George Galloway pays tribute to Tony Benn

Tony-BennI was a “Bennite” (which became a considerable term of abuse in the 1980s) since the 1960s. I was brought up in a Labour household in which the premiership of Harold Wilson was the sun and in his constellation Mr Benn was the brightest of the many stars clustered around that Labour cabinet. There were so many stars – James Callaghan Roy Jenkins Barbara Castle Tony Crosland Richard Crossman Dennis Healey George Brown – but even in that company, the young, fresh-faced, bursting with ideas Wedgwood-Benn (as he was then known) stood out.

For us he seemed to exemplify the “white-hot heat” of the “technological revolution” – Mr Wilson’s wheeze for disguising his socialist purpose from a hostile media and the “Gnomes of Zurich” who, even then with their financial power had the means of destroying any real Labour government. Mr Benn was brimful of innovative unorthodoxy, and seemed just what the doctor ordered.
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Galloway To Target Tony Blair In Upcoming Documentary

george-galloway_2195375bGeorge Galloway has succeeded in raising over £160,000 via crowdfunding to finance a documentary on Tony Blair - The Killing Of Tony Blair.

Expelled from the Labour Party in 2003 over his opposition to the war in Iraq, Galloway aims to uncover the former prime minister’s role in “destroying the Labour Party” during his time in office, taking Britain into the war in Iraq in 2003, and his career upon leaving office, which has seen Blair amass a substantial personal fortune as an adviser to various global corporations, governments, and on the international speaking circuit.

Crowdfunding has proved an innovative way of raising money to finance movies, art projects, political campaigns, business start-ups, etc via individual donations in return for equity and/or personal satisfaction at helping to fund a good cause or campaign. Rather than seeking large donations from wealthy investors or banks, crowdfunding is a concept geared towards accessing small donations from thousands of individuals instead. It allows projects and campaigns which otherwise would probably never receive funding to be realised, thus lending them a democratic aspect lacking with regard to conventional funding streams.

Through Kickstarter, the world’s largest crowdfunding platform, Galloway raised the budget for his documentary in forty days from over 4000 individual donations, which came in from all over the world. Using Facebook and Twitter to promote the project, the amount eventually raised has far exceeded his initial target of £50,000. In response, the MP for Bradford West announced:

“Kickstarter has triumphantly demonstrated the power of the people and their hunger for justice. You have successfully raised £163,891 over 40 days on Kickstarter. Thank you and I won’t let you down.”

Tony Blair remains a polarising figure in British politics. Accused of being a war criminal by his detractors, he has never accepted that Britain’s role in Iraq was a mistake and continues to deny that he lied to Parliament or the British people in the lead-up to the war, as many have and continue to allege.

Upon leaving Downing Street, he was appointed Middle East Peace Envoy representing the UN, EU, the United States and Russia – collectively known as The Quartet – in trying to foment a last solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Critics, such as Palestinian academic, politician, and legislator, Hanan Ashrawi, have accused the former British prime minister of being ineffectual in the role.

“Frankly speaking,” Ahsrawi said earlier this year, “there are no tangible achievements – apart from maybe his frequent flyer points. Blair has an instinctive sympathy for the Israeli perspective. His first impulse is to present Israel’s point of view.”

In addition to his role as Middle East Peace Envoy, and his various business interests around the world, the former prime minister set up The Tony Blair Faith Foundation in 2008. According to the website it “provides the practical support required to help prevent religious prejudice, conflict and extremism.’

In September 2010, Blair published his memoir A Journey, donating his advance of £4.6 million to a centre for injured British soldiers in a gesture variously described by critics in the media as “blood money”, an act of “desperation”, and a “cynical stunt”.

One man who undoubtedly agrees with those critics is George Galloway, whose opposition to Tony Blair and Britain’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan led directly to the creation of his party, Respect, in 2004. Outlining his objectives with his upcoming documentary, he said:

“In 2003, I was expelled from the Labour Party over my outspoken opposition to Bush and Blair’s war in Iraq. I promised that until the last day of my life I would go on fighting to put Tony Blair on trial, a real trial in The Hague, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. This documentary, the mother of all documentaries, will expose Blair’s crimes.”

He went on:

“This documentary will not be another sterile chronicle of the Blair years. I witnessed his mendacity firsthand and am able to offer you the inside story. I will pull no punches in going toe to toe with those in the upper echelons of New Labour; the likes of Peter Mandelson and Alistair Campbell are all in my sights and so are the big business bankers he consults for. There is no doubt that the debates will be heated. But from that heat will come light.”

The world awaits.

George Galloway: Ed Miliband & me

This post was written by George Galloway for his Red Molucca blog

Secrets are sometimes necessary in politics. So is telling the truth but not the whole truth. What is never acceptable are lies. Especially from the leader of a party still in recovery from a predecessor who may have fatally wounded it by the tower of lies he built along the path which led to a million dead Iraqis and cascading extremism around the world.

Earlier this year the Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband asked me to come and see him in his suite of offices overlooking the River Thames in the Norman Shaw Building in parliament. In fact he asked me again and again. When my diary proved uncomfortably crowded his office tried even harder to make it happen. “Ed is very keen to meet George” says one e-mail.

It’s not that I was avoiding him, in fact I was intrigued as to what this meeting – with no specified agenda – might be about.

In any case I would never refuse to meet any parliamentary colleague, still less the leader of the opposition. Such meetings, often private, are the stuff of politics at Westminster.

And when the leader of the opposition asking for the meeting is the leader of the party I joined when I was 13 years old, served in at every level for 36 years and loved a lot more than the leader Tony Blair who kicked me out of it ever did, it’s obvious I would fit him in. I’ve known many Labour leaders after all.
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The paradox of George Galloway

George_GallowayIt is fair to say that George Galloway is not universally popular.

It is therefore unsurprising that his attendance at a meeting with Ed Miliband was used by the increasingly desperate Blairites as ammunition to undermine the Labour leader. They claimed that Ed Miliband was preparing to welcome Galloway back into the Labour Party.

An article in last week’s Mail on Sunday quotes an unnamed source:

Labour MPs warned their leader against taking such action. ‘Galloway is a traitor,’ said one. ‘It’s naive lunacy for the leader to have anything to do with him. I thought he wanted to get rid of the Red Ed tag. He will rejoin Labour over my dead body.’

Of course, the meeting with Galloway is only one of a number of absurd issues currently being raised by the Blairites to undermine Ed Miliband. As Jon Lansman has remarked at Left Futures:

No sooner had David Miliband announced his departure from British politics than Blair, Mandelson, Milburn and other assorted “grandees“ started to attack his brother, without regard to the impending local elections. Cowardly right-wing shadow cabinet members are briefing anonymously against him on a daily basis too.

The results of the selection process for the short listed London euro candidates is also being challenged, but is about time that the Blairites realised that politics matters, and a candidate like Anne Fairweather who has briefed against extending employment rights to agency workers is not acceptable to many sections of the party, and its supporters.

According to Galloway himself, rejoining the Labour Party was not discussed.
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Galloway’s decision to walk out of a debate with an Israeli speaker was both principled and correct

George Galloway’s decision to walk out of a debate at Oxford University as soon as he realised that the opposing speaker was an Israeli was both principled and correct. It has been deemed controversial only because of the wilful and ongoing denial, prevalent within the British political, media, and cultural establishments, of the fact that Israel is an apartheid state.

The real controversy, and the only j’accuse vis-à-vis Israel that should be levelled, involves those whose cowardice prevents them from not only acknowledging this truth, but worse from acting to end what is by any reckoning the most sustained and systematic injustice inflicted on a people by a state in modern history.
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