A reader writes of his experiences at a George Galloway “gig” in Glasgow:
“Are you from the local Orange Lodge?” quipped Gruesome George as he passed me as I handed out leaflets outside the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow. Playing the sectarian card is the Glasgow equivalent of playing the race card. My leaflet consisted of Johann Hari’s 15 questions for a Galloway Supporter, Hitch’s selection of Galloway quotes, especially from his recent trip to Syria, and the first page of Fred Kaplan’s Slate article “100,000 dead – or 8,000?”
Most people took a leaflet and said “thank you”, even after they had noticed the content. Only one told me to “shove it up your arse”, and three or four others returned it with more moderate comments. Two people asked who was funding me or whom I represented. I said I represented decency and paid for the copying of the leaflets myself. There were several far-left leafleters who initially ignored me but later attempted debate/abuse as the time for the show approached. Two helpfully explained “We can’t stop you ‘cause we are not organising this. If this was our meeting you wouldn’t be allowed.”
Interestingly, I did not notice a single member of Glasgow’s substantial Asian population in the audience, and I had watched them all going in.
I had bought a ticket. Now I felt a bit sick as I gave my credit card number knowing that some of my money would go to Galloway, but all 460 seats were sold out so he would simply have received someone else’s dosh. And he would certainly have preferred it if I hadn’t been there.
He opened with an attempt at stand up comedy and various anecdotes. It seemed to please most of the crowd but never raised a smile from me. He made a joke about Mike (Lord) Watson’s several marriages, which I thought rich.
I was pleased to be mentioned as “that idiot handing out leaflets”, and it was only after 30 minutes or so that he got onto the topic of the war. It was all familiar stuff, but he was noticeably less up front about his support of the “insurgents” than he had been in Syria or in his New York debate with Hitchens. He described Al Qaeda in Iraq as “like anthrax”. He seems to support only the Baathist and simple criminal terrorists, though they seem interwoven with the jihadists. He expressed his support for Rose Gentle, Scotland’s equivalent of Cindy Sheehan, who was in the audience. He quoted her as saying that the people who killed her son were not those who pulled the trigger, but those who sent him to Iraq. Well, Mrs Gentle, I am sorry for your loss, but you are still wrong. The people who killed your son are those who killed him. You are doubly wrong to align yourself with Galloway and his like who support those who killed your son. Sadly I never got to make that point on the night.
The second half was all question and answer. I put up my hand repeatedly, but he kept choosing people who asked him questions like “Could you give us your comments on the Gate Gourmet strike.” I started to heckle loudly. Unfortunately this gave him the opportunity to point out that I would have been thrown out of the Labour Party conference but was allowed to stay at his show. At one point he said that the UK parliament was now a “rubber stamp parliament just like Iraq used to have.” So I was able to shout out “used to have” forcing him to change tack a bit. I will not bore you with all my heckles but suffice to say that he couldn’t answer any of them, though I was not savvy enough to phrase them all as questions. I loudly shouted to the audience just to note that he couldn’t answer any of my points and that he refused to take any hard questions from me. He said that he wouldn’t take questions from me because I was “a hooligan.” Only at the very end did I shout out asking him about the Mariam Appeal accounts and the missing million pounds or so. He simply ignored me. A number of people shouted at me, but really not many, which makes me think some must have appreciated my points. The only person to speak to me on the way out said I was right enough.