michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Wed May 7 02:38:02 MDT 2003
How many staunch Old Labourites must be queasy at the idea of an anti-war
Labour MP "bringing the party into disrepute" for opposing the policies of a
warmongering Labour leader? They are in an ever-decreasing minority, if we
are to believe the idea that "grassroots" Labour MPs are the ones who led
the charge against Galloway. But now the problem of selecting the official
candidate for Glasgow Central has been removed, and it does not matter if
Galloway does eventually clear his name. Some of the damage will stick, but
even if he emerges spotless, he will no longer be an MP. That is the
assumption of the Labour Party bigwigs, who must now work even harder to
chip away at Galloway's credibility to deny him the chance of running as a
credible independent option. And how instructive to see, yet again, the name
of Peter Hain pop up. Galloway might have been naive to imagine that Hain,
the former poster-boy of the anti-apartheid movement, would have stood by
him, but it is nevertheless revealing of just how far Hain has gone
Labour cuts Galloway adrift
CATHERINE MacLEOD and VICKY COLLINS
The Herald, 7 May 2003
Labour dispatched George Galloway into the political wilderness yesterday
while its hierarchy decides whether he has brought the party into disrepute.
David Triesman, the general secretary of the Labour party, wrote to the
Glasgow Kelvin MP to tell him he was immediately suspended "pending the
outcome of internal party investigations".
The widely expected move came after party chiefs received a series of
complaints about remarks Mr Galloway made in an interview to an Arab
television station, in which he described Tony Blair, the prime minister,
and George Bush, the US president, as "wolves" who had attacked Iraq.
The suspension was imposed as it was confirmed that the parliamentary
standards commissioner is to begin inquiries into allegations made by the
Daily Telegraph that Mr Galloway received money from Saddam Hussein's
regime. The Charity Commission is also looking into the allegations, which
Mr Galloway denies and has said he will contest in a libel action against
Mr Galloway last night called the suspension "completely unjust" and said he
had been "silenced and politically destroyed" for speaking out against the
war. His constituency party is standing by him.
The interview that led to his suspension was broadcast on Abu Dhabi TV on
March 28 as British and US troops were fighting in Iraq. In it Mr Galloway
said: "Iraq is fighting for all the Arabs. Where are the Arab armies? We
wonder when the Arab leaders will wake up. When are they going to stand by
the Iraqi people?"
Of Mr Bush and Mr Blair he said: "They attacked Iraq like wolves. They
Mr Galloway also urged British soldiers to refuse to obey "illegal orders".
It is alleged that his remarks brought "the Labour party into disrepute by
behaviour that is prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the party".
There were complaints about similar remarks Mr Galloway made in an interview
to the ITV News channel on April 1.
Mr Galloway is now suspended from holding office as an MP or representing
the party in any way. The suspension will remain in place until Chris
Lennie, the Labour party's deputy general secretary, reports to the national
constitution committee (NCC), who will eventually decided if there is a case
Labour sources revealed last night that the formal NCC hearing might take a
"longer rather than shorter" time, which could inflame an already tricky
situation in Scotland.
Under the boundary review Mr Galloway's Glasgow Kelvin constituency will
disappear to become part of the newly-drawn Glasgow Central. As a sitting MP
Mr Galloway should automatically be considered for the new seat but
suspension will eliminate him from the selection process.
He learned of his suspension in a letter from Mr Triesman yesterday
afternoon. Mr Galloway immediately condemned the decision, claiming that Mr
Blair wanted "free speech in Baghdad but not in Britain".
He described the decision as "completely unjust" and "prejudicial" to his
libel action against the Daily Telegraph and Christian Science Monitor.
He added: "The suspension from the Labour party after 35 years of membership
is particularly hard to bear. It is tantamount to political exile."
Mr Galloway also said he stood by "every word" of his interview with Abu
He told Channel 4 News: "I don't believe that the Labour party is Tony
Blair's personal fiefdom. I was in it long before he was and I suspect I
love it rather more than he does. It's really come to something when you are
being witch-hunted because of words that you spoke, because of ideas that
"I am not asking people to support my views, but do we really want a
parliament of yes men? A parliament of pagers, where people are told what to
say and told what to do? Isn't that the kind of parliament they used to have
"I didn't call on British soldiers to disobey orders but to disobey illegal
orders. That's actually a legal obligation on all armies and all governments
since Nuremberg. I didn't call on anyone to rise up and kill British
soldiers. They (the Labour party) know exactly what I said and I stand by
every word that I said."
Mark Craig, the Glasgow Kelvin constituency party chairman, said they stood
by Mr Galloway. He said: "There were serious allegations made about George
in the Telegraph. Those had to be investigated.
"I don't believe it's right to suspend him, though. Very many of George's
remarks are controversial (but) he's not been suspended in the past."
Labour MPs will officially consider Mr Galloway's position in the
parliamentary party next week and are likely to demand the withdrawal of the
parliamentary whip. Labour's parliamentary committee will consider Mr
Galloway's position today before making a recommendation to the PLP.
Tam Dalyell, whose own position will be considered by the Labour party "in
due course" for making allegedly anti-Semitic remarks, said the Labour party
should have waited until the outcome of "Galloway v Telegraph Newspapers and
Galloway v the Christian Science Monitor" before they chose to suspend Mr
Grass-roots Labour MPs have demanded that the party leadership deal with Mr
Galloway. While Mr Blair believes he is not worth bothering about, the
majority of Labour MPs insist he brings the party into disrepute and has
been allowed to do so for too long. Even former supporters insist that "this
time he has gone too far".
In another blow for Mr Galloway, Peter Hain, the former foreign office
minister, has denied asking him to act as a go-between with Saddam.
Mr Galloway suggested in an interview with the Sunday Herald two weeks ago
that he had told Mr Hain privately that he could "open a channel of dialogue
as a means of resolving the Iraq crisis" after a Christmas visit to Iraq in
He told the paper that "Hain agreed that we should start such a dialogue"
but then went on to brief against him.
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