27 comments on “Superb speech from George Galloway during parliamentary debate on Syria

  1. Melatonin on said:

    I wouldn’t say it was a classic intervention from Galloway. Half of his remarks were on the process of how this debate came about. He then launched into a somewhat Islamophobic depiction of the Syrian opposition. I can’t even remember his third point. No, I just checked, it was to support the governments of Russia and China as upstanding members of the international community. That was it. Pretty thread bare on substance.

  2. Melotonin on said:

    John,

    I wouldn’t say the British parliament has completely given up on military action in general. They backed the Libya war not very long ago. It seems two things have come together on this occasion to thwart British involvement. 1. The options on the table on this occasion – very limited airstrikes – were not appealing to all sides as a military objective. What’s the point? 2. The idea of WMD being used as argument struck a nerve. It is confusing on one level because one would have thought some sort of punishment for the use of chemical weapons against civilians would have a constituency, even if the word ‘chemical weapons’ reminded them of Iraq, but this wasn’t quite enough to overcome the bad feelings of this word association. Amazing how psychology works sometimes.

    The question now is whether France, Germany and the US will still believe a point of principle has to be made here, or if they too choose to do absolutely nothing and just allow it to play out. Very interesting days ahead.

  3. Pete Jones on said:

    Hugely important setback for the proponents of British imperialist intervention, this evening, this will echo around the world. The peace movement and the two million who marched against the Iraq war have helped change what is politically acceptable, as have the Iraqi and Afghan resistance to occupation, and the unions for electing a Labour leader who was not an outright ‘imperialist.
    Now we need to go on the offensive and build on this!

  4. Zhivkov on said:

    The low level of rebellion amongst Lib Dem MPs was interesting, at 9/55 Lib Dems it was a parliamentary rebellion rate of 16%. Wonder how that number will chimes with the anti-war grassroots LD voter?

  5. #1 With reference to a previous thread, do you not feel that this superb performance was marred by his reference to the Assadregime?

  6. #7 Or by his demonisation of the said government as being bad enough to launch a chemical weapons attack on its own people?

    Btw I agree wholeheartedly that this was an excellent speach.

    Part of the reason that GG is one of the few figures on the left who is able to command sufficient mass support to get elected to public office is the fact that he can talk the talk as he does here but can also walk the walk, whether into the lion’s den in Washington or as he did at the Rafah Crossing.

  7. Berny272 on said:

    Excellent tactics used by John McDonnell to extend George’s tremendous speech. If only the unity apparent on this issue could be transferred to a broader left we would be able to build a truly viable left i.e. George Galloway Respect, John McDonnell Labour, Lynsey German & John Rees Stop the War, Ken Loach Left Unity, Caroline Lucas Green, Bob Crow TUSC, etc, etc…

    Alas, this will not happen but let’s make hay whilst the sun shines and ensure the West stays out of Syria…

  8. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    Vanya,

    Vanya I usually agree with your comments on here – and very much agree with what you say here about GG walking the walk and his success relative to most of the left – but I wouldn’t say Zaid is all wrong on the Owen Jones article. Sure I wouldn’t oppose unity with Jones in the movement, and I think opposing the war on a purely pro-Assad line would be a big mistake, but the paragraph by paragraph breakdown Zaid gives on the other thread does kinda show it to be a bit of a crap article, not because it includes criticism of Assad but because so much space and emotional intensity are given over to that it can sound almost incidental that Jones opposes Cameron’s aggression too. At least that’s what the breakdown makes it sound like, I haven’t seen a link to the article itself, so I’d be happy to be proven wrong! But given some of Jones’ other positions, not least on GG during the Assange debate, it seems all too likely to me…

  9. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    Anyway on GG’s speech itself, what #1 and #2 said – what a brilliant speech =) A historic speech leading up to a truly historic vote =)

  10. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    And for those of us who follow the details of RESPECT history, how ironic that Jim Fitzpatrick made such a positive anti-war intervention! Between this and of course the Bradford Spring, maybe 2010 really was a blessing in disguise! Even if, as Churchill said to Clemmie, it was very well disguised…

  11. #12 Jones’ article is easily found by going to the Independent website and searching for ‘owen jones’. It’s not what I would have written either, but Zaid is entirely over the top.

    And his description of a speech where the Assad government is characterised as sufficiently ‘bad’ to be capable of the alleged sarin gas atrocity, and is described as a ‘regime’, as ‘superb’ given his attack on Jones for demonisation and his dig at myself for use of the r word is evidence of such inconsistency as to be laughable.

    Jones is weak on certain issues but is an asset for the left. Wannabe Lenins like Zaid are a self-righteous irritant, particularly when they can’t even be consistent in their sectarianism.

  12. Jellytot on said:

    Vanya: #1 With reference to a previous thread, do you not feel that this superb performance was marred by his reference to the Assad regime?

    I don’t think it marred the speech for two reasons….one….it’s the truth (the Baathist regimes in both Syria and Iraq were/are vicious….they had/have real support in the populace but you don’t stay in power for decades in Middle Eastern countries without viciously suppressing internal dissent at times) and secondly the reference made GG’s speech all the more powerful.

    P.S. Wasn’t it Alexi Sayle who once refered to Syria as “East Germany with Hummus” ?!

  13. Jellytot on said:

    Melatonin:

    He then launched into a somewhat Islamophobic depiction of the Syrian opposition.

    I viewed Judith Orr on Youtube at the (awful) Marxism 2013 meeting on Syria making this same charge….”Against the Syrian Opposition? You’re Islamophobic!”

    I’m sorry….It’s just bollocks!

  14. Stephen on said:

    Credit where its due .. there were a lot of very good speeches, some from the most unlikely quarters. Gerald Kaufman’s for example.

    and I was taken aback when I heard this …

    “Where was the world’s policeman in 1985 when Iran was under sustained attack from chemical weapons? It suited the west to support Iraq in that situation. Why did we allow the world’s policeman to weaponise white phosphorus? When white phosphorus contacts the skin and burns as it oxidises, it burns right down to the bone. If that is not a chemical weapon, what is? Why is the world’s policeman allowing the USA to sell cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia? The point about cluster bombs is that they continue to kill and maim children long after the combatants have left the field. We need to be very clear. Why is the world’s policeman not calling a coup a coup in Egypt? These are the kinds of issues that cause burning resentment across the middle east, with good reason. It is time that we let the Arab League come to a regional solution, if we are going to achieve lasting peace.”

    “To be wary of war is not to stand idly by, but a realistic appraisal of the risks and learning from past experience. The British people are not standing idly by; they are delivering humanitarian aid, but they do not feel that humanitarian aid from the west is best delivered in the form of a cruise missile.” Dr Sarah Wollacott , Conservative Totnes

  15. stephen marks on said:

    As I recall, Sarah Wollacott was the first Tory candidate to be chosen by a primary, back in the day when Cameron was trying to promote a ‘progressive’ image for the Tories. Since then she has been consistently independent, and I gather is the main reason why primaries for Tory nominations have been dropped…

  16. Stephen on said:

    … a Westminster based pal tells me she is very anti – alcohol which limits my enthusiasm for her almost as much as her party membership. But It was a very good speech.

  17. #16 To be clear, I was taking the p*** out of someone who had a go at me for using the term regime, but didn’t seem to be bothered about GG doing the same.

    I have no problem with GG saying it and reiterate that this was a great speech.

  18. #20 It was a great speech based on the quote above. Funnilly enough George Galloway also isn’t keen on the thief that you put in your mouth which steals your brains.

    I admit to being rather too keen on it, so I tend to respect teetotlers.

  19. Melotonin on said:

    Jellytot,

    You don’t think reducing the entire Syrian opposition to head choppers of Christians and heart eaters has an Islamophobic tinge to it?

    Can you remember the last conflict where all nationalist opposition forces were lumped into that group?

  20. Vanya: With reference to a previous thread, do you not feel that this superb performance was marred by his reference to the Assad regime?

    and

    Vanya: Or by his demonisation of the said government as being bad enough to launch a chemical weapons attack on its own people?

    Not at all Vanya.

    You have to look at the speech as a whole and the context in which it was delivered. Bear in mind this was not at public meeting full of his own supporters. George confronted the warmongers face-to-face live on television and delivered a resoundingly powerful anti-imperialist message – using language which did not accept for a moment the carefully manufactured pro-imperialist narrative but was completely comprehensible to listeners and viewers. Of course I’m not going to quibble over a word or two. Clearly, the Syrian government would be capable of using chemical weapons (as probably would all other governments in the world). The point George was so eloquently emphasizing was that it would be against it’s own objective interests deliberately to do so, and that there are good grounds for being sceptical that it did. (Of course, there is an additional point that even if it did, we should not support imperialist aggression.) There is nothing to criticize.

    My question to you about the use of the word regime was idle curiosity. In the British media, Western countries and other countries friendly to the west are said to have “governments” or “administrations”, whereas countries to which the West is hotile are said to have “regimes”. The way the words are used, “government” or “administration” implies some kind of legitimate or normal state of affairs, whereas “regime” hints at something sinister or unsavoury. It is clear why the bourgeois media uses this kind of terminology. I was just curious why you do.

    Marxist Lenonist: Sure I wouldn’t oppose unity with Jones in the movement, and I think opposing the war on a purely pro-Assad line would be a big mistake, but the paragraph by paragraph breakdown Zaid gives on the other thread does kinda show it to be a bit of a crap article, not because it includes criticism of Assad but because so much space and emotional intensity are given over to that it can sound almost incidental that Jones opposes Cameron’s aggression too. At least that’s what the breakdown makes it sound like, I haven’t seen a link to the article itself, so I’d be happy to be proven wrong!

    This is the link Marxist-Lenonist http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/for-the-syrians-sakes-and-for-our-own-we-must-not-intervene-8784220.html

    Of course, your assessment of it may be different to mine. I agree with you about Jim Fitzpatrick – it was very pleasing to see.

    Vanya: It’s not what I would have written either, but Zaid is entirely over the top.
    And his description of a speech where the Assad government is characterised as sufficiently ‘bad’ to be capable of the alleged sarin gas atrocity, and is described as a ‘regime’, as ‘superb’ given his attack on Jones for demonisation and his dig at myself for use of the r word is evidence of such inconsistency as to be laughable.

    By all means laugh, but I don’t think I am being inconsistent. Seriously Vanya, read Jones’ article and watch George’s speech once again and tell me with a straight face they are comparable. You could even try comparing Jones’ article with Dr Sarah Wollaston’s speech (Conservative MP, quoted by Stephen #18 above). You may find it educational.

    Vanya: Jones is weak on certain issues but is an asset for the left. Wannabe Lenins like Zaid are a self-righteous irritant, particularly when they can’t even be consistent in their sectarianism.

    On your first sentence all we can do is disagree (at least with its second half). On the second sentence, I’m not sure what you mean by a wannabe Lenin or what I have said to provoke the comment. However, for the record, I do not believe much of what Lenin said or did is useful for informing what we should be doing today. That is because his situation, and the problems he was trying to grapple with, were quite different from our situation and the problems which confront us today. Unlike most of the rest of the Left, I do not believe I have most of the answers. That may make me “self-righteous” but, if so, it’s a very strange kind of self-righteousness. I accept your use of the term “irritant” may well be accurate – clearly I seem to have irritated some people, including you. On the last point, I feel I’m being entirely consistent in what you call my “sectarianism” (although I would not use that term).

    Vanya: Part of the reason that GG is one of the few figures on the left who is able to command sufficient mass support to get elected to public office is the fact that he can talk the talk as he does here but can also walk the walk, whether into the lion’s den in Washington or as he did at the Rafah Crossing.

    On this I agree with you completely. George really is an enormous asset to the Left.

  21. lone nut on said:

    Zaid,

    I find it a useful rule of thumb in distinguishing “regimes” from “governments” the fact that the former do not generally lose parliamentary votes on crucial issues, such as plans to take their country to war. Also the rulers of regimes are generally not “confronted.. face to face live on television” by dissident deputies in the national assembly. But I am sure Zaid can provide us with examples of such incidents taking place in Syria.

  22. I think Melotonin would have a point were it not for the fact that he/she obviously comes from a tradition that has been continuously banging on about ‘clerical fascists’ to justify every act of imperialist mass murder and intervention. Yet now they suddenly find themselves in the camp of the ‘clerical fascists’ they have miraculously come to embrace the women hating, gay hating ‘clerical fascists’!

    These people twist and turn like a twisty turny thing.

    I am sure when he is ready to castigate ‘Clerical facsism’ again Melotonin will simply change his name and comment about the dangers of the dangerous women haters, and the need for them to get a good drubbing.

  23. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    Well, media workers who criticise the AKP in Turkey can lose their jobs or even be jailed. Indeed Turkey leads the world or is at least in second place for jailing media workers, which has turned the Turkish media, with a few exceptions, into an AKP microphone and mouthpiece. And Erdogan is not used to difficult questioning from journalists, as became clear during the Gezi events. But it is unusual to talk about the “Erdogan regime”.

    lone nut:
    Zaid,

    I find it a useful rule of thumb in distinguishing “regimes” from “governments” the fact that the former do not generally lose parliamentary votes on crucial issues, such as plans to take their country to war. Also the rulers of regimes are generally not “confronted.. face to face live on television” by dissident deputies in the national assembly. But I am sure Zaid can provide us with examples of such incidents taking place in Syria.