When asked why he’s thinking of doing this, his justification has had two major points: “I am awesome” and that he’s against “separatism.” So we can expect him to run an inspired campaign about how much we need him waffling away in the Scottish Parliament, and against independence. Just check out his recent performance on Newsnight Scotland, where he managed to not mention a single socialist policy, talked about how he was a celebrity and the only piece of politics he did advocate was British unionism:
Scotland needs another egotistical former Big Brother contestant politician like it needs a violent dose of the runs. His intervention couldn’t come at a worse time, and will be pretty much universally unwelcome by socialists who have actually been trying to do stuff in Glasgow, while he was off on his adventures elsewhere.
When the Scottish Parliament was set up, the SSP was formed as an attempt to unify the left and make sure all socialists were working together to try and get someone elected. Of course, back then, George was still a Labour MP, and not interested in anything else going on. Until he was kicked out of the Labour party, and decided to go looking for glory in London, where he managed to get elected as a RESPECT MP in Bethnal Green and Bow.
However, in the last election he didn’t manage to get back in when he stood in a different area, and he’s now casting around looking for something else to do. Hence the brainwave he’s had now – “I can get in up there!”
The problem is, he’s took the decision without actually consulting the existing Scottish left. In the amendment going to RESPECT’s conference, it says:
“Respect has not organized in or contested elections in Scotland in the past because of the hegemony of other parties to the left of Labour. This hegemony no longer exists.”
So speak a bunch of people based in England, who have no idea about the left in Scotland. All the signatories are English based people, because RESPECT doesn’t exist in Scotland. But yet again, English socialists think they know best what will work up here.
People from down south just don’t seem able to get their heads round the idea that Scotland is a different country, with a different political situation. Pretty much all the organised left in Scotland, at least on paper, is in favour of independence. They realise what a farce it would be if there was an independence referendum and socialists were arguing for keeping the imperialist, war mongering British state. If George is aspiring to be the voice of the left in the Scottish Parliament, he needs to realise that he’s totally out of step with Scottish socialists on this issue. But then, we shouldn’t be surprised if a London based organisation, that thinks it’s ok to turn up and plant their flag like modern day colonialists, don’t get it.
You would think though that people in RESPECT would have at least the common courtesy to talk to people before they announced they were coming to enlighten the northern barbarians. The arrogance of just declaring this is the way things are going to be without consultation is amazing.
Socialists in Scotland were able to get elected when they were united. But in 2006, Tommy Sheridan and his supporters decided to leave the SSP and set up another celebrity ego project, Solidarity. Since then we’ve had the even more obscure Scottish Trade Union and Socialist Coalition set up by those same folk. The result is that there’s likely to be at least 2 organisations battling it out for left wing votes in Glasgow next year (SSP and Solidarity/No2EU/STUSC). What this situation calls for is – MOAR PEOPLE STANDING!!!
George and Tommy: best pals, but for how much longer?
In the past, George vehemently supported Tommy (with such bizarre statements as “Let the monkeys shriek in their trees, the lion walks on by. The Lion is Tommy Sheridan.”) Apparently now though he thinks that’s not a runner any more, and thinks what Scotland needs is . . . HIM. He’s even gone as far as saying he thinks there haven’t been any big hitters in the Scottish Parliament, conveniently forgetting his former bromance with Tommy.
What this will actually mean is an incredibly divisive move at a time when the left in general needs to be thinking about the ways we can work together. There’s no existing organisation that will support him, given that his antics down south have alienated most of the other socialist groups away, and there’s no way the SSP will be able to support him. He claims he’s under “intense pressure” from “football fans” and “the city’s Asian community.” We don’t buy it. We think the only pressure he’s under is the pressure to find a new elected position and continue his political career. It’s as if when the SSP was at its height, we’d decided we were going to take England in hand and set up the ‘Scottish Socialist Party – England.’
So consider this a plea to members of RESPECT to live up to their party’s name, and not blunder into a difficult situation and make it much much worse. Three lists standing for parliament almost certainly guarantees that no socialists will be elected, and there’s no way RESPECT can be a unifying force for socialists up here. Yet another “socialist” group getting set up would be a disaster for Scotland.
But it doesn’t look like George is going to listen to reason on this one, he seems determined to plough on anyway. So, for when the day comes that he announces he’s standing, here’s a few of the reasons that SSY won’t be flocking to his banner, in advance:
“The seas are rough out there. Getting out of a liner and into a Para Handy puffer on the storm-tossed seas just for the pleasure of shouting ‘och aye the noo’ as loud as we like doesn’t strike me as all that smart. How about you?”
Independence is pretty fundamental to how we see social progress for Scotland. There’s currently half-a-state in Scotland, and we need to make it a fully independent democratic republic with the power to really tackle Scotland’s social problems. We also need Scotland to be withdrawn from a state that was set up specifically to be a stronger imperial power, and continues to be one today, with Scottish soldiers dying in Afghanistan. There’s just no way we can support electing yet another unionist MSP.
2. He insists on taking the full salary as an MP/MSP. When the SSP had people elected, we made sure they only took the average wage of a skilled worker, so that they could really represent the people who elected them, rather than becoming a well off part of the establishment. This is a well established socialist principle that goes back to the Paris Commune. Not for George though – he says he “couldn’t live on three worker’s wages,” and that he spends his money on “the things I need to function properly as a leading figure in a part of the British political system.”
George lets "page 3 trollopes" know where he stands
3. He’s against a woman’s right to choose. This is another pretty basic political fundamental for us: women have the right to control their own bodies, and restricting abortion would cost untold lives in Scotland – we know this because around the world 200 women die every day due to not being able to access safe and legal abortion services.
To be fair to the RESPECT party it prominently states that its position is pro-choice. It’s just not one shared by their most prominent member, who in the past hassn’t turn up at any time it’s voted on to get out of voting against. But if GG ends up running some kind of independent campaign (‘George 4 Glasgow’), will he even have that restriction placed on him? For us, it would be pretty much impossible to support an anti-abortionist for the Scottish Parliament.
(In addition, he’s not above spouting some really cringeworthy Swiss Tony style remarks about women. Check out some of the belters from his book:
“Air-headed blow-dried telly-dollies”
“all folded arms, chins and bosoms”
“wives of the elite” wouldn’t “get a spot in Sex and the City”
or indeed these two particular offerings from his Record coloumn on key issues of the day: ‘Check out the hot M&S underwear ads‘ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean boobs‘. Or the way he ganged up on Jodie Marsh in the Big Brother house using language like “page 3 trollope”. The point about this stuff is its really embarassing and reflective of a lack of engagement with feminism which is essential for socialists. Which leads us on to our next point . . .)
4. We just don’t need another cheesy, Big Brother “lefty” celebrity in Scotland, we’ve had quite enough of the main one (who George used to love)!
No article like this would be complete without talking about the cat thing. I’d actually forgotten he’d done that, until I was reading about him again the other night and burst out laughing. See if you can actually bear to watch it all the way to the end:
Leave all politics aside, that is just 1 and a half minutes of wrongness.
There’s lots of other reasons people on the left have criticised Galloway, such as the fact that he’s a bit too friendly with certain Middle East governments who do lots of nasty stuff. However, I’m trying at this stage to steer clear of things Galloway fans would argue about, and stick straight to some of the reasons we could never support his candidacy for Glasgow. Things that Galloway himself accepts are his views that are fundamentally different from ours. Three of the above four points are things that George himself accepts, and that we feel are pretty much matters that we couldn’t compromise on, and the 4th is just an undisputable fact: CBB was an embarassing mistake, and it would make us cringe to go out and tell people to vote for that guy.
However, the main point here isn’t to bash George Galloway, but to appeal to members of RESPECT to get some common sense. You have no organisation in Scotland. Trying to impose it up here will cause further alienation and division in a country that’s had quite enough of that on the left. We quite like some of the folk in RESPECT. Please don’t be so arrogant as to support this move, as it will do ZERO good for anybody.