UK Politics

Galloway and Morocco

After our discussion yesterday on Galloway’s support for “Morocco’s position” in on the Western Sahara, I’ve poked around to see what else the Great Man has said about the Western Sahara conflict.

The most interesting Galloway intervention occurred six years ago, during Jeremy Corbyn MP’s adjournment debate on the Western Sahara issue in the House of Commons:

Mr. Corbyn : The evidence that has been given to me is that we have–perhaps the Minister will deal with this when he replies–because [the selling of arms to Morocco] could be considered that they are being used for internal repression or to control the situation in Western Sahara ahead of a possible UN referendum.

Mr. George Galloway (Glasgow, Kelvin): There are few occasions on which I would disagree with my hon. and good Friend, but I am genuinely puzzled about this part of his speech. I shall have something to say about the broader issue, if I may be allowed, but Morocco has one of the best human rights records in the Arab world and beyond. That is recognised by Amnesty International. Also, it happens to have–though one would detect no hint of it in my hon. Friend’s discourse–the only socialist Government in the middle east, as well as a new king, who is trying to use a new broom to solve some of the problems from the past. It is rather strange for a progressive Member of Parliament to mount such an attack on Morocco at this, of all times.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Nicholas Winterton ): Order. Before the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) replies, I remind the hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvin (Mr. Galloway) that it is normal for hon. Members who want to participate in a straightforward half-hour Adjournment debate to clear it with the hon. Member who initiated the debate, the occupant of the Chair and the Minister. I am not sure if that convention has been honoured in this case.

Mr. Corbyn : I am surprised and disappointed at my hon. Friend’s intervention. My examination of what has happened in Western Sahara and Morocco’s behaviour since 1974 is not an attack on Morocco as a state, or a blanket criticism of everything that happens in Morocco. It is specific to the right of the people of Western Sahara to determine their future in accordance with United Nations policy and the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, or MINURSO.

I’d be interested to hear from readers about anything else Galloway has said on the Western Sahara issue.

Generally speaking, Galloway’s contacts in Morocco aren’t bad at all. You’ll remember the secret meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed (now King Mohammed VI of Morocco), to explore the possibility of “negotiations between the Saudi dissidents in the UK, including al-Fagih and the House of Saud”. Al Faqih is a former Guardian columnist who has been named as Al Qaeda’s spokesman in London. Galloway had previously provided his services to Al Faqih’s London-based “Committee for the Defence of Legitimate Rights”.

But that’s an old story.

Brett adds

Isn’t it a very telling indictment of Bob Pitt’s failing Left-wing credentials that he now endorses the IHRC’s branding of the king of Morocco as an “Islamophobe” for what they describe as “his so called reforms” when Galloway praises Morocco for having the best human rights record in the Middle East, a genuine socialist government and, in the king, a “new broom” solving the country’s problems? Pitt, in effect, has conceded that in his view the call for Socialism over Shariah is objectively Islamophobic. Perhaps he should nominate Galloway.