Galloway’s heroes

epa02375994 British PM George Galloway poses with a gift he received during his reception at the Arab Cultural Center in the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, Syria, 05 October 2010. Galloway leads the Gaza-bound Viva Palestina 5 aid convoy that arrived in Damascus on 02 October from Turkey. The convoy includes 143 trucks loaded with medical and humanitarian aids and 370 Arab and foreign activists. Galloway said he is determined to go on with his aid convoy to Palestinians under Israeli siege despite the Egyptian authorities' decision to ban his entry to Egypt. EPA/YOUSSEF BADAWI
George Galloway

Recently, columnist Nick Cohen noted that the folks on the left who used to come to the defense of George Galloway have gone silent, having finally realized, apparently, just how loathsome a creature they were associating with. The same, it might be added, has been true of the defenders of Hugo Chávez: with a few exceptions, those who exulted over Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution in its first years have stopped doing so, having seen the increasingly tragic consequences of chavista socialism.

It’s no surprise that Galloway himself was an early booster of chavismo – and that, long after it declined from a chic cause into an embarrassment for the international left, he continued to eulogize it.

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Hugo Chávez

Back in 2007, Galloway lauded Chávez in the Guardian, sounding for all the world like John Reed celebrating the birth of the USSR:

The atmosphere in Caracas is fervid. The vast shanty towns draping the hillside around the cosmopolitan centre bustle with workers’ cooperatives, trade union meetings, marches and debates. The $18bn fund for social welfare set up by Chávez is already bearing fruit. Education, food distribution and primary healthcare programmes now cover the majority for the first time. Queues form outside medical centres filled with thousands of Cuban doctors dispensing care to a population whose health was of no value to those who sat atop Venezuela’s immense wealth in the past.

Galloway rejected out of hand the “mendacious propaganda that Chávez is a dictator and human rights abuser.”

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Galloway with Fidel Castro

In 2012, he actually spent two weeks in Venezuela campaigning for Hugo’s re-election; the next year, when Hugo shuffled off this mortal coil, Galloway was quick to mourn the caudillo’s death, calling it “a body blow for the poor and the oppressed,” praising his friend for having “transformed Venezuela by the force of his will,” and calling him “a veritable Spartacus” who “rallied an army of not slaves, but those despised by the oligarchy.” He celebrated Chávez for standing up to Israel and to “North American hegemony.” By this point, it was clear to every pair of eyes unblinkered by ideology that Chávez’s only accomplishment had been to destroy his country’s economy – along with its liberties and human rights. But Galloway never let real-world conditions get in the way of his uncritical admiration for absolutism and contempt for freedom.

What about Castro? Check this out. Of all the people you’ve met in your lifetime, who’s had the most positive impact on you?” an interviewer once asked Galloway. His reply: “Fidel Castro. Fidel Castro is the greatest man I’ve ever met by several miles….The most inspiring, the most charismatic, the most wise, and the most tireless of all the people I’ve ever met. He’s my real hero.”

And let’s not forget Putin. Since 2013, both Galloway and his wife have been on the payroll of the Kremlin’s RT television network. In the first half of that year alone (while still a member of the British Parliament, mind you), he earned £25,600 – about $37,000 – for going on RT from time to time to trash his own country and extol Putin. The Russian president has certainly gotten his money’s worth out of employing Galloway. In his appearances on RT, the wily Scotsman has consistently defended Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, arguing that Russia “has every right, indeed, obligation, to act in defense of its compatriots, its citizens, its economic and military assets which it has on the territory of the Ukraine by agreement and by treaty.” He’s called  the U.S. approach to the Kremlin actions “ludicrous” and counseled the EU not to “poke the bear with a stick.” And, in the ultimate act of moral degeneracy, he’s smeared patriotic, democracy-loving Ukrainians who oppose Russian intrusion in their affairs as “terrorists,” “ultra-nationalists,” and “Nazis.” There’s no low to which he won’t go. 

Labour’s Madame Mao

We’ve already written here about the head of Britain’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, who’s a fan of Hugo Chávez’s disastrous socialist “revolution” in Venezuela, and about the party’s recently appointed spokesman, Seumas Milne, who (to put it mildly) has a soft spot for Stalin.

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Diane Abbott

Well, here’s another high-profile Labourite for whom the label of useful stooge is manifestly appropriate: Diane Abbott, an MP since 1987 and currently Shadow Secretary of State for International Development. Abbott was Britain’s first black female MP, and has long been notorious for her incendiary comments about race. In 1988, for example, she told an audience in the U.S. that “the British invented racism.” And eight years later, she complained that a hospital in her “multicultural” district had hired nursing trainees from Finland. Why? Because, she said, the “blonde, blue-eyed” Finns had probably “never have met a black person before, let alone touched one,” and were therefore incapable of handling black patients. “The hospital,” she maintained, “should have taken on Caribbean staff – they know the language, British culture and institutions.”

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Ian Bruce

Abbott’s remarks outraged one of her Tory colleagues, Ian Bruce, who said: “I have never heard such racist rubbish from an MP in recent years….Most Finnish girls are dark-haired,” he noted, and all of the Nordic nations “have people from African and Caribbean countries living there.” The Royal College of Nursing reacted too, issuing a statement to the effect that Abbott’s comments seemed intended to “set nurse against nurse.” The story even made the news in Finland, where Katri Luukka, head of a nursing school in Helsinki, called Abbott’s statement “[r]eally thick, even for an MP.” The Spectator pointed out that some nursing trainees from Finland were, in fact, black, and that the then-reigning Miss Finland was also black.

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Andrew Neil

Did Abbott learn from that misstep? Nope. On a BBC TV program in 2010, she said that “West Indian mums will go to the wall for their children” – in response to which the host, Andrew Neil, asked: “So black mums love their kids more than white mums, do they?” The next year, in another TV appearance, she called David Cameron and Nick Clegg, the then leaders of the Conservative and Liberal Democratic parties respectively, “two posh white boys.” And the year after that, she stated in a tweet that whites “love playing ‘divide and rule.’ We should not play their game.”

MP for Stratford on Avon Nadhim Zahawi adjusts his glasses during a discussion on 'The United Kingdom in Action' during the second day of the Conservative Party Conference at the ICC, Birmingham.
Nadhim Zahawi

After that tweet, there were calls for her to resign. Iraqi-born Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi said, “If this was reversed, I guarantee a white politician would have to resign their frontbench post or be sacked.” But Abbott, in a live TV interview with Sky News (see the first video below), held firm, insisting that the problem was not with her views but with people who’d interpreted her words “maliciously.” Her tough stand didn’t last for long, however. During the Sky News interview, her cell phone rang. The caller was Ed Miliband, who at the time was the Labour Party leader. While the TV cameras continued to roll, he gave Abbott “a severe dressing down,” ordering her “to apologise unreservedly” for her tweet. She obeyed – kind of. “I understand people have interpreted my comments as making generalisations about white people,” she said in a statement released after the interview. “I do not believe in doing that. I apologise for any offence caused.”

But none of these foolish remarks was quite as disgraceful as a claim that Abbott made on a TV chat show (see video below) back in 2008 – and that the Spectator reminded us of in a recent item. Michael Portillo, sitting beside her on the show, observed that Prince Harry had been widely criticized for wearing an SS uniform to a party – but “had he worn a Mao outfit, nobody would have blinked.” When host Andrew Neil asked why this was the case, Abbott chimed in: “I suppose that some people would judge that on balance Mao did more good than wrong. We can’t say that about the Nazis.” 

Exactly what good did Mao do, in Abbott’s view, that would outweigh his murder of tens of millions of people? Abbott’s answer: “He led his country from feudalism, he helped to defeat the Japanese, and he left his country on the verge of the great economic success they are having now.”

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Mao Zedong

Well, let’s break that down. On her first point: yes, Mao led the Chinese from feudalism…to totalitarianism. On her second point: no, Mao didn’t help defeat the Japanese; Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang did. Third, while Taiwan, under the Nationalist Chinese, was becoming a developed nation, the Chinese economy under Mao remained undeveloped. Even now, four decades after Mao’s death, when China is considered an economic powerhouse, its per capital GDP, at around $7,000, is still only a fraction of Taiwan’s, at $32,000. In short, Mao didn’t pave the way for his country’s economic success – his imposition of brutal totalitarian rule prevented his people from attaining Western-style prosperity.

Of course, even if Abbott’s assertions about Mao’s supposed accomplishments were absolutely true, her belief that they somehow outweighed or legitimized or made up for his annihilation of tens of millions of his own people is reprehensible, and should have resulted in her immediate forced resignation from Parliament. But no: she’s still there, and seems to have no plans to leave anytime soon.