Friday, 25 March 2011

How do you stop yourself laughing at George Galloway?

Watch him trying to be funny.

In today's Herald, Galloway was playing up his extraordinary abilities, pledging to single-handedly "shake up Holyrood".

He also claimed that the government's spending cuts are "entirely unnecessary", based as they are on "a deliberately exaggerated picture that’s drawn of the country’s financial state". Of course. Galloway is deluded if he genuinely believes that any politician enjoys making unpalatable cuts so much they're prepared to stake their entire political future making them for the love of it. Obviously Galloway doesn't quite appreciate current reality - for example the unexaggerated fact that next year alone the country will be paying back £50billion of interest, dwarfing the £3million he resents the government using to protect the citizens of Libya from Gaddafi's brutality.

And some call Ed Balls a deficit denier?

How anyone can consider Galloway to be a serious politician, let alone a heavyweight, is anyone's guess. According to The Herald, he is "selling himself as the Old Labour vote on a Labour ticket" and is supporting Iain Gray because "[he] can be pressured by the trade union movement. The SNP are not part of the Labour movement." Old tribalists die hard. So much for his professed political independence - or for that matter his supposed preference for strong politicians; his endorsement of Gray is also based on a perception that he's more likely than Salmond to give in to union pressure.

Galloway might masquerade as an independently-minded voice of the people but in truth he's little more than a bitter, resentful old Leftie; the kind that vainly believes the Labour Party has been stolen from them. This last assumption is disingenuous to say the least and doesn't stand up to scrutiny: "Old" Labour included such figures as Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins, Tony Crosland, Roy Hattersley, James Callaghan and Denis Healey - it was never a party dominated by intolerant and egomaniacal demagogues, however much he and Militant tried to convince us otherwise. The only "old" thing that Galloway represents is a way of thinking on social issues that belongs firmly in the 1930s.

Galloway's inability to work with others (as evidenced by the fact he's had more parties than Paris Hilton) hardly suggests he is the kind of person who can deliver a substantive cultural change at Holyrood. Nevertheless, George believes it so it must be true. His latest fan club, the Coalition Against Cuts (aka The Monster Raving Ego Party), states that it will put forward an intellectual case "with credibility" that spending cuts are unnecessary. It's also discovered in the last few days that it is "anti-war" and is opposed to the NATO-led action in Libya on account of the expense to the taxpayer. Strangely, he sees no contradiction in holding a position whereby he supports inaction on ever-increasing and unsustainable spending while maintaining that a humanitarian mission to prevent the massacre of countless Libyans is unethical.

The again, he has a soft spot for oppressive Middle Eastern dictators.

Quite why The Herald's Robbie Dinwoodie dedicates so much space to Galloway's views on the leaders of Labour and the SNP escapes me. Why does this man merit so much media attention, while Patrick Harvie (and even Annabel Goldie and Tavish Scott) struggle to gain the recognition they deserve?

Any Herald reader can see that what little he has of a political philosophy other than unadulterated populism has little basis in reality. Unfortunately, there is a strong chance that a combination of his populist agenda, public discontent towards the main parties, his obvious charisma and a disproportionate volume of media coverage could conspire to return him to Holyrood via the regional list. Personally, I'd prefer Glasgow to return a second Green MSP.

If Galloway were not so serious he would be hilarious. He's like a pantomime caricature. I found the Herald piece incredibly funny until Galloway made a rare attempt at humour, suggesting there should have been Scottish tanks on the Chancellor's lawn ahead of the budget. Comedy clearly isn't his forte. It wasn't remotely amusing, but it's a curious metaphor - the use of tanks doesn't sit comfortably with his confessed pacifism. He claimed that "if [Scottish politicians] were pushing for any particular course of action that would benefit Scotland, I never heard it." Presumably he didn't see various Scottish MPs of all parties pressing Scotland's case in parliament in recent weeks or the attempts of the First Minister and Finance Secretary to promote their own vision for Scotland's economy.

Anyone whose stated prime political mission is to "rumble up" Holyrood can not be taken seriously. Not only does his philosophy lack any credible basis, he increasingly looks like a man who represents nobody's cause but his own.

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