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

Ed Miliband and Me

Secrets are sometimes necessary in politics. So is telling the truth but not the whole truth. What is never acceptable are lies. Especially from the leader of a party still in recovery from a predecessor who may have fatally wounded it by the tower of lies he built along the path which led to a million dead Iraqis and cascading extremism around the world.

Earlier this year the Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband asked me to come and see him in his suite of offices overlooking the River Thames in the Norman Shaw Building in parliament. In fact he asked me again and again. When my diary proved uncomfortably crowded his office tried even harder to make it happen. “Ed is very keen to meet George” says one e-mail.

It’s not that I was avoiding him, in fact I was intrigued as to what this meeting – with no specified agenda – might be about.

In any case I would never refuse to meet any parliamentary colleague, still less the leader of the opposition. Such meetings, often private, are the stuff of politics at Westminster.

And when the leader of the opposition asking for the meeting is the leader of the party I joined when I was 13 years old, served in at every level for 36 years and loved a lot more than the leader Tony Blair who kicked me out of it ever did, it’s obvious I would fit him in. I’ve known many Labour leaders after all.

Harold Wilson, who won four general elections for the party was a friend of mine. I used to visit him, after his retirement in his rather gloomy flat behind Westminster Cathedral where he would demonstrate his tremendous powers of recall on matters ancient and no recall at all on what he’d said just five minutes before.

James Callaghan frequently invited me to tea in the House of Lords. He like me had never been to university, had come into the party through the trades unions, and was a real Labour man.

I regularly dined with Michael Foot in the Soho eaterie The Gay Hussar, discussed the Second World War over tea and crumpets in the Members Cafeteria of the Commons, sat beside him on the green benches, and of course we were fellow travellers over Iraq. When I was facing expulsion from the Labour Party, Michael Foot gave evidence on my behalf ( he having previously been expelled from the party himself).

Neil Kinnock – though we would become bitter enemies – many times offered me a spare room in his then Ealing house when I first moved to London in 1983 and entertained me in his South Wales home.

John Smith was a close friend of mine for many years until his death.

Gordon Brown – for whom Miliband was once an office boy – previously sat under my chairmanship of the Scottish Labour Party; when I was 26 years old.

 

The meeting with the current leader, which has become something of a brouhaha came out of the blue and entirely on his initiative. It was a one-on-one with no staff present – which surprised me slightly – and Miliband was gracious in the extreme. Apologising profusely for keeping me waiting slightly he actually helped me off with my coat and personally hung it up by the door. He gave me the best seat in the room and sat with his back to the river.

“The proximate cause of my request to meet you was to discuss the boundaries, but I note that we see eye to eye on that anyway, so thanks for that”. Those were the first words spoken in the meeting by him. The subject was not raised again throughout the remaining fifty-nine and a half minutes of the meeting.

More than one week before, and crucially, before he asked me for the meeting, the Labour Chief Whip had sent an emissary – my own usual channel – to ask how I would be voting on the new boundary proposals.

I had told that emissary that although the Tory sponsored boundary changes suited me in Bradford personally very well – they put me up against the hapless Lib-Dem MP David Ward with Labour nowhere in sight – I would be voting with Labour because I knew the overall changes were designed to help the Tories win the next election, something a good deal more important than my own electoral fortunes. Helpfully, hours later, I sent the emissary an e-mail expanding on my reasons for voting Labour on this!

Thus, Ed Miliband knew before he met me, before he EVEN ASKED to meet me, how I was going to vote on the Boundary Changes.

This is where, for some, it gets a great deal less interesting.

Mr Miliband did not raise with me any possibility of my rejoining Labour. Nor did he discuss any potential co-operation between us on any other matter, then, or in the future.

Neither of course did I, except to say, as we have said since our foundation in 2004, that no Respect MP would ever vote to put the Tories in power. Ever. We consider ourselves a part of the labour movement, indeed as the ghost of Labour’s past, saying the things Labour used to say, standing up for the people Labour used to represent. All this I said in fact from the victor’s rostrum a little over a year ago when I turned a solid Labour majority into a landslide victory for Respect in the Bradford West by-election.

So what did we discuss? We discussed politics. Local – Bradford and East London – national – the Bedroom Tax, the proper response to the Tory Austerity savagery – and international – Palestine, Iraq, the USA. That’s what parliamentarians do. And that’s all Ed Miliband had to say when – months later – the news of the meeting was leaked, presumably deliberately by someone in New Labour, to the Mail on Sunday. It would have had the benefit of being the truth.

Instead he chose to lie. The proximate cause of his lie is presumably rooted in the weakness of his position inside the Labour Party. The intention of the leakers was to administer a further kick at the man they’d never accepted as leader. For them his brother, the prince across the water David, is the true and rightful heir to Blair and the fact that the normal rules of primogeniture were so flagrantly transgressed in his defeat just makes it all much harder to bear.

First Blair himself then a train of camp followers, Peter Mandelson and Lord John Reid in the van, had been putting the boot in to Ed Miliband for the direction he’d been travelling in. Within the shadow cabinet, a pack of (frankly chihuahua-like) attack puppies seem to be constantly biting at the leaders ankles. The proximate cause of that is that Labour’s lead in the polls is vanishingly small given the mass unpopularity of the disastrous Con-Dem coalition government. The Blairite solution is for Labour to be even more like the Con-Dems – except where it’s possible to outflank them on the right!

All that is more Miliband’s business, than mine. His weakness in the ongoing inner-party struggle may well have been a good reason for him not to pursue me for a meeting. It’s not a reason to lie about it once news of the meeting he set up, leaks out.

The Mail on Sunday called me at breakfast in my Bradford constituency on Saturday 20th April. I refused to comment and immediately communicated news of the call to Miliband. I did not want to see him damaged. He had impressed me in the meeting. I want to see David Cameron out. That means Miliband as PM. I hate the Blairites – what’s not to hate?

If Miliband had played with a straight bat I would have never commented at all.

Instead in an act of unprincipled cowardice he immediately – on and off the record- began to authorise abusive attacks on me and my views. Even then, in last Tuesday’s Evening Standard I tried to exculpate him from the charge – which is in fact untrue – that he had tried to attract me back into Labour.

The last straw though came out of his own mouth, under pressure from slimy Nicky Campbell on Radio 5 Live on Thursday morning when he became both personally insulting as well as politically foolish.

He said I was an “awful man” with “awful views” that he wanted to see me defeated at the next election (although Labour has conspicuously NOT placed Bradford West on its target list of winnable seats – little wonder, my majority is more than 10,000 and 56% of the vote in an eight party race).

But if I am “awful” why did he pursue me so earnestly for a private meeting? Why did he say at the end of it “we must do this again…. but perhaps not here” (in his Westminster office)?

If my views are “awful” why have I been elected to parliament six times whilst holding fast to them? Why have I TWICE defeated New Labour, from their left, in rock solid Labour seats; because of my views, or despite them?

And why did his father, Ralph Miliband, hold to virtually identical views all of his long and illustrious life?

Unfortunately perhaps for Ed Miliband, there are many people who share my views, and for whom none of the big parties are speaking, for or to. And who appear to command so little respect from today’s New Labour Party. That, I believe whether he knew it or not, was the real proximate cause of Mr Miliband’s desire to meet me. Because I speak for them. Clearly and without fear and I intend to go on doing so.

That is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help me God.

[George Galloway MP]

“Tramp the Dirt Down”

The old saw that one shouldn’t speak ill of the recently dead cannot possibly apply to controversial figures in public life. It certainly didn’t apply to President Hugo Chavez who predeceased Margaret Thatcher amidst a blizzard of abuse.

The main reason it must not preclude entering the lists amidst a wave of hagiographic sycophantic tosh of the kind that has engulfed Britain these last hours is that otherwise the hagiographers will have the field to themselves.

Every controversial divisive deadly thing that Thatcher did will be placed in soft focus, bathed in a rose-coloured light, and provide a first draft of history that will be, simply, wrong.

As is now well-known, I refused to do that today on the demise of a wicked woman who tore apart what remained good about my country, and set an agenda which has been followed, more or less, by all of her successors. I certainly wasn’t prepared to leave the obituaries to those who profited from her rule or those who have aped her ever since.

So here is my own memory of Thatcher and what she did in her time on this earth.

On one of my first political demonstrations – against the Conservative government of Edward Heath (1970-74) the slogan of the day was “Margaret Thatcher- Milk snatcher”. It was the first but not the last time I spat out her name in distaste.

Before Thatcher, every primary school pupil received 1/3 of a pint of milk every morning. For some it was the difference between breakfast and no breakfast. I was sometimes one of those. I grew up in a brief period of social democracy in Britain, being dosed by the state with free cod-liver oil, orange juice and malt to build up my strength. Having been born in a slum tenement into a one-room attic in an Irish immigrant area, I needed all of that and more. And like millions I got it, until Thatcher took it away.

She became the Conservative leader after Heath’s two electoral defeats in 1974 and his subsequent resignation.

She was a new type of Tory leader, entirely lacking in anything resembling “noblesse oblige”. She was nasty, brutish and short of the class previously thought obligatory in Britain amongst leaders of the ruling elite. She was vulgar, money-worshipping, and blasphemous. She believed the important part of the Biblical story of the “Good Samaritan” was not that he refused to pass by the suffering on the other side of the road but that he had “loadsamoney”.

In the infamous sermon on the Mound in Edinburgh addressing the Church of Scotland she opined that there was “no such thing as society”…”only individuals”

As the Labour leader Neil Kinnock, in one of his better efforts, retorted: “No such thing as society? Only individuals? No such thing as honouring other people’s parents? No such thing as cherishing other people’s children? No such thing as us and always? Just ME and NOW? ME and NOW?”

She was the living embodiment of Marx’s prediction that under capitalism “all that is solid will melt into air… all that is sacred will be profaned”

Upon her election as prime minister (with just 40% of the vote, her position ensured by the treacherous defection from the Labour cause of the rats now squirming on the Liberal-Democrat ship) she set about “transforming” Britain allright. She privatised Britain’s key industries, enriching her friends, and robbing the public of their birthright. When she took over “Financial Services” represented 3% of the British economy; when she left office it was 40%.

 

She destroyed the coal industry, the steel, car, bus and motor-cycle manufacturing, truck and bus-making, ship-building and print-industry, the railway workshops… she destroyed more than a third of Britain’s manufacturing capacity, significantly more than Hitler’s Luftwaffe ever achieved.

She did this not just because she prefered the spivs and gamblers in the city -they were her kind of people. But because above all, she hated trades unionism, and was determined to destroy it.

I was a leading member of the Scottish Labour Party at the time she came into office, and a full-time Labour organiser. Scotland was to become an industrial wasteland in the first years of her rule.

I was also, from 1973, a member of the then Transport and General Workers Union, one of her  key targets – especially our Docks section.

Importantly, for me, I was an honorary member of the National Union of Mineworkers too.

In all of these capacities I was a front-line short-sword fighter in the rearguard action against Thatcherism.

I fought her at Bathgate, at Linwood, when she was sacking the automotive industry. I fought her at Wapping – every Saturday night when she destroyed the Print workers on behalf of her friend, the organised crime firm owner, Rupert Murdoch. I fought every day of the Miners strike when she destroyed the Miners Union and the communities they represented. I fought her at Timex in Dundee at Massey Ferguson in Kilmarnock, and at the aluminium smelter in Invergordon.

I fought against her poll tax – imposed first in Scotland – as a refusenik of the most iniquitous tax in Britain since mediaeval times, the tax which ended in flames – literally – whilst I was on the platform at Trafalgar Square. And which finally produced her political demise.

And I toured – as a political activist – the desolation in Britain’s post-industrial distressed areas which she left behind. The City of London – deregulated by her – boomed whilst the coalfields and steel areas sank into penury. I saw the rusted factories the flooded mines the idle shipyards and the devilish results of millions of newly and enforced idle hands.

I faced her in parliament from 1987 as well, on these and other issues.

You see it wasn’t just Britain that Thatcher made bleed.

Her withdrawal of political status from Irish republican prisoners and her brutal, securocratic, militarisation of the situation in the north led to much additional suffering in Ireland.

State collusion in the murder of Catholics became endemic during her rule. And ten young men were starved to death for the restoration of political status, before our eyes in her dungeons. She finally died on the anniversary of their leader, Bobby Sands, being elected to parliament as he lay on his death-bed.

During the Falklands War, she sent hundreds of young Argentinian conscripts to a watery grave when she shot the Argentine warship the Belgrano in the back – as it was speeding away from the conflict. She mercilessly exploited the sacrifice of them, and our own soldiers sailors and airmen, to save her own political skin. A lot of brave men had to leave their guts on Goose Green to keep Thatcher in power.

She pushed her alter ego – the semi-imbecilic US president Ronald Reagan – into Cold War fanaticism and burgeoning expenditure on more and more terrifying weapons – many of them stationed on our soil.

She pushed his successor George Bush Sen into the first Iraq War.

I was there, I saw her lips move, when she described Nelson Mandela as a “common terrorist”.

She continued to recognise the genocidal and deposed Pol Pot regime in Cambodia – insisting that Pol Pot was the real and recognised leader of the Cambodians, even as they counted his victims in millions.

And she was the author of the policy of military, political, diplomatic and media support of the Afghan obscurantists who became the Taliban and Al Qaeda. She even produced them on the platform of the Tory Party conference, hailing them as “freedom-fighters”.

I was one of the last men standing in parliament opposing this immoral policy of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”.

On the eve of the triumph of these “freedom Fighters” I told Thatcher to her face; “You have opened the gates for the barbarians….and a long dark night will now descend upon the people of Afghanistan”. I never said a truer word.

I hated Margaret Thatcher for what seems like all my life. I hated her more than I hated anyone – until the mass murderer Tony Blair came along.

It would have been utter hypocrisy for me to have remained silent about her crimes today whilst the political class – including New Labour – poured honeyed words, lies actually, over her blood-spattered record.

I could not do it. I believe I spoke for millions. The wicked witch is dead. Tramp the dirt down.

George Galloway MP

House of Commons

London

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[COPY RIGHT RED MOLUCCA]

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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