George Galloway’s Election Victory

The return of George Galloway is a political fact. Once expelled from the Labour Party for calling on British soldiers to resist the war in and against Iraq, he became the epitome of opportunistic, celebrity politics since. Under the banner of the Respect Party – a coalition of Trotskyist groups, Labour left locals, and largely Muslim petty bourgeois – he was elected MP for Bethnal Green & Bow, defeating the Labour candidate Oona King. Yet he failed to deliver on anything useful while in parliament. One must not overstate the significance of parliamentary elections as a vehicle for radical social change, but precisely a representative of a small party, agitating on the left, must make sure to do everything possible to maximize the parliamentary presence. One must either reject the parliamentary road altogether, which is leaving a possible lever on the state power unused and uncontested to our political opponents, or one must partake in it, and take it as seriously as one can as a forum for exposing the opposition and expanding practical means of socialist politics. What is disastrous are strategies which try to achieve neither, either by choosing parliamentary methods and abandoning all other modes of struggle altogether, or by the opposite, entering parliament and doing nothing at all with it.

Galloway undertook the latter – for a salary several times that of the median worker, he failed to vote or take part in parliamentary activity almost entirely. Between 2005 and 2009, only eleven MPs voted less often than he did, and that includes the abstentionists of Sinn Fein and the speaker and his deputies, as well as two MPs who died in office. Galloway claimed to have compensated for this by his public activities – making speeches against imperialism, challenging the reactionaries of the US Senate in their own chamber, and so forth. But he had precious little to show for it. Galloway also plays to religious, sectarian sentiments; he fails to clearly distinguish a meaningful anti-imperialism from hypocritical sycophancy towards regimes in Iraq, Iran, and Syria; the Respect Party itself has consistently shown its opportunism in its dalliances with reactionary religious groups and movements in the UK. His embarrassing participation in the reality TV programme “Celebrity Big Brother” only underlines his activities as being fundamentally opportunistically self-interested, self-aggrandizing, and making a mockery of socialism, which does not need such ‘friends’. Continue reading “George Galloway’s Election Victory”