Friday, 12 November 2021
The Thing About George Galloway
“The Labour Party knowingly failed to declare the use of four MPs’ offices as notional expenditure during phone banking sessions undertaken on the Parliamentary estate, which in effect meant that taxpayers contributed to the cost of the Labour Party’s election campaign.”
So reads George Galloway’s petition to the Royal Courts of Justice, and the by-election spending returns back him up. The result at Batley and Spen would certainly have been overturned if George had won.
With the possible exception of Ken Livingstone, George is the most striking figure of the working-class Left who would have been a Minister under any post-Kinnock Labour Prime Minister other than Tony Blair and the post-Blair Gordon Brown. And there could certainly have been such a Prime Minister. Any Labour Leader at all would always have won the next General Election after Wednesday 16th September 1992.
Despite having an enormous overall majority, Blair preferred people who had been elected as Conservative Party candidates, and he put the Leader of the Liberal Democrats on a Cabinet Committee. Brown also tried to bring the Lib Dems into the Cabinet, and he gave a portfolio to a man who had been elected as a Conservative at the previous five General Elections.
When I disagree with George on an issue, then I really do, but that does not happen very often. Although I claim no influence, he has arrived at a few positions that I already held. His style would not be mine, but whose style would ever be anyone else’s? He has an opportunistic streak, but my lack of one probably accounts for my lack of political success. He has been known to keep company, but only such as would now be found in the governing coalition of Israel, to which uncritical Respect must of course be accorded.
And George is currently one of those half a dozen people at any given time, if there are that many, whose absence from Parliament makes it feel like the wrong Parliament. Is every one of our 650 MPs better informed than George Galloway, more articulate, better connected internationally, and altogether better equipped to hold the Government to account? Is Kim Leadbeater? Was Jo Cox?