Coffee House

Behind Galloway’s grin

30 March 2012

George Galloway has tragically demonstrated that sectarian politics are
now alive and well in Britain.  The other week Ken Livingstone appeared at a London mosque and promised to make London a "">‘beacon of Islam’ and last week went on to dismiss Jews as
unlikely to vote Labour because they are
‘rich’. Now we see Galloway
flying in to one of the country’s most divided areas to sweep the Labour party aside in what he has termed ‘a Bradford spring.’

Much can — and should — be said about this depressing, and predictable, turn of events.  But for now I’d just like to make two quick observations.

The first regards the ‘Bradford spring’ phrase.  This cannot be allowed to go uncommented upon. Of course Galloway is the type of politician — like Livingstone — who
can get away with anything. But even for him that phrase gives chutzpah a bad name.


Whatever the final results across the Middle East and North Africa, during the ‘Arab Spring’ the peoples of the region have risen up in popular moments to overthrow the dictators who
have held power over them. The snag is that Galloway has invariably been on the side of the dictators rather than the people who are trying to overthrow them.

In Iraq he famously told Saddam Hussein, ‘Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.’ Saddam Hussein
killed more Muslims than any other leader in modern times.

In 2005 he turned up in Damascus to praise the insurgency in Iraq, met Bashar al-Assad and told the Syrian people afterwards, ‘I
was very, very impressed. … Syria is lucky to have Bashar al-Assad as her President.’ The citizens of Homs and other Syrian cities may well feel otherwise.

And, of course, in recent years he has turned to Saddam’s old enemies, the regime in Iran, having worked for Press TV, the propaganda arm of the Iranian government which was recently stripped
of its broadcasting license by Ofcom. Galloway was content with working for this propaganda outfit whilst it was gunning down the Iranian people on Iranian streets in the aftermath of the
‘Green Revolution’.  Shortly afterwards, when Galloway performed a fawning interview with the dictator of Iran himself,
Galloway started by telling the grinning ‘President’ Ahmadinejad, ‘I have police protection in London from the Iranian opposition because of my support for your election campaign.
I mention this so you know where I’m coming from.’ Indeed.

All other aspects of the comparison aside, had any kind of ‘Spring’ come to Bradford it would have heralded the popular overthrow of George Galloway, not his election.

Which brings me to my second point. Galloway is right about one thing —this is certainly what happens when the mainstream parties take their voters for granted. Over recent days Westminster
politics has been dominated by a discussion about pasties and a wholly fake personality competition about which party leader had eaten one most recently. Every time Westminster politicians try to
appear closer to the people they end up seeming more remote. To that extent Galloway has done everybody a favour. He has reminded us that beyond the increasingly silly and similar Westminster
politics there are murmurs going on in this country which the mainstream parties would be very foolish indeed to continue to ignore.

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  • Nick Hart

    Oh dear. Another case of “the wrong sort of democracy”?

  • TomTom

    Respect will field a candidate in each ward on May 3rd. At last a chance to rid ourselves of the Corrupt Party Machine and try something new

  • Will D

    I am shocked that there is so much support here for galloway! Murray has written here a perfect article explaining Galloway’s opportunistic and bizarre ideology. The prime example of where the left lost their way…they used to fight against fascism and oppression. What happened?

  • David Lindsay

    The last people who put him in were the postal vote-wielding Pakistani patriarchs. They wanted the Labour candidate. It is exactly they who have been defeated. Why isn’t Peter From Maidstone pleased?

  • Halcyondaze

    The only thing Galloway’s victory shows us is that Muslims now have enough numbers in our cities for the political aspects of cultural displacement to seriously begin. Galloway is just a dhimmi tool – literally!

    Just as Tower Hamlets now has it’s very own dodgy Muslim mayor, so to will other cities, as Muslims infiltrate all our institutions knowing that we are too scared and cowed to raise any objection or stand up for ourselves.

    And so the pace of transformation in this country will begin to step up, until within one or two generations the country I knew as a child will be gone forever and the indigenous population will be the minority. Let’s see then how women and gays like that bit of “equality and diversity”.

    The Lib / Lab / Con caused this and they will do absolutely nothing to stop it. And anyone who votes for them is lending their muscle to the nailing down of the coffin door of our once-proud country. Shame on them all.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    On further thought, I reckon the voters of Bradford West have their opinions better represented in parliament than I do, with my useless apparatchik so-called tory MP.

  • TomTom

    “The Islamic republic of west bradford next surely not. Why the surprise.”

    Why not indeed, with 53% population there being WHITE and the 40% Muslims being largely <18 years so NON-VOTERS, it is probably the only way to escape from stupid people making silly comments about Islamic republics.

  • daniel maris

    Charles Hercock –

    So you’re telling us Respect are going to start winning by elections in constituencies without sizeable Muslim populations?

    Yeah, of course they are…

    And don’t play the race card. People are sick of that. We are talking about an ideology to be found among people of all races including European. And wherever it is found, similar traits are found.

  • daniel maris

    Maddy1 –

    Sadly, and this is what people often don’t understand, there is already such a thing, people living by different laws, administered by different courts that have nothing to do with our traditional courts.

    And who knew anything about this “clan” system of authority before this election.

    It’s not just a matter of people behaving differently, it is that there is already substantial Sharia rule in many parts of the UK and parliament does nothing to stop this – indeed it has facilitated it through the misguided legislation giving recognition given to Beth Din courts but also Sharia and other religious courts.

  • john gerard

    This is nothing to do with Islam – nothing to see here, move along, now, move along. That’s the message I’m reading everywhere. Galloway is the stepping stone away from mainstream politics that the muslim voters of Bradford have taken. Come the time, they’ll elect someone even further away. It WILL happen. It’s got nothing to do with Galloway’s ‘charisma’, or any of that rubbish. The political establishment haven’t got a clue what happened in bradford. They genuinely believe it’s got something to do with them, and that if they fix the problems they think they have, that, somehow, they’ll win next time. Unless they become the Salafist Party of Britain, forget it. Let’s see how the vote breaks down; low non-muslim turnout, high muslim turnout, I bet…

  • daniel maris

    Tom Tom ,

    We’re not stupid. We realise Respect was put together as a left-Islamic coalition and so its vote would never have been exclusively Islamic in source. But the idea that lots of practising Hindus would have voted for it is pure fantasy on your or the writer’s part.

  • daniel maris

    The importance of this result is that it is a harbinger of things to come.

    We see a race between modernity and demography. If the modernising pressures of being a Muslim in the UK are weak, then we are creating space for a new type of politics.

    It is not, most definitely not alarmism, to consider that in 20 years time we might see the rise of an Islamic party; what it might be called – who knows – it could be Respect, it could be the Islamic Democratic Party, it could be something anodyne like Traditional Values and Progress. But there may be a party that Muslim clerics and Mosque committees back.

    Again, as this result and the election of the Mayor in Tower Hamlets shows, it is not impossible that with differential voting rates among different communities, such a party could take 20 or 30 seats.

    And, as we have seen with the Lib Dems, that can be enough to gain rights of coalition and policy consultation.

    Such a party would be pushing its own agenda: pro Sharia, anti free speech, pro mass immigration, anti Israel, against an effective defence deterrent, pro Arab, pro Iranian and pro Pakistan, indifferent to the fate of democracy and freedom abroad.

    The arrival of such a party on the political scene would be devastating. It would not be a flash in the pan. It would become a permanent part of the scene.

    The effect of its influence can be imagined. I think we would see millions of non-Muslims abandon the country, making for Spain (where there is already a kind of English colony), India (Hindus especially), Australia, Canada and other countries.

  • Reb

    Although i can’t stand the man and I have grave misgivings about what he represents, I see this win as positive. What is democracy but having a good old ding-dong between representatives of people with very different ideas and desires? Hopefully this will herald other votes for other fringe parties and inject a bit of genuine fight back into the complacent and undemocratic middle ground. Maybe now we can actually talk about and be asked our opinion on what we want for our country and future rather than having it imposed on us. I hope his party wins more seats, I hope all the other little parties do too and Labour, cons and Dribberals

  • charles hercock

    For all the racial jibes here the real message is the inadequacy of Miliband.

    Bradford would rather have voted for a frog.

    And indeed they did.

  • Maddy1

    The Islamic republic of west bradford next surely not. Why the surprise.

  • TomTom

    Roger Lord – Excellent Comment !

  • Kevin

    “Whatever the final results across the Middle East and North Africa…”.

    An update from the press on the current “state of play” there would be welcome. At present, it seems that RT is the only Freeview channel reporting on the continuing violence in Libya.

    Galloway’s Spring analogy is presumably a reference to Labour’s 38 years in power in the constituency. For a non-Labour voter, it is hard not to see that as a dictatorship. Perhaps the press could also look into whether any of the local leaders enjoyed the high life while the people suffered, as was remarked about Gaddafi’s family.

  • daniel maris

    Well done Douglas Murray, for being the first commentator here to mention the I Word which one way or another is the key to understanding this result. And also, for pointing to Ken Livingstone’s vomit-inducing “call to prayer” – he’ll be climbing the Minaret next…

  • Fatbloke on tour


    Look at the 97 result.
    TB landslide and Labours majority is decimated.

    There is tribal voting in BW but it is usually the reactionary element of the working class vote that votes on the basis of colour.

  • Fatbloke on tour


    You may be correct that Gorgeous George can play it a bit fast and loose when it comes to consistency and moral authority but you are looking at the messenger not the message.

    Look at the history of the constituency and it’s results.

  • Roger Lord

    I think you have got this wrong. I was canvassing for UKIP in Manningham ward. I was met with courtesy and polite conversation. Having travelled in Pakistan I have the advantage and confidence to approach people. Talking to some angry streetwise Respect supporters, their real anger was directed towards corrupt Labour councillors. One pointed out a very large house, “ That is were our councillor lives; how come he lives in a house like that , when he is unemployed ? ” , I was also told that one councillor has just spent four and a half years in prison, now returned to a “safe” Labour seat. I was told of poor families paying for legal fees, having obtained visas and passports etc for years and years, then the same people selling them insurance, mortgages etc etc. They are trapped. That was where the real anger was; and because the whole area was totally stitched up by Labour they had nobody they could trust to tackle these problems.
    George Galloway is the frontman and symbol of some very decent people; surprisingly , I have spoken to some of his strongest backers, get past the religious and international political issues and you are left with the same basic issues that we all get angry about.
    The has been economic decline in Bradford, why? There is a housing shortage, but no shortage of buildings and lots of derelict sites; they believe that the planning system to totally corrupt.
    They believe that the people who are making the big decisions on local issues do not live in the area or have any long term financial interest, whereas with most families , everything they posses is invested in houses and businesses , they have no choice other then to make the best of what they have got, when they see other people ripping them off , they get angry; we all do.
    Thank God this has been a democratic and peaceful protest; do not underestimate the passion that exists for change, they are decent people with a strong entrepreneurial skills. Listen carefully and seriously and this is a positive move to shake the complacency of the political establishment.
    Having knocked on doors and talking to people there for a week, I can empathise.

  • Philip747

    If one googles “Galloway portillo dinner” there is a wonderful tv programme on youtube, also including the late Benazir Bhutto, filmed just before the start of the Iraq war. With the benefit of hindsight, Galloway was right, and Portillo and the neocons were wrong. Portillo claimed Afghanistan was a success, and invading Iraq would be. Accused of supporting dictators, Galloway pointed out the Americans supported many dictators. Galloway is probably at his most irritating when he is in the right

  • TomTom

    Read a comment from the Guardian blog:

    “George Galloway did not win just because of the Moslem vote. Galloway, and Respect, won every council ward covered by the constituency. His supporters included Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, West Indians, the white population and many pensioners like myself who are sick and tired of being kicked in the mouth by the coalition.”

  • Peter From Maidstone

    David Lindsay, you don’t seem to understand basic statistics.

    40% of the electorate in Bradford are Muslims (many of whom are not even British citizens of course).

    Only 50% of the electorate voted in this by-election.

    That doesn’t mean that the 50 is proportionate. It could very well be the case that 80% of the 40% of Muslims voted en bloc for Galloway, and only 15% of the 60% of non-Muslims voted for the main parties.

    Until we know how many Muslim postal votes were used, and Muslim proxy votes were exercised by Muslim men on behalf of their families, then the extent of the bloc vote will not be clear. But this is what happened.

  • MaxSceptic

    For the past 40 odd years this constituency has returned Labour with monotonous and tribal regularity.

    All that has changed is the nature of the tribe.

    And besides, who here really give a tinker’s cuss what happens in shitholes like ‘vibrant multicultural’ Bradford?

    I certainly don’t (so long as we eradicate the home-grown Islamist loonies).

  • Mike Barnes

    Erm plenty of white working class people voted for him too.

    He was the only one on the ballot paper opposed to the war in Afghanistan.

    I don’t particularly enjoy seeing 20 year old recruits being killed in a far off land, so I’d have voted for Galloway too.

    Why is it so hard for a political party to offer an anti-war alternative? There’s millions of us ready to sign up for it.

  • ollie

    “This was hardly a Labour loss at all.”

    Hehehehe, had to laugh out loud when I read this desperate complacency. Trying to convince yourself this was nothing less than a real hammer blow is tragic.

    Hodge Hill next, then Livingstone’s toast in London.

  • TomTom

    “Who is for a march on Bradford?”

    Do it Tulkinghorn, don’t talk….DO IT !!

  • CS

    ***Saddam, bulwark against Islamism. Assad, likewise, so much so that many Iraqi Christians fled to Syria; on the other side, the Christian population of Homs has been removed almost, if almost, completely.***

    A hilarious historical perspective from Lindsay. Supporting the West’s wonderful record of imposing dictators on other countries as bulwarks against abstract nouns.

  • Moriarty

    Galloway is (a) stupid and (b) in love with money. I remember an encounter from a few years ago when he went up against Hitchens. It was not pretty.

    Galloway is corrupt. Simple as that.

  • Martin Smith

    If Galloway’s triumph was so predictable how come no one outside the Galloway camp predicted it?

  • Jon Stack

    I suspect he attracted a large white working class vote, as these are the people abandoned by Labour. The Bradford spring argument does hold up to some extent, in that this vote was about turning over the ruling status quo. Douglas’ argument is too analytical: this is gut feel voting in action.

  • Verityred

    Lindsay, rehash, repackage, redrone. Go troll your delusion on one of the many other sites you haunt like a stumpy little phantom.

  • cc cc

    Remember 2005:
    “Grassroots members of George Galloway’s left-wing Respect party have condemned as “unacceptable” the decision of the party leadership to exclude lesbian and gay rights from their manifesto for the general election earlier this year.
    Respect MP George Galloway is now being asked to explain why his party dumped gay rights from its manifesto. Allegations abound that Respect’s right-wing Islamist backers demanded the axing of gay rights as a condition of their electoral support for the party.

    Lindsay German reported

    “Respect is in alliance with the right-wing, anti-gay Islamist group, the Muslim Association of Britain.
    “The MAB endorses the recreation of an Islamic Caliphate where Muslims would be subjected to Sharia law.

  • cc cc

    Keep the Galloway quotes coming

    “I’m an advocate of the great Dr. Johnson, the English man of letters who said that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel”

  • Azad Yousaf

    George won a Free and Fair election in front of many observers. I can see how the media and press are coming down hard on him as they have the capital and influence backed by the major parties whom have no choice due to the humiliation this defeat has caused them. Give him a break, you say Bradford is a divided community, I disagree, I believe Bradford is an integrated community a great example of how many people of different faiths/backgrounds are able to live in harmony.

  • Tyke

    Bradford is not East London. Right now a whole new audience has been awoken to what democracy could enable them to achieve – in terms of representation. I don’t even think Galloway realises the fuse he has lit. There will be lots of people in similar towns to Bradford watching this with great interest and seeing an alternative to labour who imported them and took them for granted. My hope is that this actually produces a positive reaction in the sense that main stream parties need to think differently. My fear is that the sectarian divide will accelerate. This week in politics could go down in history. I will go to my (Yorkshire) local now and experience the real mood. Maybe report back later. I am not a regular poster but read the regulars daily – will be interesting to see how this debate develops here too.

  • veritty

    Is it true he has said that schools in Bradford should be closed to girls from September?

  • Tulkinghorn

    ‘I was very, very impressed. … Syria is lucky to have Bashar al-Assad as her President’

    More quotes dug up like this will show the muck and brass brigade what they have got.

  • David Lindsay

    Faceless Bureaucrat, no chance. The Greens have now managed an MP. Respect has now managed one twice, even if they have both been the same man. But UKIP has never managed one. It now seems reasonable to assume that it never will, even before Neil Hamilton becomes Leader and ridicule into oblivion takes places.

    This was hardly a Labour loss at all. Galloway says that he wants a Labour Government, and he will vote with Ed Miliband’s Labour against the neo-Blairism of the Coalition. The Blairite remnant within the Labour Party is the real loser here: Labour has not lost a by-election to either Coalition party, but it has, insofar as it has, to Galloway and Respect.

  • Tulkinghorn

    Dear Lord. Are we going to let him get away with it?
    Who is for a march on Bradford?

  • John Ball

    Too much vituperation flowing on the Galloway subject. He is a figure of fun.

    Roth sums him up well “Suffers from shin kicking of leaders, over-the-toppism and pariah worship; glories in his ability to rub more people the wrong way faster than anyone else.”

    Sure got old Douglas going.

  • In2minds

    George Galloway…..what happened to petrol and pasties? I was enjoying that little lot!

  • Radford NG

    So:the Ba’athist Socialist Party has won a bi-election in Bradford.

  • Faceless Bureaucrat


    For ‘Labour’ read ‘Conservative and for ‘Respect’ read ‘UKIP.

    Wake-up and start being a Conservative, Dave – otherwise similar electoral upsets will surely come your way.


  • Austin Barry

    Halal pasties from now on, Insha’Allah.

  • David Lindsay

    He beat the baradari nominee by 10 thousand votes and took over half the votes cast in a constituency which is only 40 per cent Muslim. It was the other side that was and is sectarian and communalist, in any case not something on which anyone needs lectures from a neoconservative.

    Saddam, bulwark against Islamism. Assad, likewise, so much so that many Iraqi Christians fled to Syria; on the other side, the Christian population of Homs has been removed almost, if almost, completely.

    Ahmadinejad, entirely predictably re-elected, but to the utter astonishment of people who assumed their own North Tehran Trendiness to be culturally and politically normative, like our own Notting Hill set.

    Iran, a country with reserved parliamentary representation for (Christian) Armenians, for (Christian) Assyrians, for Zorastrians and for Jews. That’s right. Jews. Syria, a country with Christian-majority provinces and with Christian festivals as public holidays. Whereas Murray demands uncritical obeisance to a regional state which is seeking to denaturalise both its ancient indigenous Christians and its ultra-Orthodox Jews.

    The neocons supported the Islamist dismemberment of Yugoslavia. Galloway opposed it. The neocons support the Islamist dismemberment of Russia. Galloway opposes it. The neocons support the Islamist dismemberment of China. Galloway opposes it.

  • charles hercock

    Should we think it sad that mainstream commentators play up the sectarian aspects of what is charisma over boring sameness?
    If I had been in Bradford, seeing no chance for the tories I would have voted for the only candidate able to give Miliband a bloody nose.

  • Dennis Churchill

    There seems to be a misunderstanding of the inevitable results of multicultural identity politics by the people surprised by this result.

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