Saddam’s buddy

hitchens1
Christopher Hitchens

Over the course of his long career in the Commons, George Galloway has become a unique figure on the British political landscape. Describing himself as a “revolutionary,” he hates Britain, hates America, hates the West, hates democracy, hates capitalism. And he hates them all so very much that he seems to love every form of despotism that represents a challenge to these things. The worst day of his life, he has said, was the day the USSR fell. As Christopher Hitchens once noted, Galloway has been involved ever since in “the pathetic search for an alternative fatherland.” He found it in Saddam’s Iraq, gushing that “just as Stalin industrialised the Soviet Union, so on a different scale Saddam plotted Iraq’s own Great Leap Forward.”

gallowayhussein
With Saddam

While savaging leaders in the U.S., Britain, and elsewhere in the West, Galloway was an unapologetic fan of Saddam, whom he visited twice in Baghdad. In a 1994 speech, he addressed the bloodthirsty tyrant directly, saying: “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.” When Saddam invaded Kuwait, Galloway defended him, calling Kuwait – counterfactually – “clearly a part of the greater Iraqi whole, stolen from the motherland by perfidious Albion.” He also whitewashed Saddam’s massacre of Kurds and Shias, insisting that there was “massive violence on both sides.”

gallowayusay
With Usay

In 2002, the Mail published an “interview” Galloway held with Saddam, in which their chumminess comes through vividly. He also palled around with Saddam’s son Usay, known as “The Wolf,” whose own barbaric practices include the killing of thousands of people and the torturing of athletes who didn’t perform as well as expected. Recordings exist of George and Usay joking about weight loss and putting down the U.S. “I’d like you to know,” the Scots MP promised the Iraqi tyrant’s heir, “that we are with you till the end.”

gallowayaziz
With Tariq Aziz

If he was friendly with Saddam and son, he was even closer to Saddam’s deputy premier, Tariq Aziz. While Aziz was in power, Galloway counseled him on warfare: “Don’t stand in lines, or hunker down in trenches….You will be mown down or buried alive.” When fighting a superpower, he advised, stay in motion. “I brought Tariq Aziz all the writings of Che Guevara and Mao Tse Tung on the arts of revolutionary war and he had them translated into Arabic,” Galloway later claimed. “Fight a war of movement, take the uniforms off, swim among the Iraqi people and whatever their views on the regime, they will undoubtedly provide deep aquifers of support for a patriotic resistance.”

gallowaypresentingsaddamwithpennant1994
Galloway presenting Saddam with a pennant, 1994

In 2006, by which time Aziz had been taken into custody by U.S. forces, Galloway wrote him a letter of sympathy that began “Your excellency, dear brother, friend.” Describing Aziz’s detention as “cruel and unjustified,” Galloway told Aziz: “I have thought of you and of the long days and nights we spent in each other’s company….I have made many enemies in this struggle. They are your enemies also. They are my enemies because I am your friend.”

But Galloway’s Iraqi ties are only a tiny part of a very large and ugly picture. More tomorrow. 

George Galloway, king of the stooges?

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.

cohen2
Nick Cohen

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. 

galloway1
George Galloway

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.

hussain
Imran Hussain

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.

More tomorrow.