The mayor and the mullah
Writing in the Guardian on 4 August, Ken Livingstone, under the cover of discussing the London bombings, once again defended his links with the Islamist preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
Qaradawi, readers will recall, is a reactionary bigot (see Writing on the Wall this issue for further evidence).
According to Ken, the political division is between those who want to ban Qaradawi from the UK and those who favour treating him as an honoured guest, representative of all Muslims and progressive thinker (his own position). Nothing in between
Livingstone argues that Qaradawi’s defence of Palestinian suicide bombers should not lead to a ban: “if supporters of the Palestinians should be banned on the grounds that Palestinians kill civilians, then consistency would require banning Israeli leaders. Someone advocating that both Sharon and Qaradawi be banned would be wrong, but at least they would be consistent.”
Yes, and if Livingstone was inviting Sharon over for a quick public snog he’d also be “wrong but consistent”. But why does he condemn one bigot while promoting another who is even worse?
SWP hail Robin Cook
The Respect Coalition has hailed the late Robin Cook as “a powerful and principled advocate of peace” and described his death as “a bitter blow to the labour movement”. Even John Rees of the SWP (amusingly captioned as Lindsey German!) appeared on Channel 4 News to mourn the death of the Blairite MP.
So much for providing a radical left-wing alternative to new Labour. The Respect website notes that Cook was a cabinet minister in the Blair government, but glosses over this by lauding his “ethical foreign policy”. This about a Foreign Secretary who sold Hawk jets to Indonesia, helped the US bomb and blockade Iraq and continued with Britain’s love-in with the petrodollar ultra-Islamist autocrats of Saudi Arabia — when he wasn’t busy helping out with Blair’s various attacks on the working class at home.
On the other hand, he had more principles than George Galloway...
Respect’s unrequited love
The People’s Justice Party, formerly known as Justice for Kashmir, won two council seats in Birmingham’s Bordesley Green ward in a by-election on 28 July. They were instrumental in challenging the results of last May’s election in the ward, which were proven to have been tampered with by three Labour councillors.
Excited by the electoral success of anyone who opposes the Labour Party, Respect were quick to try and muscle in on the glory. According to the Respect website, they “look forward to further co-operation with the PJP in the future” — as if they had played any role whatsoever in the PJP’s July 28 victory. But why not make an alliance?
The PJP are anti-war and pro-Palestinian. They are also against gay rights and want girls and boys educated separately. Like Galloway, they are ex-Labour members appealing for Muslim votes on a communalist basis.
Sadly, however, the alliance was not to be. The PJP told the Birmingham Evening Mail that they “intend to work with the Conservative-Liberal coalition running the council”, while their leader and newly elected councillor Shaukat Ali Khan said he looked forward to working with Liberal Democrats against Labour’s “cheats” and “rogues”. If only Respect had councillors in Birmingham, they could be part of the PJP-Liberal-Tory popular front too!
Tories for Galloway
Writing in The Times last month, Tory MP Matthew Parris noted that in the aftermath of the London bombings, in his right-wing social circles, “alongside rampantly right-wing views on race, culture and immigration, you encounter — and among deeply conservative folk — a knee-jerk sympathy for the views of George Galloway. You will be very far from being thrown out of a Derbyshire pub for suggesting that ‘Tony Blair asked for this’.”
Parris quotes one right-wing old codger as saying: “We should never have got mixed up in this business. That George Galloway was right. Who is he, anyway? Do you know anything about him?”
At the G8 Alternatives summit in Edinburgh last month, Galloway told an audience that “people should leave their politics at the door and join Respect” - and it looks like he’s found a pool of people to take up that offer!