George Galloway was recently ″papped″ by journalist Natalia Antelava, appearing to hug alt-right pundit Steve Bannon.
The photo was taken after both had spoken on a panel at the Eurasian Media Forum in Kazakhstan. Accepting Bannon′s friendly overture was just a matter of good manners, said Galloway afterwards. But in the panel debate Galloway and Bannon′s political worlds did align. Both praised a ″populist turn″ against globalisation. For Galloway it is a matter of trenchant support for a hardline or no-deal Brexit, leading him to cosy up to the likes of Nigel Farage. If you feel like sitting through six hours of film footage, you can see the debate for yourself here.
Farage is a moderate compared to Bannon, but a raging lefty by comparison to Saddam Hussein, whom in 1994 Galloway praised to his face (and to TV cameras): “Sir... we salute your courage, your strength and your indefatigability… We are with you. Until victory! Until Jerusalem!”
Farage does not, after all, plan to murder national minorities, political opponents, or leaders of the labour movement. He has not fired rockets at Israel as Saddam did in 1991. And praising Saddam, too, was excused by Galloway as a matter of good diplomacy.
Galloway was never “far left”, despite Anteleva’s description. The trouble is that for a long time, much of the left was prepared to ignore Galloway′s ″pragmatism″ and the origins of his ″skills″ in his background as a Labour Party Stalinist “soft left”. The SWP and most of the kitsch left accepted him as a leader of the anti-war movement (he was ″a brilliant orator” etc.). He was the figurehead for Respect, which the SWP launched in 2004 to replace the Socialist Alliance. It was called Respect (George Galloway) on ballot papers. The SWP and Galloway fell out three years later.
The final straw, for much of the rest of the left — although not for everyone, Galloway still has 317,000 followers on Twitter — was when he suggested Julian Assange was accused of nothing more than “bad sexual etiquette”.
Solidarity and Workers′ Liberty have criticised Galloway′s lack of moral compass and how the left has ignored it, right back to 1994, when we called on his Labour Party to remove him as an MP.
“We told you so.”