Opinion Politics

Exclusive Interview: George Galloway talks Media, Corbyn & Sexism

George Galloway

George Galloway is a British politician, broadcaster, and writer. Aged 26, he became chairman of Labour in Scotland. Six years later, he became an MP in the House of Commons. He was expelled from the Labour Party in 2003 for his outspoken comments on the Iraq war. He then led the anti-war party Respect. In 2017, he produced the documentary “The Killing$ of Tony Blair”.

M: One accusation I keep stumbling upon is that you’re sexist. I would like to clear this out for our readers.

Lisa Nandy, the MP coordinating Labour’s campaign, said constituents in the seat left vacant after the death of Sir Gerald Kaufman last month, “deserve better than a man who has described the sexual assault of women as ‘bad sexual etiquette’”.

Some Corbynistas buy into this story despite being in an ideal position to know how manipulative the media is. People might be disenchanted with the mainstream media in many regards, but many among them still believe the official narrative that Assange is a rapist and that you are a rapist apologist because of your defence of Julian Assange, by describing the allegations of sexual offence as bad etiquette.

What do you say to such assertions based on your defence of Assange?

George Galloway: Indeed, Corbynistas above anyone else should know MSM is an organised conspiracy against the truth. Why would you accept the traducing of me when they reject the traducing of Jeremy Corbyn so comprehensively? The people who attack me on these identity politics issues are the very people who attack Corbyn. It surprises me there are some people on the left who have not yet fully accepted that Julian Assange is victim of a gigantic conspiracy. I’m not myself a conspiracy theorist but that doesn’t mean there are no conspiracies. Assange was set up for the purpose of getting him to the US where he’d spend the rest of his days in a dungeon like Chelsea Manning would’ve, if she wasn’t released by presidential pardon. All the rest is detail. He raped no one. The alleged victims have stated that he raped no one. The Swedish authorities allowed him to leave the country because he was not wanted for any sexual offence. I will defend assange til my last breath. I believe in him, I know him well and I know what he’s done will stand the test of time, as it’s of historic importance.

As to the issue of rape, quite clearly sex without consent is rape and a grave and serious crime. No means no, in popular parlance. But Julian’s defence of the “alleged allegations” (because these allegations are now denied by the women), was that he had a reasonable belief that they consented to consensual sex. Which is the agreed defence available to any accused in Britain and Sweden, by law, if someone has a reasonable belief then they are entitled to that defence.

M: But in Sweden simply not wearing a condom is defined as rape by law, that’s what they accused him of..

George Galloway: Well, that’s what it was said they said — having to use this torturous phrasing because these allegations are now denied by the women themselves.

M: Do you think the women tried to set him up? There are texts from one woman to another proposing the sale of the information to a local paper, now in the possession of the police.

George Galloway: At this delicate stage — and it’s a very delicate stage, I don’t want to go further into the motives of allegations because this moved, long ago, into the realm of state and interstate politics. If the Swedish authorities truly wanted to question him on allegations sexual offences, they could have done so in London, but they refused to do so, even though with many other alleged criminals they have done it — even murder cases, or they could have said “come to Sweden to be questioned and we guarantee no extradition”. Their refusal to do either of these to me makes it abundantly obvious that this is an attempt to get Julian to the US where a grand jury has already prepared an indictment grand trial.. he’d go straight into an unfair trial which is not about the use of a condom but against the exposure of US war crimes.

Update: Since this interview, taken on May 15th, Sweden has withdrawn the accusations against Assange, making it more obvious that what George Galloway said here about Assange’s case is true and fair.

M: WHAT DO YOU SAY TO JEREMY CORBYN’S REMARKS THAT YOUR CAMPAIGN AGAINST NAZ SHAH WAS APPALLING?

George Galloway: He never made it.

M: But the press reported it.

George Galloway: Lots of things Jeremy Corbyn never said were reported. I had 20 conversations with him and I can say to you he never said it.

M: Now, in an article for Progress, Dawn Butler, who nominated Corbyn for the Labour leadership (later voting for Andy Burnham), has gone public with her communication with the Labour leader. “I have spoken to Jeremy Corbyn and he has told me he is not in favour of letting Galloway back in,” she writes.

George Galloway: Also false.

M: Do you think he’ll welcome you back to the party if Labour is in government after this election?

George Galloway: If I’m elected, as soon as I’ve sworn in I’ll go and sit beside him in Parliament. No one can stop us. Not the NEC, not anyone.

The NEC’s writ does not extend to MPs who wish to take the Labour party whip. A complex esoteric point, perhaps, one that needs to be made nevertheless.

M: Isn’t running against a Labour MP hurting Jeremy’s chances of becoming PM?

George Galloway: That would be an argument if this was a by-election and not a General Election. If this wasn’t now a General Election, the argument that the defeat of labour under Jeremy Corbyn by me in the context of a by-election would have had some way… which I carefully calculated. If Sam Wheeler, (the Corbyn candidate) were selected I wouldn’t have this conversation with you now.

But when Watson and Vaz rigged the selection with the explicit purpose of further undermining Jeremy Corbyn, that argument went out the window. Now in a General Election, it doesn’t matter, because, he either wins or loses; but if he wins, that I defeated Afzal Khan doesn’t matter, he’ll have my vote… if he loses, my vote will be stronger. All of us know there will be a coup by Watson and co, they will seek to overthrow Jeremy and he’ll have an extra MP in me defending him. If it was Afzal it would be one extra MP to undermine him.

M: You claimed that Afzal Khan would stab Jeremy Corbyn in the back. Afzal responded in a public meeting at the Klondyke that he would not stab him in the back. What evidence do you have that he would betray Jeremy?

George Galloway: I know he’s Tom Watson and Vaz’ candidate, which is undisputable, if he wasn’t, they wouldn’t have put him up; they wouldn’t have rigged the short list if they were doing so for a Corbynite.

M: You don’t think the pro-Corbyn faction of the NEC might have managed to put a Corbynite in?

George Galloway: As soon as the five-person panel was surgically altered in one day, when Rebecca Longbailey was taken off the selection committee and replaced by Vaz, making a three Jeremy Corbyn majority into a three Corbyn minority, that dye was cast. What conceivable reason could there be for taking Longbailey, a Manchester MP, off the panel, if not to alter its political balance? And to replace her with the discredited figure of Keith Vaz, to me it’s screamingly obvious what was going on, and to Sam Wheeler also.

M: So you think Afzal’s support of Palestine is just a facade?

George Galloway: Not seen much of it. I understand he did have something on social media about that. We can no longer tell because he wiped it off.

M: People’s understanding of politics tends to be slightly myopic, in that they vote for the party that is best at filling potholes or the candidate that gives them nice bike lanes, missing out the bigger picture, like war and a rigged economy. What do you have to say to those who criticise your career as MP on the grounds you don’t get too involved in local communities — never present at surgeries, and spend too much time on (alternative) TV?

George Galloway: Pack of lies. I had a surgery in Bradford every Saturday for three years. Including holidays. Every week. Packed surgery, thousands of cases. Pack of lies. It was New Labour canard coined as soon as I defeated them in Bradford.

Coming of the same stable is that I’ve lost my seat in Glasgow and Bethnal Green. I never defended my seat in Glasgow because it was abolished, wiped off the political map. Blair expelled me in 2003 and in 2004 abolished the constituency.

That’s how I ended up in Bethnal Green.

Before I stood in Bradford I announced I would stand there only once and I would make way at the end of my term for a Bengali MP. I didn’t lose my seats, I didn’t defend them.

The only seat I ever lost was in 2015, Bradford West and that’s a whole different story.

M: Well, this is another reason why people are left with the impression you are sexist, your accusations against Naz Shah’s accusations, what happened there?

George Galloway: I don’t want to open that because my comrade Salma Yaqoob is standing against Naz Shah in Bradford West, I hope she wins and I don’t want to open any old wounds that might harm her campaign.

M: What chances do you think Jeremy has in this election? Or what chances are there, of a Labour government?

George Galloway: Not much chance of winning, if you mean by winning a Labour majority, that’s impossible for anyone but Jesus. The election result in 2015 was so poor under Ed Miliband that the mountain needed to be climbed is too great. The best that Jeremy Corbyn can do is head of a coalition of non-Tory parties to frustrate May’s ability to form a government. That too has been undermined by the complete failure of the Lib Dem soufflé to rise. At the start of the campaign everyone believed, including me, that Lib Dems would do well, recapture seats lost in 2015, but they’re going down in polls. Rather losing seats.

SNP are — very untrustworthy coalition partners, let me tell you — also going down. Tory going up in Scotland. UKIP collapsing under our eyes: down 10%. So Corbyn’s chances of leading a non-Tory majority are also slim. Having said that Corbyn is doing much better than the MSM imagined he would do, significantly better than Ed, Labour is at 32%, it had 29.5% still two weeks to go; he has weaknesses but he’s strong at campaigning, he’s extremely good at it. This is campaigning weather, this is not “will the right honourable gentleman”, this is up close and personal on the streets and in communities and Jeremy is great at that and Theresa is dreadful at that, so in two weeks I expect him to continue to rise. I don’t believe he can rise to win enough seats to form government, to stop May forming government, but the idea that he’d lead Labour to a landslide defeat is dead, people still repeat it, including the labour traitors, but it’s clear to me he’d get a remarkably good result in the circumstances: 30% plus up to 35%. If the labour traitors had not spent two years stabbing him in the back, who knows where he’d be?

Update: Labour is now at 40% according to Ipsos MORI.

M: They did declare they’d rather Labour lost than win with Corbyn.

George Galloway: Tony Blair said that… Peter Mandelson said he’s working every day to sabotage the leader… and they’re still Labour, while I am not.

M: What do you think the Left can hope for if they lose this election? Do you think there will be tyranny under the Tories?

George Galloway: There won’t be tyranny. Politics is a dynamic business. If Corbyn gets this result I predict, there will be a better platform to build on than any comparable left party in Europe. To compare with the French Socialist party’s 6%… Melenchon is comparable to Corbyn. If you had Labour in France with Corbyn’s score, he would have won.

So it’s not discreditable to have 38% in a general election with a leader like Corbyn and given the extent of the fifth column activities in the party and the wall of sound media hostility. It’s by no means discrediting.

Opposition will continue to be mounted, there won’t be tyranny.

There’s only tyranny when there’s no democracy and we still have democracy.

Tyranny is a strong word. You as a Romanian would know.

M: Especially as a Romanian I would know! I don’t come with rosy glasses, it may seem on the surface that there’s democracy and freedom of opinion here but there isn’t such a fundamental difference, because in this society, also, an uncomfortable opinion can get you in pariah places, as you would know.

George Galloway: You have to have perspective. If this was a tyranny I wouldn’t talk here to you, I wouldn’t stand in an election, I wouldn’t have two million followers on social media to communicate my message to.

There are restrictions but this is balanced in civil society with a conscientious politically educated mass that is acting as counterweight to it. If the Tories win, they can do all kind of ghastly things, but they won’t be able to introduce a tyranny. They won’t be able to close down the new space available to opponents.

M: But things like Snoopers Charter or their expert discrediting of dissidents shows they have depraved power, which Ceausescu would be jealous of!

George Galloway: I’m not disputing they have depraved power and they are vile and dangerous, just we have to be careful about the word. The police would love to come and close us down right now, but they can’t.

M: What media do you recommend?

George Galloway: There’s an RT quote: “Whatever you’re watching, watch less”… read more widely. I read in the morning, online (never buy the paper!), in this order: Daily Mail, Independent, Guardian. Then Morning Star, which has limitations in web presence, and then BBC and watch RT. I, therefore, know what’s going on from different perspectives.

Ignorance is a choice now. Young people adept at tech know how to find sources.

The Canary is phenomenal, a must read every day.

These new forces by the time you’ll be my age they’ll be giant. The MSM will have faded away. Not a brave world in the future, but 30 years in the future. It’s why I’m optimistic. The power of the ruling class is diminished and will diminish.

M: Why trust the mainstream media?

George Galloway: I don’t trust them. I don’t trust the Daily Mail to give me the date. But I need to see what they’re saying. If they’re in hysterical overdrive about Corbyn’s manifesto, that tells me that’s what they worry about.

Don’t trust the Guardian. But I need to know what they’re saying.

Russia Today… although I work for and watch it, I know they are biased on France and Scottish independence.

M: Russia Today also lies?

George Galloway: Not a question of lies, but bias. RT is favourable to Scottish independence. It would suit Russian state policy if Britain were weakened. It would suit if EU were disunited.

M: So it seems Russian interests at this moment in time align with the survival interests of the rest of us!

George Galloway: A good way of putting it. RT is right most of the time for its own reasons.

M: How do you think it came to this plateau? I’m conditioned to have a vitriolic hatred for Russia, I grew up with a worldview where Russians were the bad guys, but shocked now that RT is flawless information and Americans are bad.

George Galloway: I never thought Russians were as bad as you thought. Russia had a bad period under Yeltsin, the drunken fool. But as soon as Putin came to power I knew his preoccupation was to make Russia great again and he’s done that. Not being a Russian I have no particular interest in making Russia great again. I want that there isn’t one great power because the more great powers there are, the less monopoly one has. I grew up knowing American’s were the bad guys. Now that Russia is much stronger, united than it was before, this produces a coincidence of interests between them and the rest of us on the left. There will come a point where that will cease to be true, it did come in the French election last week, as Russia would have preferred Le Pen to have won.

M: Wasn’t she preferable to the banker Macron?

George Galloway: Neither Macron nor Le Pen. Melenchon. Which was his slogan. Melenchon was cheated by a place in the final ballot by a failed campaign. He would have won. I can’t offer support for a fascist, with a Vichy history. Russia Today did. Yes, she’s anti-globalist. So were the brown shirts and the Nazi party. A lot of fascism has a lot of anti-capitalism, anti-banker but that doesn’t disguise the fact they were Nazis, which would have led to deportations, the trains, of foreigners, aliens. That kind of socialism is the socialism of fools.

M: Who do you think people should vote for in West Bromwich East?

George Galloway: That’s the most difficult question I’ve been asked in this election. It’s an issue, like the camel, difficult to define but easy to recognise…

Some Labour MPs I could hold my nose and vote for, some for whom I could skip into ballot station to vote for, but others I simply could not vote for nor could ask others to vote for. I suspect West Bromwich is one of those, Wallasey another. Tom Watson, John Woodcock, Wes Streeting, the worst offenders, the people who never stopped attacking Corbyn, Connor McGinn, he was a whip under Corbyn and actually used his time as whip against Corbyn, to organise the coup members to overthrow Corbyn. It would be impossible for me to recommend voting for them, even with the tightest hold on my noose. I think that because I was for 40 years a follower of Tony Benn, I would stop short of not voting for Hillary Benn.

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