George Galloway is a British politician, and the RESPECT Member
of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow in East London. He was previously
a Member of Parliament for the Labour Party, representing the Glasgow constituencies
of Hillhead (1987-1997) and Kelvin (1997-2005), but he was expelled from
the Labour Party in October 2003 because of controversial statements he
made about the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Together with some other opponents of that war, in January
2004 he formed a new political party, RESPECT The Unity Coalition, and was
returned to Parliament as its candidate in the 2005 general election.
In May 2005, a US Senate report accused George Galloway of
receiving the right to buy oil under the UN's oil-for-food scheme. The report
cites further documents from the Iraqi oil ministry, and interviews with
Iraqi officials. No comment is made on whether the documents have been investigated
for evidence of forgery.
After e-mailing his political party, RESPECT and discussion
with them the possiblity of George Galloway giving us an interview, they
kindly accepted my offer. At first, I thought a press officer was going
to answer our questions, but George Galloway answered them himself.
For more information about George Galloway and The RESPECT
Party please visit their website: Here.
Abovetopsecret.com (ATS): 1/ First let
me congratulate you on you victory in Bethnal Green and Bow ( I don't want
to make the same mistake Paxman did). You've been a Labour Party member
for many years. If invited back under different leadership would you accept?
Are there any circumstances you can foresee under which you might rejoin
the Labour Party ?
George Galloway (GG) : Only if the Labour
party rejoined me. It's not just a question of leadership - Brown is simply
Tweedlee to Blair's Tweedledumb - it's the basic philosophy of the party,
which has changed out of all recognition to the one I joined. I cannot envisage
any circumstances in which the party I knew can come back to me.
ATS: 2/ Now that you are representing Respect in Parliament
and not Labour have your views changed concerning electoral reform ?
GG: Not at all. I've always been in favour of electoral reform,
of a fairer representative system, like PR, and, obviously, I still feel
ATS: 3/ This is a fun question. Imagine if you would that
due to unlikely circumstances the Queen invites you to form a Government
of National Unity. Selecting from all sides of both houses, if necessary,
which politicians would you choose to serve in cabinet under your premiership
and why ?
GG: This isn't a fun question, it's a mad question. There
are politicians I admire for their facility, but none I'd want on a tiger
shoot with me, or in the next office of state. If you want my tip for a
future leader of New Labour, after Brown, it would be David Miliband. Shrewd,
clever, televisual. I can't thole (a Scottish term) what he stands for,
mind you. But Parliament is a bubble, insulated from the real world and
the boys and girls inside it simply don't get it. I'd be looking outside
of parliament for my cabinet, and of course the first law passed would be
to remove Queen as head of state. I hear she has lately taken possession
of an iPod, so i'd give her a bit of advice on playlists, heavily Dylan-centred.
ATS: 4/ One of your main criticism of the Blair government
over recent years has been the slavish way it has followed U.S foreign policy.
A question I've not heard asked of you is your opinion on a stronger united
European foreign and defence policy to act as an alternative and effective
counter to the U.S on issues like the Middle East crisis for instance. Should
the UK act with total independence on these issues or cultivate this alternative
GG: I'm very much a European, although not of the Blair/Chirac
sort. They are for the kind of Europe the majority of the population oppose,
and for the failed constitution, which tried to impose a neo-liberal agenda
on Europe. That idea of Europe is dead, thankfully. What we need is a bond
of nation states, united by common interests, like welfare, like defence.
The idea, also, that we have an independent military is laughable, if it
wasn't so costly. We are almost entirely dependent on the United States,
particularly for our so-called nuclear capability. We should scrap our moth-eaten
nuclear armoury immediately, which would be a substantial cost benefit to
the taxpayer. And I'm not sure the Chiefs of Staff could even tell us who
these weapons are aimed at now, since the Cold War is long dead. A European
defence force, difficult to achieve I grant you, would, I'm sure, be a cheaper
and more sensible option. It won't happen in my lifetime because thee are
too many vested interests in
favour of the shrinking status quo. Look at all the fuss there's been about
merging regiments recently.
ATS: 5/ You've vehemently critised Saddam Hussein's dictatorship
since he came to power yet you've opposed any coordinated international
action to depose him because either through sanctions or invasion the innocent
Iraqi people have borne the brunt. So how should murderous dictators be
deposed or is it not the international communities responsibility to intervene
? Without wishing to pre-empt your answer to this question I'd hope for
a more positive response than that you wouldn't of sold him arms in the
first place. The geo-politics of the 1970's and 80's during the cold war
would have ensured somebody would have.
GG: Where do we stop and who makes the judgment to start?
Do you want to invade Zimbabwe and remove Mugabe? Are our troops being inoculated
against malaria for their incursion into Darfur? Is there a pecking order
of nastiness and do we do a number-count of the dead with a bar, say 10,000
killed, over which we jump into action? Does the UN take action against
countries which repeatedly flout its resolutions? In which case, see you
in Tel Aviv. But even if I believed in it, and I don't, the United Nations,
the manifestation of the international community, would never be able to
intervene anywhere, because the US (and British) veto would prvent it. And,
anyway, America has created or sustained most of the world's despots. So,
you see, I don't accept the premise of your question. I don't believe we
have the right to interfere militarily in anybody else's country. I do believe
in defence and in the preservation of democracy so I would have been one
of the first to sign up if I had been
around in the time of the Second World War.
ATS: 6/ In your opinion why did George W Bush take the
U.S.A into war against Iraq ? What were his primary motivations and considerations
GG: A mixture of reasons. Unfinished business. He believes
his father was weak and should have marched on to Baghdad when he had the
chance in the first Gulf War. The preservation of oil. Iraq may well be
the most oil-rich country in the world, even more than that well-known bastion
of democracy, Saudi Arabia, it's certainly the second-biggest with, also,
almost incalculable reserves. The preservation of Israel, having a puppet
state in the centre of the richest mineral earth in the world. And it was
also playing out the neocon philosophy that this should be the American
century. Did I mention stupidity and megalomania?
ATS: 7/ Why, do you believe, did Tony Blair take the UK
into war against Iraq ?
GG: I once asked him about his cosy relationship with the
US and how he justified it. He answered that it allowed Britain to punch
above her weight. That is a strong part of it, although it is difficult
to see the tangible benefits we've received for holding Bush's jacket in
Iraq. I think, also, religion played a part. I think he strongly believed
that Saddam was evil, as he undoubtedy was, but that he had a divine sanction
to remove him. God is clearly not talking to him about other evil dictators.
ATS: 8/ Large sections of the British media have waged
a concerted campaign against your integrity over recent years. What are
your views on press freedom and the balance of power between elected politicians
and unelected journalists ? Are libel laws sufficient to protect the British
public from similar campaigns ?
GG: I'm a bit of a connoisseur of libel, as you may know.
And I've put not just my house and cash on the line but my parliamentary
future on suing the Daily Telegraph, because I would be bankrupted and thrown
out of Westminster if I lose the final round in October. But the system
isn't fair, because the costs involved are huge and there is no legal aid.
I'm not saying there should be, but there should be stronger defences against
lies and vilifications visited on politicians and others by powerful media
barons. I don't have any pat answers, but I know that the PCC and its ilk
are a joke. How about a system of suspensions, like in football, so that
if, say, The Sun publishes something untrue about someone it's red-carded
and suspended from publishing for a month. Or forever?
ATS: 9/ I believe you've said that you will stand down
in Bethnal Green and Bow at the next general election in favour of a local
candidate. Will you be standing in an alternative London seat ?
GG: I will be standing down at the next election and I hope
that someone of Bengali descent will take my place. And I think that is
very likely. But I don't intend to give up politics. I will, almost certainly,
stand in another seat. And probably in London, but there are four or five
years to consider the options. I don't intend to go quietly into the good
night, which you may be unsurprised to hear.
ATS: 10/ Your appearance before the U.S senate committee
hearing has brought you international acclaimation. Many saw it as a clash
of political cultures. What response have you had from the American media
and public ?
GG: I think you're right, it was a clash of political cultures.
Our adversarial system versus their much more sedate and deferential. I've
had more than 15,000 emails to my House of Commons address, the vast majority
coming from the US. And that is clearly the tip of the iceberg, because
it isn't that easy to find the address. There is clearly a huge body of
people there who feel totally disenfranchised by the system and I think
I was able to give voice to them, if only temporarily. But I intend to return
to the USA and foment as much troble for Bush and his consensus as I can.
I'm hoping to go on a speaking tour in the autumn.
I would like to thank George Galloway for taking part and
I would like to thank John Bull 1 for providing the questions. I also would
like to thank RESPECT for giving us the time to speak to George Galloway.
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