[Marxism] George Galloway Redux

mike pearn neprimerimye at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Jan 20 15:16:07 MST 2006

Jscotlive at aol.com wrote

RESPECT is a coalition responsible for attracting a
sizable share of the vote at the last election. It has
given a political voice to the antiwar movement, and
has brought into the political mainstream a large
segment of the hitherto disenfranchised British Muslim
community. To attempt to disparage or diminish that is
indicative of a lack of political awareness and/or
narrow sectarianism. 

As for Galloway's non-attendance at the House of
Commons, it is a big deal in that he's missed an
important debate regarding a proposed crossrail link
that will impact on his constituents. There is also
the matter of his surgeries, where he meets his
constituents face to face to listen to the issues that
matter to them. This is what he was elected to do,
what he gets paid for (and well too). 

Galloway, whether you like it or not, became the de
facto leader of the British antiwar movement. His
excellent work last year also helped galvanise the US
antiwar movement, which is precisely why his
appearance in this ridiculous reality TV show is such
a monumental fuck up on his part. It has undone all
the great work he's done and in the process
discredited both himself and the movement he


Much of the above is so far from presenting a truthful
picture of events as to beggar belief. So too might be
said of the previous post too. It is certainly true
that Galloways taking part in Celebrity Big Brother
with a varied group of people, to be polite, is a
stunt that would appear to have backfired on him and
Respect. But other than that there is little I would
agree with in either of the previous posts.

Most importantly what has not been mentioned is that
there are important council elections approaching in
may. In at least two London Boroughs it was widely
held that Respect would poll very well and win a
considerable number of seats. That said local councils
in highly centralised UK PLC have few operative powers
so even if Respect controlled the administration there
is very very little they could do of real consequence
for the electorate.

It is now thought that Galloways bizarre antics on CBB
will have the result of reducing Respects vote
greatly. It certainly seems unlikely that respect will
gain any further defecting councillors from the
Liberal Democrats or New Labour as has happened in the
recent past. although some such councillors have
swiftly defected back to Labour rather oddly.

It should be noted that this puts at risk what seems
to be Respects strategy of concentrating on inner city
areas with a heavy concentration of Asian voters from
Islamic backgrounds in the hope of breaking out of
such strongholds at a later date. Other than in these
areas Respect has of course polled no better than its
Socialist Alliance forerunner and in some places
considerably worse.

The suggestion that there is a British Muslim
Community that is disenfranchised cannot pass without
challenge. In the first place there is no single
british Muslim Community other than in the purely
abstract religious sense that all Muslims are
considered to belong to the Umma. It is a matter of
fact that Muslims in Britain belong to many different
national minorities who usually worship at different
Mosques and rarely if ever come together as a single
group. It is also false to say that they are
disenfranchised any more than any other section of the
population in that historically most Asians have voted
for the Labour Party. Admittedly this is now changing
with considerable numbers switching to the Liberal
Democrats and in a handful of seats to Respect.

What happens to Respect next given that the SWP, the
only body of consequence fully commited to that party,
would appear to be disillusioned with Galloway is open
to speculation. But the leadership of the SWP has
recently come under some pressure from within the
group to place more stress of party building and sales
of Socialist Worker. While I would hesitate to make
any hard predictions on the available evidence it is
certain that after the May elections Respect will be
mothballed until the next series of elections. as for
the SWP I deeply regret to say that the decline of the
last few years is almost certain to continue despite
predictable small increases in membership and paper
circulation as a result of decisions taken at the
recent conference of the group.


Mike Pearn

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