Winning Friends and Influencing people – the Gallo-way

When Andrew Murray puffed the most recent Stop the War march in London on Comment is Free on 2nd August he sent out a fairly obvious signal to his fellow Stoppers:

The slogans for the demonstration are: Unconditional Ceasefire Now; Stop Israel’s Attacks on Lebanon and Gaza; and Stop Blair Backing Bush’s Wars.

These slogans both express the main demands we should make on our own government and correspond to the deepest feelings of most British people at the present time. The first is obviously the most critical.

At a time when passions are running very high, it is imperative to avoid slogans or postures which could divide this broad anti-war opinion and give the beleaguered pro-war elements in government political wriggle-room.

Did Comrade Galloway pay heed to this sensible call? Nope, he decided to show the upstart Murray who was the original Alpha Male of the UK peace movement. And to rub it in delivered the most ludicrous Gallowegian rhetoric yet heard from the rostrum on the day of the march:

Hezbollah has never been a terrorist organisation. I am here to glorify the Lebanese resistance, Hezbollah, and to glorify the resistance leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah …

It certainly went down well with the protestors who were carrying ‘Have faith in Nasrallah’ placards and ‘We are all Hezbollah Now’ signs, but what of the wider anti-war audience?

How did, say, the largest national organisation that has been supplying thousands of bodies to demonstrations in subsidised coaches since before the M1 existed view Galloway’s words?

Not very well:

The NUS executive passed a motion censuring Mr Galloway for comments to an anti-war rally last month.

The student motion noted that Hizbollah had been implicated in numerous attacks, including the bombing of the Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994, in which 96 people died.

It also pointed to comments made by Nasrallah in 2000, in which he described Nazi atrocities as a legend “invented by the Jews” and called for the dissolution of Israel because “anyone who reads the Koran and the holy writings of the monotheistic religions sees what they [the Jewish people] did to the prophets, and what acts of madness and slaughter the Jews carried out.”

Nasrallah’s views were contrary to the NUS values of solidarity, peace and respect. The union will also be writing to Mr Galloway’s Respect Party to denounce its stance on the Middle East conflict.

You’d think being told you were a raving moonbat by the National Union of Students might cause you to rethink the logic of your position – far from it:

A spokesman for Mr Galloway retorted: “The executive of NUS has shown itself to be as out of touch with public opinion, and I must assume, student opinion in this country as Tony Blair. It has chosen to play puerile party politics by attacking the most outspoken anti-war MP at a time of grave crisis.”

Student Respect are also incredulous at the NUS executive’s criticism:

The NUS NEC met up in the midst of the recent crisis in Lebanon, and not only failed to call for an immediate unconditional ceasefire (in the face of the majority of public opinion and the international community) but also refused to back the Stop the War Coalition’s 23 September demonstration, and instead used the opportunity to condemn George Galloway MP, one of the leading figures in the anti-war movement.

The Stoppers are even threatening to send round top Respect official John Rees to the students’ representatives in order to ‘contextualise’ Galloway’s words in support of Nasrallah:

We would like to draw attention to the request of Respect national secretary John Rees to attend the next NUS NEC meeting to respond to the allegations made, as Respect were not questioned about these and have not been given a chance to reply.

Let’s hope they tell the goateed Trot where to stick his apologetics.

It looks like Rees will have his work cut out for him in Swansea – they’re trying to ‘no platform’ the whole of Respect:

The motion resolves to “no platform Mr Galloway and any member of RESPECT in accordance with the Union’s anti-fascist stance” and to forbid Swansea students from holding membership of RESPECT Students. It also proposes to withdraw Union membership from the Stop The War Coalition until Mr Galloway steps down from his position as Vice-President of the organisation.

The motion accuses the Party of collaborating with “Islamofascist” groups who support the death penalty for homosexuality, and criticises the RESPECT Students movement for allegedly labelling supporters of the 2003 Iraq war “racists” and for “hijacking Union campaigns to promote themselves and their own agenda”.