George Galloway has a long record of representing the people of Glasgow, doing so as an MP from 1987 to 2003, before he was expelled from the Labour Party for his opposition to the war in Iraq. He later co-founded the Respect party in England and was elected Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow on an antiwar ticket at the 2005 general election.
Even his enemies cannot deny that Galloway is a political figure of international stature. His annual itinerary of speaking engagements takes him across the globe and sees him fill venues wherever he appears. Known as an unbending opponent of imperialism, colonialism and war, his record as a campaigner is second to none. The Mariam Appeal which he co-founded in 1988 was undertaken to highlight the suffering of the Iraqi people as a result of the sanctions that were crippling the country and which according to UNICEF were directly responsible for the deaths of up to half a million children under the age of five.
Galloway was later accused of profiting directly from the Saddam regime when documents implicating him in corruption surrounding the Oil For Food Program were supposedly found in Iraq after the 2003 invasion by US and British military forces. Galloway brought legal proceedings against both the Daily Telegraph and Christian Science Monitor, which both carried the allegations, and won substantial damages. In 2005 he appeared before a Senate sub-committee hearing in Washington to answer further allegations of impropriety. Not only did he roundly refute the allegations that were put to him, it is universally recognised that in the process he also succeeded in winning a significant moral victory for the antiwar movement.
In 2009 he co-founded Viva Palestina, a pro-Palestinian charity which has since successfully organised five humanitarian aid convoys to the besieged Palestinians of Gaza, each managing to break the siege in the face of determined opposition from both the Israeli and Egyptian governments. In 2010 George Galloway and his close colleague and friend Ron McKay were deported from Egypt after successfully leading an aid convoy comprising 200 vehicles into Gaza. They were both banned from the country.
Galloway was also banned from entering Canada during a North American speaking tour in 2009 by the Canadian government, citing security concerns due to his activities with Viva Palestina. Accused of sponsoring terrorism, Galloway took the Canadian government to court and succeeded in having the ban rescinded. He is currently in the process of suing the Canadian government for damages.
At yesterday’s press conference Galloway described the current crop of MSPs at Holyrood as “stumblebums” and “nonentities” who don’t believe in anything and said “they have no conception of how life-changing politics can be”.
Last week a story appeared in the Herald newspaper that Gail Sheridan was set to stand at the top of a Glasgow list after attempts to persuade George Galloway to stand with her on the same list were spurned. This created a brief period of frisson in the media over the possibility it may have precipitated an acrimonious fall out between George and Tommy Sheridan, who’ve been close friends and supporters of one another for many years.
However an official Solidarity statement which later appeared, recognising Galloway’s record as a political campaigner and in which Tommy Sheridan urged support for Galloway’s candidacy on the part of those voters in Glasgow who feel for whatever reason unable to vote for Solidarity on May 5, confirmed that no such rupture in relations had taken place.
Galloway reaffirmed his continued support for Sheridan in a TV interview and later in his weekly column in the Daily Record.
George Galloway is known to be in favour of a referendum on the issue of Scottish independence but is opposed to the break-up of Britain. He intends standing on what he describes as “real Labour values” and as a determined opponent of the ConDem cuts.