Reflections on Question Time of 5th February 2015

In the wake of last week’s BBC Question Time and subsequent events I wanted to make some observations. They are not in order of importance indeed to an extent the reverse.
I feel very let down by David Dimbleby. I have known him a long time, have always respected him and I didn’t expect the serial failures of which he was clearly guilty.
Again in no order of importance; his gratuitously insulting comment “when you turn up” was not just fatuous (he knows well that I am in parliament every day for much of my last 27 years) but was the only jibe at any of the panelists last night. Why? To insult just one of five panelists – me – in the highly charged atmosphere of the Finchley studio was questionable judgement to say the least.
Mr Dimbleby told me immediately after the show that the final question posed by the audience was not in fact the question which had been tabled and selected. The last part of the question which sought to put me on show trial, make the final part of the show about me, had merely been added after the fact by the questioner. This has subsequently been admitted by the questioner in the Jewish Chronicle.
But there there was no point in telling me this in private with an apologetic air (he did not actually apologise, I gave him more credit than he deserved in my initial comments after the show) when millions of people oblivious to the trickery were about to watch the results on the show.
Mr Dimbleby had a couple of options when this ruse occurred:
He could have shot the question again, the show is not live, there is time for editing (although the only person who was edited was me with a chunk of my answer on Bradford schools mysteriously excised).
He could have made it clear on the recording, immediately, that the question had been changed, with obviously potentially defamatory consequences.
He did neither and with predictable results.
The audience selection supposedly scientifically calibrated was laughably biased. Ludicrous and counter productive though that turned out to be, there was no guarantee of that outcome.
I know of several pro-Palestinian supporters, Muslims, and Respect members who were turned down in their attempts to join the audience. Fanatic supporters of Israel evidently had no such difficulty.
Contrary to contrived opinion, Finchley is not in an overwhelmingly Jewish borough. There are, to name just one section of the Finchley community, many Muslims who live there. Not a single visibly Muslim person made it to the audience.
Instead of punishing those loudly shouting against me, whom he had repeatedly asked to stop barracking me trying to stop me from speaking, Mr Dimbleby explicitly told two of them that he would call them to speak and then cut me off in order to facilitate it. It would never happen in parliament.
A special place in the hall of shame must go to the Guardian’s executive editor Jonathan Freedland selected for the role of chief prosecutor in the show trial. The Guardian, a faux liberal newspaper which last summer accepted (that which even Rupert Murdoch had declined) a paid full page advertisement from an Israeli organisation while the blood was still running in the streets of Gaza seeking to justify the slaughter and slander the Palestinians, thousands of whom had by then been slain.
There is intense competition for the title of Hypocrite in Chief at The Guardian but Freedland in my view shades it.
Once the doctored question had been posed, he lit the touch paper before smugly stepping well back. He made a series of distorted allegations against me knowing that if I got into rebutting them there would have been no time for the bigger picture. Like a latter day McCarthy he patted a portfolio which he claimed contained the basis for his allegations. Who produced this dodgy dossier must be open to question.
He said that I had claimed “Israel was behind the revolution (sic) in the Ukraine” but this is false.
I did say on a television programme that the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz had run a feature on at least two Israeli army reservist officers who themselves boasted of their role in the fighting in the Maidan coup against elected government of the Ukraine, prior to the overthrow of the President, the burning of the Parliament and the holding of guns to the heads of the parliamentarians to force them to validate the coup.
In that television broadcast last year I pointed out the irony of Israel army officers lending their military expertise to a “revolution” the cutting edge of which was provided by (and seen by all to be) ultra right wing Ukrainian nationalists and several thousand explicit fascists who held aloft the portrait of their historic leader Stepan Bandera who openly collaborated with the Nazi occupation forces and herded Ukrainian Jews into the cattle trucks bound for the death camps. Thus a statement of mine attacking antisemitism and the Holocaust was transformed by Freedland into a charge on my indictment for antisemitism.
He further alleged that I had claimed that Israel had supplied chemical weapons used in the attack on Goutha which in 2013 had propelled the US and Britain and others onto the tarmac, their engines revving ready to be the Air Force of what has now become ISIS.
I did say at the time of the attack that one theory was that the Syrian ‘rebels’ were the ones who had used these weapons on the basis that the  Syrian regime was unlikely to have chosen the day of the arrival of the United Nations chemical weapons inspectors to launch a chemical weapons attack a few kilometres from where the inspectors were just settling into their hotel. I continue to believe that this was the case. I did say that if they did one possible source of the chemicals could have been Israel.
As it happens this theory was superseded by my later claim on the BBC Daily Politics with Jo Coburn that the supply of the chemical weapons was more likely to have been provided by other regional powers.
But there was nothing outlandish about my first theory. The proximity of Israeli forces to the Syrian ‘rebels’ is at its closest a few hundred metres.
 Israel has a mountain of chemical biological and nuclear weaponry. Israel has used its chemical weapons against Palestinians and UN facilities in the territory. Israel is militarily engaged in Syria against the Assad regime and has repeatedly bombed their positions, facilities and allies. Most recently in the Quneitra on the Golan Heights in January of this year.
The Israeli media has reported that wounded Islamist fighters have been treated and sent back to the battle field from Israeli field hospitals and in Israel itself.
Finally the Israeli security service the Mossad is more than capable of assisting the Syrian opposition in such a way if they were minded to do so.
Moreover both of these instances cited by Freedland were broadcast on a television station no longer available to British TV viewers nor can they have been seen by many in Britain. Certainly to hold these responsible for a spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK is absurd. In addition to these two specific allegations Freedland claimed that my “rhetoric” had in part produced the atmosphere for the spike. He did not elaborate because he could not. All of my rhetoric and for more than forty years is against Israel. None of it is against Jews. The only time I ever mention Jews in my “rhetoric” is to single out Jews for honour and praise, to repetitively insist that our fight is NOT against Jews. And of course to describe as I did again on QT (though my critics were not listening) the Holocaust as the greatest crime in human history and to call for the denial of it to be a criminal offence in Britain as it is in several European countries.
Freedland’s own rhetoric spoke volumes however. He referred to last summers slaughter as a “resumption of violence” in Gaza. Firstly violence has never ceased in Gaza for almost half a century at least if you include military occupation, siege, calorie-counting quarantine, targeted and un-targeted assassinations and regular full scale invasion as violence as most people would.
Last summer was not the ‘resumption of violence’ but the cold-blooded killing and maiming of thousands of people, most of them women and children, inside a prison camp from which there was no means of escape.
In drawing on the CST report coincidentally released on same the day of Question Time, Freedland deliberately exaggerated its contents. Whilst every single incident of antisemitic bigotry is to be utterly condemned it is simply untrue to say as he did that 1000 attacks on Jews took place in Britain on 2014. In fact the number of Jews attacked was 84. One of which was a serious violent attack. I know about those as I’ve suffered one myself by a Jewish convert and Zionist fanatic wearing an IDF shirt.
The figure of 1000 includes for example “on-line” anti-semitic slurs and no doubt, threats. That would be a quiet year for me. I’ve received about a thousand such slurs in the last few weeks. It is hurtful alarming and disgusting when such things happen and the police should deal with it rigorously. But it is not the same as an attack as most people would understand it. There is and always has been anti-semitism in Britain as there has always been racism of other kinds. I am its implacable enemy and have been all my life.
But if there are, as Freedland said,around 300,000 Jews in Britain then statistically speaking the number of attacks upon Jews even if we include attacks on their properties bears no comparison to the numbers of hate attacks upon other minorities including homosexuals, black people, Asians, not to mention Muslims who have suffered many times over more such attacks than have British Jews, the main difference being there are not many police officers standing guard outside mosques. Recorded anti-semitic hate crimes constitute 0.5% of all recorded hate crimes in Britain almost the same proportion as Jews to the population as a whole.
All attacks on any minorities or their property should surely be condemned equally. They certainly were not on Question Time.
Finally Freedland was right about one thing though. Every time there is as he put it “trouble” in the Middle East there is a rise in anti-Semitism just like every time there is an outrage by Islamist extremists there is a rise in Islamophobia.
All the more reason then to resist and repel the false conflation, the fake synonyms that Israel equals Jews and Muslims equal terrorism. Freedland like so many liberals wants to have it both way.
Having painted a picture of a Britain seething with anti-semitism he then said that Britain was “not an anti-semitic” country. He said the fear was of a “Paris style attack” motivated by Al Qaeda or ISIS type elements.
But what could that conceivably have to do with me? Is there anyone in this country more opposed to these fanatical head-cutting heart-eaters than me? Has anyone denounced such people and their ideas more loudly or for longer than me? It is a pity Mr Freedland doesn’t listen to my television shows more often…
It is those who insist with such vehemence that they must defend what Israel does, that it does it in their name, and in the name of their religion who are responsible for the blurring of the dichotomy upon which I always, without exception, insist.
I turn momentarily to the bit-players on the panel.
Cristina Odone the saintly figure with wandering hands who is never done telling us what a Christian she is, her voice breaking with emotion, told us of the melancholy sight of police officers guarding a synagogue she had just passed. It is indeed a sad sign of the times and quite right that the police are there. She obviously is blissfully unaware, if she wasn’t she would have mentioned it, of the actual attacks upon mosques and other Muslim property which happens so regularly in Britain that it scarcely makes the news (at least that might be the reason it scarcely makes the news). In my own constituency just last year a fascist organisation actually invaded several mosques and terrorised the worshippers therein as well as invading the home of the then Lord Mayor of Bradford just because he was a Muslim. An elderly Muslim man in Birmingham was decapitated by a Muslim-hating fanatic prior to the atrocious murder of Lee Rigby. The two events attracted very different levels of media coverage, and sadly there were no police officers standing guard to prevent them.
But Odone is obviously equally unaware of the plight of the Christians of Palestine. The pleas of the hierarchy in Jerusalem have not been heard by Saint Cristina. Even the Holy Father praying at the Apartheid Wall with the Catholic faithful passed her by. She doesn’t know that Bethlehem is under siege, surrounded by checkpoints and walls and that expectant mothers often give birth, and die at them. She doesn’t know that Nazareth seethes with anger at the cruel fate of the Palestinian people trapped there, as “Israeli Arabs”, the lowest class of “citizens” in the apartheid system.
Last and certainly least is the hapless Tristram Hunt MP (who attended the same expensive public school as Freedland, in fact I was the only person sitting at the table who hadn’t been educated at a private school). Struggling all night as a B (lair) division stand in for New Labour he said only two things of any note.
The first was when he managed to slander the entire worldwide movement for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel as a movement for boycotting “Jewish goods and shops”. This slander was probably the result of stupidity rather than wickedness though I’m not sure which is worse in a man who wants to be in charge of our schools and universities.
And the last was when in his peroration he made the ritual act of obeisance and pledged himself and his party to the eternal and undivided determination to ensure the safety and security of the state of Israel. That wasn’t a result of stupidity. That was the real New Labour deal.
George Galloway MP
House of Commons
London

Why I am a Bennite – A Eulogy to the Rt Hon Tony Benn by George Galloway MP

I was a “Bennite” (which became a considerable term of abuse in the 1980s) since the 1960s. I was brought up in a Labour household in which the premiership of Harold Wilson was the sun and in his constellation Mr Benn was the brightest of the many stars clustered around that Labour cabinet. There were so many stars – James Callaghan Roy Jenkins Barbara Castle Tony Crosland Richard Crossman Dennis Healey George Brown – but even in that company, the young, fresh-faced, bursting with ideas Wedgwood-Benn (as he was then known) stood out.

For us he seemed to exemplify the “white-hot heat” of the “technological revolution” – Mr Wilson’s wheeze for disguising his socialist purpose from a hostile media and the “Gnomes of Zurich” who, even then with their financial power had the means of destroying any real Labour government. Mr Benn was brimful of innovative unorthodoxy, and seemed just what the doctor ordered.

From his heroic ( and successful) fight to remain in the Commons upon the death of his father Viscount Stansgate – a Viscountcy which Mr Benn was to be forced to inherit – through to the Hovercraft, Concorde, TSR2, nuclear power, special edition postage stamps, tape-recording (we’d scarcely heard of it) his own interviews and speeches, he was every inch the “young Lochinvar”. Dashing, romantic, eloquent, unafraid.

The “technological revolution” cooled, the crucible crumbled but my love for Tony Benn never did which is why his death today at the age of 88 surrounded by his family whom he loved with extraordinary zeal is not just any other passing and has caused, unusually for me, the cancellation of a raft of important engagements.

I first met Tony Benn (as he was by then) at the Labour conference in Blackpool in 1974. I was 20 years old, the Secretary of Dundee West Constituency Labour Party. Whilst I was expressing my hero-worship of him, he told me that I was “the youngest constituency party secretary in Labour Party history”. It made that badge seem much brighter.

We remained in touch throughout the 1970’s as Tony Benn emerged as the most important, most popular socialist – as opposed to mere Labour – figure in Britain in the 20th century. When Mr Wilson and then Mr Callaghan’s governments (1974-79) ran into more and more troubled waters it was Tony Benn who became the parliamentary (and cabinet) focus of the fight for an “alternative economic strategy” being developed by the extra-parliamentary left and the trades unions particularly the engineering unions AUEW and TASS their supervisory section led by the immensely impressive Ken Gill.

On the eve of the Devolution Referendum in 1979 Mr Benn addressed a huge Yes Rally in Dundee’s Caird Hall attended by over one thousand people on a bitter winter’s night and gave a speech – the tape-cassette of which he sent me and which I still have – in which he gave quite simply the greatest speech for the socialist idea I have ever heard, bar none. In the vast cavernous auditorium his rolling cadences, his masterful command of the English language, his (by then) thinly coded attacks on the collapse into financial orthodoxy of his cabinet colleagues, the clarity of his call for the unity of working people on this island whilst supporting Home Rule within it, his unbelievably powerful case for democracy in our economy as well as our institutions (no-one believed in democracy more passionately than Tony Benn) still ring in my ears as I write this. It was a tour de force, even by his standards and no-one who was there will ever forget it.

Many of the words, concepts, imagery he used that night I still use in my own speeches today. Earlier he had posed in my home for pictures with my then baby daughter Lucy, today a mother of four, as he later would with her babies. His kindliness as well as his courage, intelligence, eloquence marking him out as head and shoulders above all of the political class then as now. If you can imagine the kindly old gentleman who sat at the back of the carriage in The Railway Children waving his handkerchief at the children and who came to their aid in their tragedy; that was the kind of man Tony Benn was.

Just before he launched his campaign for the Labour Party’s Deputy Leadership in 1981 Benn called my house. “Thish ish Tony Benn” he told my astonished then wife who thought it was a friend of ours playing a prank. “Oh yeah, right” she said.

He asked me if I would support his campaign. I was a full-time Labour organiser and the Chairman of the Labour Party in Scotland at the time and he knew it might put my job at risk. He promised to look after me should the worst happen and a job at his side if he won.

Without hesitation I supported him and threw myself into the campaign as the Scottish organiser. It proved a bitter and divisive battle, crystalising exisiting divisions within the movement and, when Neil Kinnock and a group of left wing apostates who included Robin Cook backed a “soft-left” rival John Silkin to split the Benn vote created new divisions some of which never healed.

The Labour Party had never seen a mass exercise within its ranks quite like it; and has since taken steps to ensure it never will do again. Thanks to democratic reforms within the party pioneered by Benn himself the choice would be made, not merely by MPs but by the rank and file of the party and the unions then affiliated, enthusiastically, in their millions. Benn chased every vote. Though supposedly handling Scotland I traveled with Benn the length and breadth of the country. If you’d believed the media Benn was then, literally, mad bad and dangerous to know. If you believed the evidence of your own eyes, he was the most exciting and inspiring leader in the land.

I remember one occasion in particular in a motor-way service station near Liverpool. We stopped for tea and toast (Benn rarely actually ate real food), Tony, me and Hugh Wyper the then legendary Scottish union leader and Hugh’s wife. First virtually every person in the station came over to greet him. Then, wearing their aprons and chef’s hats all the kitchen staff did the same (alas there were no camera phones then so each person had to get a time-consuming autograph) then people started coming in from the petrol-station forecourt leaving their vehicles unattended then Tony gave an impromptu speech. It felt like a popular revolution. And maybe it could have been.

At the height of his campaign when he seemed to be about to carry all before him, Benn was struck down by an obscure illness The Guillain – Barre Syndrome which attacked his nervous system, confined him to bed, and left him shaky on his legs for the rest of his life. It seemed suspicious at the time, and it still does now. Especially after what happened to Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and other left wing leaders in Latin America.

For that to sound less fanciful one must recap on what Benn might possibly have done. He might have won the deputy leadership of a Labour Party then regarded as a natural party of government. And quickly thereafter, its leader. He would have pulled Britain out of NATO and from the EEC. He would have scrapped Britain’s vastly expensive, unaffordable and essentially useless nuclear He promised public ownership and workers control of the commanding heights of the British economy. He would have nationalised the banks and many other industries including pharmaceuticals. He would have mounted a profound challenge to the rich and powerful in Britain and beyond, AND he had mass popular support in doing so.

The media hysteria had to be experienced to be believed. Think Scargill, Livingstone, Crow, add it all together and double it. It was that bad. Whole pages in serious newspapers were given over to cod-psychologists making the case that Tony Benn was, literally, insane.

But Benn-mania was taking on Beatles levels in the ranks of Labour. With the whole Labour establishment against him, as well as the whole of the British ruling class and its media echo-chamber, Benn was winning. As we gathered on the eve of the fateful Labour Conference in the Brighton conference centre the buzz was simply electrifying. When the result came and the right-wing candidate Dennis Healy was announced the winner by the hair of an eyebrow – well less than 1% – a result achieved only by the votes of a raft of Labour MPs, traitors who promptly defected to the now-forgotten SDP – the rest of us lost our heads. But Tony kept his, taking his brilliant and beautiful America wife Caroline by the hand and walking to the nearest fish and chip shop on the Brighton sea-front for a rare slap-up.

Kinnock picked up his 30 pieces of silver later and is now an establishment clown (along with his wife) in the House of Lords. The remnants of the SDP (which helped keep Thatcher in power for a decade), now serve in David Cameron’s Tory government.

Benn lost his Bristol seat due to boundary changes in 1983, was re-elected in Chesterfield with the support of the Derbyshire Miners (he was among other things the most whole-hearted of the Miners supporters) before “giving up parliament, to spend more time on politics” and continued to the end to support the socialist alternative to barbarism and war. He died and will forever live as the Honorary President of the Stop the War Coalition, leading the greatest mass movement in British history. He was the greatest leader Labour, and Great Britain, never had.

In Shakespeare’s words “He was a man, take him for all in all; I shall not look upon his likes again”

George Galloway MP
House of Commons
London
14th March 2014

“Wag the Dog” – The Sequel Set in Syria

Over the last couple of weeks a western-backed (and armed) military junta slaughtered many hundreds of Egyptians in broad daylight live on television. The death toll, still concealed, may have been thousands.

The west confined itself to disapproving words and calls for “restraint” on “both sides” – even though the victims were unarmed.

In Syria hundreds of people have just been slaughtered in circumstances which are entirely unclear, and the west is about to launch (in our case without parliamentary approval with the prime minister acting from a beach in Cornwall) a military attack with entirely unforseen consequences on Damascus.

There is a “Wag the Dog” element about this, and indeed the war of President Clinton’s penis satirised in that masterful award-winning movie has already proved a handy diversion from Egypt before its even started.

It is entirely implausible that the Syrian regime chose the moment of the arrival of a UN chemical weapons inspection team to launch a chemical attack on an insurgency already suffering reverse after reverse on the battlefield and steadily losing international support with each new video showing them eating the hearts of slain soldiery and sawing of the heads of Christian priests with bread knives.

In the absence of conclusive evidence one would have to believe that the Assad regime was mad as well as bad to have launched such a chemical attack at a time when it is in less danger than it has been for almost a year. I do not believe that Bashar is mad.

There is ample evidence that the Syrian rag-tag-and-bobtail insurgency, dominated by the most extreme fanatic franchises of Al Qaeda, has access to chemical weapons, indeed any weapons the rag-tag-and-bobtail coalition behind them can get to them.

The US has a long history of using such weapons – and worse – and not just in SE Asia. In the destruction of Fallujah in next door Iraq they slaughtered thousands with the same kind of cocktails.

Israel regularly shares its own chemical weapons stockpile with their neighbours in Gaza. Check the pictures of phosphorous gas raining down upon the UN schools and hospitals in Operation Cast Lead if you don’t believe me.

Britain introduced chemical weapons to the middle east in the first place, dropping gas on the “uncivilised tribes” of Iraq in the 1920s and wondering in parliament “what all the fuss was about”.

Does anyone believe that the foul dictatorships of the Gulf – like Saudi Arabia – wouldn’t give the Syrian rebels some of their chemical weapons? Especially if the purpose was to draw the big powers into the war?

Does anyone believe that a Syrian rebel army whose vile atrocities abound on YouTube wouldn’t use them, for the same purpose?

So now we wait for the summer-surprise attack on yet another Arab country by the former colonial powers. Another summer, another Muslim country under murderous bombardment by the last people on the planet whose motives are trusted by anyone in the Muslim world.

Meanwhile, the money, and the weapons, keep on flowing to the Egyptian junta. The blood of some people, as always, turning out to be of far greater consequence than the blood of others…

George Galloway MP
House of Commons
London.

Design by Gayatri

Mass Murder in Gaza: Déjà Vu

As the death toll mounts and the pile of lifeless children grows higher the same old suspects loom into view.

The Bush and Blair Corporation formerly known as the BBC plumbs new depths though. Three Israelis are “killed” whilst twenty times that number of Palestinians have “died” with the former of course deserving first billing in the story. I knew that Palestinian blood was cheap, just not quite that cheap.

Sky News (my phone IS on guys?) play follow the leader, Rupert Murdoch, dementedly tweeting his slavering support for Israel’s murderous attack.

Little Willie Hague the bon vivant Foreign Secretary takes to the floor of the House (as opposed to Geoffrey Archer’s) to dispatch verbal gunboats bearing “Great” Britain’s peremptory demands; foremost of which is that the victims of the mass murder must stop their aggressive behaviour. Even Gilbert&Sullivan couldn’t make it up.

The moral vacuum that is President Barak Obama says the same. That’s Obama who “couldn’t look at Netanyahu’s face” (as he conveyed to Sarkozy and millions more via an unguarded microphone) whose presidency the Israel lobby tried so hard to destroy. Obama who has no more need of any lobby, need raise no more campaign billions, who knows the truth but continues to tell the lies. Of them all it is of him for whom I feel most ashamed.

Then there’s the middle east “peace envoy” ( now THAT’s going well, huh?) the war criminal Tony Blair. Not since Caligula appointed his horse a pro-consul of Rome has there been a more grotesque appointment than that of Mr Blair as a middle-east “peace envoy”. Dripping in blood (pockets stuffed with blood money) from head to foot having climbed to his pinnacle over a mountain of dead middle-easterners. Blair too is very clear about it; its Hamas what is to blame!

As I once told a Sky News interviewer during an earlier part of the war six years ago (Anna…my phone IS on?) this crisis didn’t start when Sky news turned up…

Israel is murdering Palestinian women and children because there is Palestinian resistance in Gaza.

There is Palestinian resistance in Gaza because the 1.5 million people, mainly refugees, who live in Gaza have been under siege for more than five years, totally blockaded in what David Cameron called a “huge prison camp”, to punish the people there for how they voted in a free election. For Hamas.

The people are refugees because their country, Palestine, has been wiped off the map. Thirteen million Palestinians now live under siege, or illegal occupation, in illegally annexed territory, as third class “citizens” in what they call Israel, or in their millions as refugees and exiles outside of their country. The vast majority have no passports, papers, status, rights, or hope. What they do have are the titles to the houses and lands from which their families were driven by “Israelis. And they have their eternal legal and moral right to return to their homes.

The Palestinians could have resigned themselves to the destruction of their society by “superior” western, European, settlers more than sixty years ago. They could have quietly entered the museum of “Ex” nations. We could today be visiting that museum, viewing their garments in the glass cases, lamenting their lost culture.

But they refused to go quietly into that good night. They still exist because they resist. They will not be quiet. They will not surrender. Even if abandoned by the rotten rancid corrupt cowards who rule virtually every Arab regime. Even if abandoned by the so-called “Jihadists” who are too busy murdering other Arabs and Muslims to notice the Palestinian blood and tears running in rivers right by them. Even if every last western journalist, feasting upon their suffering turns their face away. As long as 100 Palestinians remain alive they will never surrender their rights.

Friends of “Israel”; know this. As long as there is no justice there will be no peace. As long as there is no peace in the middle-east there will be no peace in the world. You have been warned.

[George Galloway MP]

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The Coming Battle for Croydon North

On this day in 1983 the Reverend Jesse Jackson embarked on his first attempt to win the presidency of the United States of America. Before then, it was an impossible dream. Twenty years before, black people in America had to sit at the back of the bus, piss in a separate pot – indeed a separate washroom – eat at a different lunch counter, go to a separate school, almost never go to university.

Black people in America scarcely ever voted, found it hard to get registered to vote. Outright racists, segregationists, like Governor George Wallace were pillars of the Democratic Party. Places like Mississippi were still burning with Ku Klux Klan fiery crosses, strange fruit – lynched black men – still twisted and turned whilst hanging from southern trees.

The Reverend Jackson’s electrifying run for president that year began to change all that for good. His three million votes in that campaign and his six million votes in 1988 directly paved the way to the presidency of Barak Obama. After Jesse Jackson – who would have made a better president than Obama – there was no turning back, for African-Americans, for the Democrats, for the United States of America.

Thus his endorsement this very day of Lee Jasper our Respect candidate for the forthcoming Croydon West by-election in South-West London is worth his weight in gold for us. That Jesse Jackson is following our democratic rising against the politics of austerity, neo-liberal economics, imperialism, occupation and war is a compliment in itself. That he rates our candidate Lee Jasper so highly is not only a vindication of our choice but might be worth serious numbers of votes too.

We have been attacked, as always, this time for “targeting” black voters (24% of the total electorate), making a change from the usual charge that we are “targeting” Muslim voters – there are 10,000 of those in the constituency. Except we are being attacked for “targeting” those voters too.

Of course the only sense in which we are “targeting” either is that we are asking them to vote for us.

Sinister, huh?

Every party “targets” the voters they think most likely to respond to their policies, don’t they?

So what are our policies, and why would black (Christian, Hindu, Sikh) and Muslim voters be most likely to respond to what we stand for?

Well, Respect is the anti-racist party in Britain. New Labour (renamed by the criminal Tony Blair) the right-wing Conservatives and their peculiar bed-fellows the Liberal-Democrats have all played the racist card in recent years, issuing forth their “dog-whistle” pitch in an attempt to attract the “Little Englander”, “hunt the immigrant”,” scapegoat the Muslim” section of the electorate and ahem, curry favour with the rabid yellow press which whips such sentiments up.

Respect is the anti-war party in Britain. It emerged out of the great movement against the Afghan and Iraq wars, when millions marched against these catastrophes and were betrayed by their parliamentarians. Respect opposes all British imperial wars. New Labour, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats continue to support what they have now re-named the “mission” in Afghanistan, even though the public in overwhelming number oppose it. Britain has neither the blood or the treasure to waste on the plains of Afghanistan where so many other occupation armies have bled and suffered only later, too much later, been forced to withdraw in ignominy.

Respect is the anti-austerity party in Britain. We reject the idea that the working people and the poor, the unemployed, the pensioners, the young people, should pay the price of capitalist failure and bankers’ greed. All the other parties support the savage cuts in public spending and the services the money funds. We say, reverse these cuts; the working people have already paid. Many are suffering from the freezing blasts of austerity. Black and minority ethnic communities are suffering the most.

My victory in the Bradford West by-election six months ago – the biggest swing in British post-war history – when Respect won a landslide victory with a majority in the “safe” Labour seat of over ten thousand votes showed that nowhere is “safe” any more for the parties of austerity and war. That a politics of democratic insurgency has been born, and that Britain is not immune from the radicalisation sweeping mainland Europe, Latin America, the Arab world and beyond.

The attacks upon us – and the campaign hasn’t even officially started – are a clear sign that the lamestream political class and their mouthpieces in the media are running scared. As well they might be. When all they have to offer is more blood, more pain, more poverty, why shouldn’t they be scared that the people, if offered a better way, might just choose it.

[George Galloway MP]

If you can help Respect’s Croydon campaign, with financial donations or in any other way, please contact us at www.respectparty.org

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In Memoriam Comandante Che Guevara

In Memoriam
Comandante Che Guevara Lynch
Born June 14th 1928
Murdered 8th October 1967
45 Years Remembered

Che Guevara was one of the men of the 20th century. Born in Argentina (with the blood of Irish rebels flowing through his veins as his father said) he played a leading role with Comandante Raul Castro and Comandante Camillo Cienfuegos under the leadership of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro in the liberation of Cuba from fascistic dictatorship.

He helped build the socialist foundations of Cuba as Minister for the Economy and Governor of the Bank of Cuba.

He participated in the military defence of Vietnam against US imperialism and fought by the side of the greatest of all African leaders Patrice Lumumba (later assassinated by the imperialists) in the Congo.

Che Guevara led an uprising of the Bolivian revolution against dictatorship and in October 1967 he was captured by the forces of reaction and, after consultation with Washington, murdered by the agent Mario Teran on the orders of the CIA.

Sensing his assassin’s cowardice Che told him “What are you waiting for?” – “Kill me now, I am only a man”.

Seldom can the word “only” have been less appropriate.

Mario Teran and all of the servants of the CIA who participated in the murder of Che Guevara met with revolutionary justice; each and every one of them being consigned to early and violent deaths.

The blood of Guevara watered the earth of Bolivia which fructified in the victory of the Bolivian revolution under the leadership of Evo Morales.

Che Guevara never died in truth, his face his spirit and his sacrifice are to be found throughout the world wherever the flags of freedom fly.

Hasta Siempre Comandante. Hasta la Victoria Siempre.

Comandante Che Guevara: Presente!

George Galloway MP
Revolutionary Venezuela
October 8th 2012

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