As the election enters its final week, All For Unity has come under sustained attack from people on Twitter, led by Tory party activists, who, scared of losing list seats, have briefed candidates to launch personal attacks on George Galloway.
To be honest, I was initially sceptical about George too. However, I had been awestruck by his debating skills in the US Senate, his passion in 2014 on the pro-UK side, and his commitment now to strategies that could beat the SNP and beat back the ugly and tiresome Nationalism that has brought Scotland to its knees. All of that is what got me talking with him about a new party to help break the stalemate.
As I have come to know him more, and as I have become more aware of how the media distorts reality, I have taken a little time to understand his past. Combined with my personal experience of his passion for this fight, I think, perhaps, it’s time we re-evaluated Mr Galloway.
- He works for Russian Television. So what? George is very open about it. People like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Sir John Curtice appear on his Mother of All Talkshows on RT. George also works for American and Middle Eastern channels. I have no idea if the Russians are trying to bring about the break-up of Britain via this election. They certainly would not use a fervent defender of the UK like George to do so. It seems much more likely that the BBC, the British state broadcaster, is trying to subvert democracy and influence the result, by shutting George out of the televised debates.
- That GG has supported Irish republicanism. If anyone has a right to hold that against him it is me. I was blown up by the IRA and lost friends in Northern Ireland. That all ended when the Queen shook hands with Martin McGuinness. This struggle in Scotland against separatism is different and is about hearts and minds. What is not to like about a cross party, cross-society, Scottish pro-UK party founded by a half-Irish catholic?
- That he once campaigned for independence himself. He never did. He did campaign for the Scottish Parliament (like nearly every Labour MP at the time), which is why they regularly trot out news photographs of George with a young Nicola Sturgeon and falsely claim he was campaigning for Independence.
- That GG pursued unauthorised diplomacy with Saddam Hussein. As a former soldier, who served in the First Gulf War, I respect his initiative in trying to avert a war. Blessed are the peacemakers. The hardest thing I ever did in the Army was to break the news to a widow that her only son had been killed. George succeeded in persuading Saddam Hussein to re-admit Hans Blix and the UN arms inspectors. George is criticised for what he said to Saddam Hussein but diplomacy has its own language and he was hardly likely to insult a brutal dictator in his own palace.
- That he sided with Arabs against British soldiers. He didn’t. George was arguing the theory of a ‘Just War’, an important philosophical theory that goes back to St Thomas Aquinas. It is very unfortunate that he used the blunt language he did to reinforce his point. Many of my generation of Army officers now accept that Galloway was right and Blair was wrong, and that George’s central point that Baathism was a lesser evil than Al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalism was absolutely correct.
- That he took part in a Big Brother TV show. George took part in a charity event that raised over £200,000. Which other Scottish politicians would have the celebrity to be invited into the Big Brother House or the sense of humour and ability not to take themselves too seriously?
- That he has abandoned his principles because he now consorts with Tories and Etonians. Absurdly, this seems to be what most upsets the BBC, judging by Martin Geissler’s now infamous interview. Here George is guilty as charged. It underlines the severity of the situation facing Scotland that George and I are standing together. But no one should be surprised. Tam Dalyell, another Etonian, was an important mentor of George’s. If only the other Scots in the Labour Party had listened to Tam, we might not be in the mess we are now.
- That All For Unity is George’s vanity project. No 66 year old with a young family, with a global broadcasting career and a large parliamentary pension would willingly take a pay cut to enter the snake-pit of Scottish politics. That certain parts of the media choose to pursue this crude narrative, is an insult to the 55 other candidates, which include a former tribunal judge, a procurator fiscal, a court lawyer, two GPs, former Labour and Tory candidates, former Army officers, the former RSM of the Black Watch, a businesswoman with an OBE for services to industry, former university lecturers etc.
Sure, George is an easy target for MSPs who have never said anything controversial, or even memorable, themselves. And for lazy journalists who are happy to do the bidding of the big parties in the hope of a safe seat one day for themselves. But if the pro-UK side fails on May 6 and Nicola Sturgeon gets back in – and bitter, abject failure that will be, however Douglas Ross and Anas Sarwar try to spin it – there is one man every sensible Unionist would want on their side in any fresh Scexit referendum campaign, and that is George Galloway.
Jamie Blackett is leader of All for Unity (the Alliance for Unity). Follow him on Twitter @Jamie_Blackett.
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