When Naz Shah, a Labour Party politician who represents Bradford West in Parliament, stood up last year to make her first speech to her fellow MPs, she broke with the custom of praising her immediate predecessor. And with good reason.
That predecessor was George Galloway – a man only a creep would eulogize. To be sure, because of his outsized personality, colorful language, rich Scottish brogue, and constant bluster, it’s tempting to dismiss him as a cartoon version of a useful stooge, someone who’s simply too far out there to take seriously.
As columnist Nick Cohen wrote recently, too many Brits have viewed Galloway indulgently as “a character,” a lovable clown who, whatever his foibles, is at least “passionate about his beliefs,” instead of being one of those “poll-driven, focus-group–tested on-message politicians, who speak in soundbites.” For years, complained Cohen, “Galloway was treated with an indulgence that, like a cardiogram, revealed the sicknesses at the heart of the liberal-left.” Sickness? Yes, because any man who’s enjoyed as much power and support as Galloway has, and who’s been such a faithful lapdog for the very worst of totalitarian tyrants, should be taken very seriously indeed. Galloway makes most other useful stooges look like half-hearted amateurs; he could give courses in licking the boots of international bullies, and in demonizing the virtuous and free.
Now sixty-one years old, Galloway was first elected to Parliament from Glasgow in 1987. In 2003, he was kicked out of Labour for supporting jihad against his own country’s troops and for championing the Baath Party “resistance” against the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. He then joined Respect – the Unity Coalition (later simply called the Respect Party) – described by Cohen as an “alliance… between the Trotskyist far left and the Islamic far right” and by Christopher Hitchens as an example of “[t]he servants of the one god finally meet[ing] the votaries of the one-party state” – and was sent back to Westminster as MP for the London neighborhood of Bethnal Green (which is 50% Muslim) and, later, beginning in 2012, for West Bradford (also heavily Muslim) in Lancashire.
In 2012, the Islamic Forum of Europe and Muslim Public Affairs Committee both took part in Galloway’s re-election campaign. Galloway publicly questioned the orthodoxy of the Muslim Labour candidate, Imran Hussain, telling “all the Muslim brothers and sisters” in his district that he himself was a teetotaler and wondering aloud whether that was true of Hussain. “I’m a better Pakistani than he will ever be,” Galloway told one audience. “God knows who’s a Muslim and who is not. And a man that’s never out of the pub shouldn’t be going around telling people you should vote for him because he’s a Muslim.” In 2015, Galloway went even lower, despicably accusing his Labour opponent, Naz Shah, of lying about having been subjected to a forced marriage when she was a girl in Pakistan.