old example of the pot calling the kettle black, Red Ken also condemned Galloway for standing against his Labour colleague, accusing him of opportunism in taking on King, whose constituency is made up of more than 55,000 Bangladeshi Muslims, most of whom opposed the war. Livingstone had earlier joined King in a walkabout in her constituency and had ordered the police out at that time as a precautionary measure. A mean-spirited person might suspect it was a precautionary measure to protect the Cheeky Chappie. As Evening Standard writer Richard Alleyne noted, "Both Mr Livingstone and Miss King, whose lunch at Salique's curry restaurant was besieged by anti-war protesters, sought to lay the blame for the trouble at the feet of their opponent."

While twitting Galloway, the mayor seems to have failed to take action against the Muslim crowd who had been threatening violence, including death, to a legitimate political candidate in a legitimate national election. Galloway is quoted by the London Evening Standard as saying, "I was meeting people who live in the flats. Hizb-ut-Tahrir suddenly filled the room and blocked the door. I tried speaking calmly. They then said I was parading as a false prophet and served a sentence of death on me. They were claiming I was representing myself as a false deity and for this apostasy I would be sentenced to the gallows," he said. "They said they were setting up the gallows for me. Thank God my daughter was not with me. She was in the car outside. Otherwise there would have been nobody to call the police. The police saved my life."

Western civilization does have its uses.

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