George Galloway - The Man:
Many of you will remember George Galloway’s commanding speech delivered, with Ciceronian eloquence and Socratic incisiveness, before the US Senate that rubbished committee chairman Norm Coleman's dossier of evidence. On the other hand, some might remember him for his antics in the British Celebrity Big Brother house, where he played the part of a purring cat on all fours licking imaginary milk out of some Rula Lenska's hand. However you want to remember him, George Galloway is the Frank Sinatra of politics. The Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow does it his way, whether it is taking on Big Brother or an American Senate committee. Love him or loath him it is difficult to ignore him - especially when he is in full oratorical flight - when it comes to delivering sustained barrages of political invective, you have to salute his indefatigability.
George Galloway, MP (born 16 August 1954) is a British politician noted for his socialist views and rhetorical style. Currently he is the Respect Member of Parliament for the London constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow. He was first elected to Parliament for the City of Glasgow in Scotland in 1987. He has been elected five times to the House of Commons and is now one of the more senior members. For fourteen of the last fifteen years he has been the elected Senior Vice Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party's Foreign Affairs Committee and in 2003 he was awarded “Parliamentary Debater" of the year by the Parliamentary Press Corps.
Galloway is perhaps best known for his vigorous campaign to overturn economic sanctions against Iraq, and for his visits to Saddam Hussein in 1994 and 2002. In October 2003, he was expelled from the Labour Party when a party body ruled that he had brought the party into disrepute over the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when he called the Labour government "Tony Blair's lie machine", and stated that British soldiers should "refuse to obey illegal orders."
In January 2004, he teamed up with the Socialist Workers Party, leading members of anti-war movements such as Salma Yaqoob, and other figures on the British left such as film-maker Ken Loach and journalist George Monbiot (who later left), to form RESPECT The Unity Coalition (Respect), a new political party to the left of Labour.
He won his seat in the 2005 general election, standing for his new party. During May of the same year he appeared before a US Senate Committee as part of an inquiry into alleged oil allocations from Saddam Hussein, a charge which he denies.
Much has been said and written about George Galloway's appearance before the Senate. For it was the first time a British politician had been interrogated as a hostile witness at the US Senate - but Mr Galloway cast himself not as the accused, but the accuser. During his statement he called his accusers members of a "lickspittle Republican committee" that was engaged in creating "the mother of all smokescreens". He had vowed to give US senators "both barrels" and after sitting - coiled - through an hour-and-half of testimony against him, he unloaded all his ammunition and for many he came out as the sole champion: it was Mr Galloway who emerged from the senate with the flesh between his teeth and giving, Norm Coleman, and, by extension, the Bush administration, a black eye - mere days after the bloody nose that the Respect MP took credit for having given Tony Blair. One observer of Capitol Hill politics declared the result: "Galloway by a knockout - before round five." Others cast the confrontation as Braveheart on Capitol Hill.
George Galloway – Quotes:
On Soviet Union - Simon Hattenstone, The Guardian, September 16, 2002:
- "I am on the anti-imperialist left." The Stalinist left? "I wouldn't define it that way because of the pejoratives loaded around it; that would be making a rod for your own back. If you are asking did I support the Soviet Union, yes I did. Yes, I did support the Soviet Union, and I think the disappearance of the Soviet Union is the biggest catastrophe of my life. If there was a Soviet Union today, we would not be having this conversation about plunging into a new war in the Middle East, and the US would not be rampaging around the globe."
Speech in Iraq - In a speech to Saddam Hussein in 1994 (Note: it is unclear whether this transcript is fully accurate; no reliable source has been found yet):
- "Sir: I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability. And I want you to know that we are with you, hatta al-nasr, hatta al-nasr, hatta al-Quds [until victory, until victory, until Jerusalem."
To the US Senate - In testimony before the US Senate on May 17, 2005, Galloway made the following statements in response to the Iraqi Oil for Food corruption allegations against him. Questioning him was Senator Norm Coleman, Republican junior senator from Minnesota:
- "Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice."
- "I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction.
I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda.
I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001.
I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning."
- "Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies."
- "As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country - a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defense made of his."
- "I do know that he's your prisoner, I believe he's in Abu Ghraib prison. I believe he is facing war crimes charges, punishable by death. In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in Bagram Airbase, in Guantanamo Bay, including I may say, British citizens being held in those places. I'm not sure how much credibility anyone would put on anything you manage to get from a prisoner in those circumstances." (on Dahar Yassein Ramadan)
- "Some believe that those aeroplanes on September 11 came out of a clear blue sky. I believe they came out of a swamp of hatred created by us."
Al Jazeera TV - June 1, 2005:
- "I am speaking for tens of millions, and maybe more, around the world, who know the truth about Iraq. Who know that the real criminals are in Washington. Not in the United Nations. The real criminals are in the White House, not in the Elysee Palace. The real criminals are in the Congress, not in the anti-war movement. So I have no respect for this..."
- "Bush, and Blair, and the prime minister of Japan, and Berlusconi, these people are criminals, and they are responsible for mass murder in the world, for the war, and for the occupation, through their support for Israel, and through their support for a globalized capitalist economic system, which is the biggest killer the world has ever known. It has killed far more people than Adolph Hitler. It has killed far more people than George Bush. The economic system which these people support, which leaves most of the people in the world hungry, and without clean water to drink. So we're going to put them on trial, the leaders, when they come. They think they're coming for a holiday in a beautiful country called Scotland; in fact, they're coming to their trial."
London Terrorist Attacks - July 7, 2005:
- "We argued, as did the security services in this country, that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq would increase the threat of terrorist attack in Britain. Tragically Londoners have now paid the price of the Government ignoring such warnings."
Speech in Syria - The following is an excerpt from a speech by George Galloway at the University of Damascus. The speech aired on Al-Jazeera TV on November 13, 2005:
- "This murder of Hariri was deliberately planned and executed precisely to implicate Syria and to set in train the events which have unfolded."
On Celebrity Big Brother 2006:
- "Pipe down Mr Indignation. We'll see what the viewers thought of your double standards, your indignation about me and the aplomb with which you become a lying plutocrat in your gentleman's club. George this, Traci that, blah blah blah and give me another cigar!"
Interview on Sky News August 6, 2006:
- "One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. You are totally wrong in saying that in most people’s eyes Hizballah are terrorists. In most people’s eyes Israel is a terrorist state. It’s the fact that you cannot comprehend that fact that leads to bias that runs through all of your reporting and every question that you’ve asked me in this interview!"
- "What a silly question, what a silly person you are! Hizbollah is winning the war you can see on the other half of the screen!"
- "...because you believe, whether you know it or not, that Israeli blood is more valuable than the blood of Lebanese and Palestinians. That's the truth, and the discerning of your viewers already know it."
The above quotes are taken from WikiQuote