Nick Cohen in the Observer looks at the history of the East End’s struggle against those who sucked-up to fascist dictators in the 1930’s and those who do so today:
Galloway’s kissing of the ring of a tyrant with the blood of 1.5 million people on his hands was hardly a one-off. Iraqi left wingers I know loathe him because he denounced Iraqi trade unionists as ‘quislings’. The fact that their comrades are still being tortured and murdered by a Baathist and Islamist ‘resistance’ which retains all of the far-right’s hatred of unions hasn’t helped cool their tempers.
Last week, he was continuing to act on behalf of the regime when he said Tariq Aziz, Saddam’s foreign minister, was a ‘political prisoner’ who should be released. Aziz was Saddam’s loyal henchman and up to his neck in his crimes.
Doubtless, at his trial, Aziz will say he was just obeying orders and it may work. But for Galloway to say that he shouldn’t stand trial is to top Mosley. I can find no reference to Sir Oswald calling for the Nuremberg defendants to be released without charge.
He ends on a positive note:
Many of my colleagues think that Galloway could beat King. He’s a ruthless operator and she voted for the war against Iraq and that’s that. I’m not so sure. I went to speak at a King rally on the strange histories of the far left and far right. I expected it to be like most meetings I address: all but empty. Instead, it was packed and the audience was up for a fight.
The Labour movement, Iraqi refugees and people with no great history of political activism are uniting behind King. The East End left may just manage to win one last battle.
The ‘anti-war candidate’ takes to the streets of the East End in the 1930’s.
In the same paper Cristina Odone visits the constituency and talks to Muslim voters (she only talks to Muslim voters). It seems Galloway’s message doesn’t just include the war and it appears to be appealing to some people:
Outside the mosque, Abdul Ahad sits with two colleagues. They run a Muslim job centre, and as we talk they are approached by a Somali couple who have recently settled in Tower Hamlets and are trying to find a ‘suitable job’ (ie, in an all-female workplace) for the wife. ‘The election is important because we have a chance to change what is happening now,’ Abdul tells me. Like his colleagues he is bearded, and wears a hat, but is in Western clothes. ‘We have sex education that promotes sex because young children should not be exposed to these things; kids below 11 years are dressing up like adults, young boys and girls are doing obscene things. This never happened before sex education. Look at abortion – Britain has the highest abortion rates in Europe. Look at gay and lesbian rights … this is not natural. And then you have television and movies and computer games promoting violence. Galloway shares the same moral values as us, he sees that religion is a stepping-stone to a moral society.’
Is Galloway embarassed at sharing an agenda on such issues that not even the most right-wing Tory candidate would admit to holding?
‘I have religious beliefs and try to live by them,’ Galloway tells me. ‘I have all my life been against abortion and against euthanasia – in fact, on Question Time two weeks ago I was the only panellist to inveigh against the creeping euthanasia in our society. I am not surprised if my position on these issues strikes a chord.’