UK Politics

Turning Up the Heat

Today’s Times notes that a certain moustachioed MP currently on his way to Washington DC is going to find things have warmed up for him when he touches down at Heathrow again next week:

Senior diplomats were combing the Senate committee’s findings to discover if there was anything new that Scotland Yard should look at.

Alun Jones, QC, an expert in fraud and extradition, said there was no doubt that the the Serious Fraud Office or Crown Prosecution Service had authority to bring proceedings against the MP if there were evidence of wrongdoing.

The Charity Commissioners were also studying the findings to see if there were grounds for reopening their inquiry into the MP’s children’s charity, the Mariam Appeal, which the senators claimed he used to conceal payments from Iraq.

On top of the all that there is the Telegraph Appeal which will be heard in October and the Parliamentary Standards Enquiry which had been put on hold because of the legal action.

You’d think Galloway’s cheerleaders in the Socialist Workers Party might be a bit uncomfortable about gambling what remains of their political capital on a man under so much scrutiny for his relations with a regime as unpleasant as Baathist Iraq, but no – it’s all a red herring according to this article in the latest Socialist Worker:

Others have Galloway as Stalinist, Baathist, communalist, thug, embezzler, anti-Semite and someone with marital problems. Each one of these can and will be dealt with elsewhere, but in reality it’s not the substance of the accusation that is the point. Galloway as an elected representative of the anti-war, anti-inequality movement has dared to expose the false left-ness, phoney radicalism and corrupt militarism of Labour yoked to US power.

On the leading role of figures like Galloway it continues:

They emerge as leading figures in political movements and, for this reason I think, have this special place in the gallery. Because they have been selected and elected by movements that are on the march and drawing in new areas of support, they become the most hated hate figures of all.

That’s what’s known as sticking your fingers in your ears and singing “I can’t hear you” when faced with uncomfortable questions.

The reason so many people don’t trust Galloway is because there are too many unanswered questions about his previous financial and political dealings not because he is anti-war or a political radical. The Stop the War movement made a huge error of judgement in allowing Galloway to be the public face of their cause.

If they had chosen someone else to speak for them they might still have been a political force to be reckoned with instead of what they are now – a much reduced organisation viewed with a certain amount of suspicion by a wide range of people. For all Tony Benn’s naivity, I can’t imagine him being the subject of so much scrutiny even though he also travelled to Iraq to appeal to Saddam before the war. Those left in the anti-war movement have been forced into an uncomfortable corner defending an individual with a propensity to duck important questions about his personal propriety instead of making an intelligent case against British involvement in the Iraq war.

It’s the same with Respect. Those who joined up because they were in favour of Respect, Equality, Socialism, Peace, Environment, Community, and Trades Unionism have been sold a pup. Their energies have been subsumed in increasingly desperate attempts to defend a litigious individual yet to answer them with the sort of candour one would expect of a man in his position.

It’ll take a while for the whole story to unravel but the fact that senior Iraqi leaders have now given evidence which appears to show that the UN scheme to help sick and starving Iraqi citizens was used to buy political influence with politicians sympathetic to Iraq does need to be investigated fully rather than brushed under the carpet. It’s much too important to be explained away as a plot aimed at discrediting the anti-war movement.