Nick Cohen

Farewell, George Galloway

Farewell, George Galloway
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It takes an achingly long time for the British to see a lickspittle of mass murderers for what he is. For years, you jump up and down shouting 'look at what he’s done!' All but a handful ignore you. But he’s a character, the rest cry. He’s not like those poll-driven, focus-group–tested on-message politicians, who speak in soundbites. He is passionate about his beliefs.

So he is, you reply, and that’s the problem. Since the marches against the Iraq war of 2003, I have written against George Galloway. He has supported Baathist regimes it is fair to describe as fascist: Saddam Hussein’s Sunni Arab dictatorship in Iraq after it had gassed the Kurdish ethnic minority, and Bashar al-Assad'Shia Arab dictatorship as his terror provoked revolution.

This is the leader of the British anti-war movement, is it? A man whose commitment to pacifism in no way inhibits him from endorsing the practitioners of genocide? This is the tribune British Muslims elected first in the East End of London and then in Bradford, is it? A man who has supported regimes that have murdered more Muslims than NATO and Israel have ever managed? This is the inspiration left-wing journalists lauded as the model for all their comrades to follow, is it? A man who must treat accusations of rape apology and Jew baiting as a habitual part of his political life.

Apparently so. For years, Galloway was treated with an indulgence that, like a cardiogram, revealed the sicknesses at the heart of the liberal-left.

And now it has stopped.

Slowly, his supporters have edged away. There are no pieces from the white left in the Guardian and what’s left of the Independent defending Galloway these days. You should not expect to see them because contrition is not a British virtue. Instead we edge away from an embarrassment, who has brought shame on us. Nothing needs to be said. No apologies need to be offered.  We know what to do without needing to be told. Quietly, so quietly that we hope no one will hear us, we make our excuses and leave.

British Muslims, who twice returned Galloway to Parliament in London and Bradford, are tiptoeing to the exit too. In the sectarian war between Sunni and Shia, Galloway, Corbyn and Milne have decided to make their excuses for Assad, and his Russian and Iranian backers. This is not a smart political move because the overwhelming majority of British Muslims are Sunni. But then the first point to grasp about the far left is that, like the far right, it is astonishingly stupid before it is anything else.

According to the latest polls for the race to be London Mayor Galloway’s support stands at 1 per cent. As the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 per cent, his actual support could be minus 2 per cent, which is where it deserves to be in my humble opinion.

As his popularity has vanished, Galloway has vanished too. He attended the first mayoral hustings, and brayed and barked as he had always done in the past. But as he realised that his candidacy was going nowhere he did what he had never done before and stepped out of the limelight. He wasn’t at the Pride hustings, while the leaders of other minor parties, Women’s Equality and Ukip, were on stage to make their case. He wasn’t at the Patchwork Foundation hustings or at the LBC mayoral hustings either. Was he not invited to these events or did he not want to attend?

Even if he gets only 1 per cent of the London vote, his candidacy could still prove important. As I have argued before, Galloway is Corbyn’s insurance policy. I am nowhere near as confident as many of my colleagues that Sadiq Khan will win. Zac Goldsmith may be running a classic fearmongering campaign in the approved Lynton Crosby manner. But the point about Lynton Crosby’s campaigns is that they usually win.

Labour activists have 'factored in' dismal performances in Scotland, Wales and the English regions, but they expect to win London. If they lose, Corbyn will be in trouble and he and the far left will need a cover story. They will blame Khan for denouncing Corbyn. If only he had not moved so far to the right, they will say, Labour would have won.  I accept that a dismal Galloway performance hardly supports this argument – if Londoners wanted a 'left-wing candidate' why didn’t they vote for Galloway instead of Khan? But as I said, Labour’s leaders are first and foremost astonishingly stupid people, and it is cruel to expect coherence from them.

George Galloway’s vanity matches his malignancy. It will crush him and should delight the rest of us that after 16 years of getting away with cringing to mass murderers he is now, in his twilight years, reduced to being the flimsiest of alibis.