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George Galloway: “My role as Blair’s nemesis in this world has mass support”

Posted on Tuesday, 26 November by

George Galloway

Since leading the anti-war movement during the start of the Iraq conflict ten years ago, George Galloway has become one of the most notorious Members of Parliament of our time. Famed for his shock election victories in Bethnal Green and Bow and most recently, Bradford West, Galloway is an MP accustomed to sending shockwaves through British politics.

Ahead of his next project, producing a documentary on the alleged war crimes committed by ex-PM Tony Blair, Josh Babarinde sits down with the RESPECT Party MP to talk about Blair, youth unemployment and a potential bid for London Mayor.

Josh Babarinde: You’re hoping to produce a documentary called the Killing of Tony Blair – what’s it all about? Is it an aspiration?!

George Galloway: (Laughs) No, but it’s a triple entendre. The Kickstarter, our fighting fund to kick-start the film, has reached £150,000. Thousands of people will have given that money and so it’s a democratically funded means of making this film, which I hope, is going to be a feature-length documentary for cinema release.

I hope it’s going to put Mr. Blair in trouble, if not in jail. We feel that there’s a desperate need to stop this man in his tracks for a variety of reasons. Not just for reasons of retribution – though people should be punished for great crimes that they commit – but because if our leaders can commit such crimes and prosper then what an encouragement that would be to all future leaders to commit the same crimes knowing that they will prosper. What do I mean by that? Let me give you an example: Tony Blair made the British economy safe for bankers and now the bankers are paying him millions of pounds a year. It’s a reward, Josh. Or to take it on to a political level, he made the world safe for certain dictatorships and those dictatorships are now giving him millions of pounds a year. In other worlds it’s an incentive to leaders to play ball with the powerful to follow policies, which help the powerful, and in return the powerful will look after you when you’re no longer in office. Mr Blair made £25m last year.

JB: You’ve been involved with campaigns and causes along these lines for quite a long time now. Do you think that this is at risk of become a kind of obsession? Do you think that you could use your fame, your voice – which is listened to be many – to shed light of less visible causes?

GG: I’m always up for new causes. Anyone who wants to run any past me, I’m more than happy to look at them. But I don’t think that the Iraq War, the Middle East in general, the Palestine case and so on, I don’t think these are passing phases that constitute an obsession.

People in Bradford West elected me knowing the many fields of endeavour in which I am involved and they resoundingly backed me.”

The Killing of Tony Blair Screenshot

JB: Having worked with MPs before, I know how time-consuming their job is. Do you think that your 3000+ backers on Kickstarter are having undue influence on your role as a Member of Parliament that nearly 20,000 people elected you to do?

GG: I can already sense where you’re going with this but you shouldn’t address me as if I were like an MP that you know. I wasn’t when I put myself up for election and I’m not now. People in Bradford West elected me knowing the many fields of endeavour in which I am involved and they resoundingly backed me. And one of the main platforms of my election was to bring the war criminals responsible for the Iraq War to justice. And in Bradford West, that’s a burning ambition. People hate Blair with a vengeance in Bradford West, and my role – known now in many places in the world as his nemesis – has mass support.

JB: You’ve talked about how one of the secrets of your victory in Bradford West was the Tony Blair and war issue.

GG: It surprised the pundits. Lots of things surprised the pundits. But one of the things that surprised the pundits was that people don’t regard all this as ancient history. They regard it as something vital to them because they marched, they protested, they did everything that they could within the democratic system to try and force our rulers not to commit this big crime, and they just went ahead and did it anyway…arrogantly assuming that the people had no choice but to re-elect them.

We have departed from common sense economics long ago in this country and entered a fantasy world of financial babble…

George Galloway 2

JB: Do you think that that’s a lesson that UKIP could learn from you? Do you think that they could replicate your kind of shock success?

GG: UKIP is a very interesting phenomenon. These may be famous last words, but I really don’t believe that at the next general election UKIP will have a single MP. They have widespread support but it’s thin and it’s potentially squeezable. I think that the Tories will squeeze it and I think that the Tories started that task at their conference last month. I think that the Tory right turn and the looming possibility that UKIP could split the right wing vote and let Labour in will start to bring UKIP voters back into the Tory column.

JB: Youth unemployment is a particular big issue at the moment – youth unemployment rates are some of the highest they’ve been for quite a long time.

GG: Unemployment – youth unemployment – are necessary consequences of the capitalist model that we follow in this country. And we reject that model. We don’t believe that this is as good as it gets. The model of financial capitalism that we have developed on both sides of the Atlantic – the Anglo-American model of building an economy around financial services and periodic bubbles of house price inflation – can do nothing other than periodically collapse. And every time it collapses the cost to the public of reflating the bubble becomes evermore unbearable. We have departed from common sense economics long ago in this country and entered this fantasy world of computer screens, gambling, hedge fund futures and all the rest of that finance babble.

Young people whom this system has failed are now being singled out to be punished for the failures of an economic system, which they are not even old enough to share the slightest responsibility for.”

Tony Blair

JB: Young people are turning to internships but many of these are unpaid which means people from less well-off backgrounds find them really difficult to access. What’s your view on that?

GG: Well, I myself – before the word had been invented – was an intern with the Labour Party. I got myself in the Labour Party office in Dundee, made myself useful and the rest is history. What I’m more concerned about is the other end, the people that were threatened this week, under 25, with having been cut off out of the benefit system altogether. This brings the possibility of vast numbers of young people becoming literally indigent, wandering the streets – even sleeping on the streets – and the consequent rise in beggary and crime and so on.

Young people whom this system has failed are now being singled out to be punished for the failures of an economic system, which they are not even old enough to share the slightest responsibility for. And the rhetoric around hoodies and street corner anti-social behaviour for the last 20 years, the air has been thick with criminalisation of young people, attempting to make the rest of the public believe that young people were a problem, not a solution.

If the Israelis want to talk about Palestine, the address they should forward their mail to is the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation).”

JB: If I return back to internships, do you think that the fact that so many internships are unpaid is a failure?

GG: Of course, the fact young people even want or have to consider working for nothing for a period represents a failure. I’m just making the point that it’s a failure at, relatively speaking, one end of the spectrum.

JB: Something that made headlines this year was your decision to walk out on an Oxford University debate because you ‘don’t debate with Israelis’. Do you regret that?

GG: No I don’t. No I don’t. No recognition, no normalisation, no negotiation. If the Israelis want to talk about Palestine, the address they should forward their mail to is the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation).

JB: There’s been a lot of talk about you potentially having ambitions to put yourself forward as a candidate for the next London Mayor elections – is that something you’d consider?

GG: I’m seriously considering that. If I do, given that there will be no Boris Johnson, no Ken Livingstone, no big figures in the field, I think I would stand a good chance of winning. I’m sure that Boris won’t be a candidate, I think that he hopes to be leader of the Conservative Party at that time.

Follow George Galloway on Twitter.

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Josh Babarinde

Josh Babarinde

20-year-old student from Eastbourne studying BSc Government at LSE. Actively collaborates on tackling issues involving the youth of the area alongside local Liberal Democrat MP, Stephen Lloyd.


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