28 May 2012

George Galloway - Sectarian

For the second time in three weeks George Galloway has used his column in The Daily Record to attack independence. No problem with that, if that is what he chooses to speak on.  But he is wholly wrong, and miles out of kilter with the vast majority of Scottish socialists, including most of those who campaigned for him in last year's Scottish Parliament elections.

He came, he lost, he learned nothing.

But in today's column, Galloway does more than attack independence. As in his previous Record column, he deliberately introduces the politics of religious sectarianism to advance his case, something no one else in the Unionist camp has done.

Galloway writes that, (in an independent Scotland), "who knows who the finger of ­suspicion would be pointed at? Maybe Scottish Roman Catholics from Irish immigrant stock, with their peculiar ways, names and schools. Why not? It's happened before, Comrade Canavan, hasn't it?"
And it gets worse. In an otherwise predictable attack on independence supporting Brian Souter, Galloway writes;

"I share neither faith nor political values with him

Political values, OK. But what has his faith got to do with anything? And to be clear, they are both Christians - they DO share the same faith. What Galloway is blatantly saying here is that he is a Catholic and Brian Souter is a Protestant. And this is something George Galloway, "socialist", consciously brings up in a newspaper column read primarily by West of Scotland working class people in 2012.

Quite appalling

And appalling too that the Daily Record prints this, even  pays Galloway to write it.

What is going on here?

And will there be an rebuke for the NO Campaign? Will any Scottish journalists raise this matter? Will the Daily Record do the decent thing and drop immediately this sectarian as a columnist

I thought we no platformed fascists and racists in this country?


15 May 2012

George Galloway's Sectarian Disgrace

George Galloway's article in the Daily Record on Monday, 14th May can be summed up in one word - "shameful"

But it requires a more detailed response.

As the master debater, Galloway opens his article by setting up a straw man to knock down, citing unarmed nationalists who attacked him in less than civil terms following an anti-independence interview he gave to the Sunday Mail. So what does Galloway do to temper the debate? Responds with comments which are amongst the most disgraceful yet calculated by a politician this century.

Now let me be absolutely clear: Galloway has every right to comment on and participate in the independence debate. As he points out, he is as Scottish as any of us and has a long standing involvement in political discourse in Scotland and elsewhere. But it is this experience, and indeed detailed understanding of Scotland's political history, that make his comments in his Daily Record article so shameful and insidious.

Because Galloway is an intelligent man, yet he quite deliberately plays the sectarian card. A card no one else has used, and no one else - unionist or nationalist - would be as irresponsible or desperate as to introduce into Scotland in 2012.

Supporters of Scotland's independence are used to being called "separatists" by our opponents. And whilst a pejorative term, fair game in the rough and tumble of political discourse. But in writing in the first sentence of his Daily Record article that he was "arguing the case against the 'partition' of this small island" he took things beyond the pale. Because partition means only one thing in the context of the British Isles, as George well knows. And whilst his article does ask a number of legitimate questions of the case for Independence, throughout it is laced, and quite deliberately so, with the language of sectarianism and related smears.

Let me remind readers of what Galloway then goes on to say in his Record article:

"The idea that if you don't believe in Scotland as a mist-shrouded obscurantist Brigadoon, you're not Scottish at all is a recipe for deep division, akin to that which scarred post-independence Ireland."

So, in case you missed his "partition" smear, Galloway quite explicitly introduces Ireland and with it
The Troubles.

He then gets even worse by suggesting a "hidden agenda" by his critics, stating, "perhaps it's not where I live now, but where my grandparents came from, that scunners these separatist bigots?"

Now to explain, Galloway's Grandparents were Irish Catholics. I need to explain, because few folks know or care, despite Galloway continuous attempts to remind certain people, when playing to particular galleries. But what Galloway says here, in a mainstream national newspaper, is a quite disgraceful, and simply a slur backed up by nothing other than his own bigoted paranoia and populist opportunism: It suits his script, so why let a lack of evidence get in the way?

But he does not even end there. Just in case anyone might have missed that one. He concludes by stating if things went wrong in an Independent Scotland, "The bravehearts, further embittered, would turn on someone, anyone.....Maybe the immigrants, the asylum seekers, maybe even an earlier generation of immigrants from Catholic Ireland (again, like me)"

Now I directly ask. What is Galloway doing here? ( And what is the Daily Record doing publishing?): Over one third of Scots are descended from Irish Catholics, many of whom vote SNP. This is not just a smear against Scotland's largest political party, it is dangerous tribalism all of us in Scotland, from all parties, and on all sides of the constitutional debate, have been working real hard to bring to an end

But here on 14 May 2012, George Galloway, member of Parliament for Bradford West, former MP for a Glasgow Hillhead, a former Chairman of the Labour Party in Scotland , a current "proud" member of the trade union Unite, and a campaigner for a secular, democratic and free Palestine, is quite consciously introducing the politics of sectarianism into the debate on Scotland's constitutional future.

In condemning the unnamed straw men from the nationalist camp, Galloway ends by, throwing down a challenge to Alex Salmond: " If he was a truly national leader rather than merely a schism-master, would slap this kind of nonsense down, but he dare not."

But if Galloway had even been remotely following the debate in Scotland that has been coming to a head since his self imposed exile a decade ago, he would know, (if he cared to find out) that Alex Salmond and the entire SNP leadership has consistently done this and continues to.  Alex Salmond does not need a lecture on bigotry from a sectarian who sat on his hands whilst it raged in the Scottish Labour Party of the 1980s he chaired. And in Ma
y 2011 Salmond's SNP won 69 seats and 45% of the vote, and all available evidence shows no religious bias whatsover in terms of where the party drew its support from. Can Galloway credibly say the same about the paltry 3.3% of votes he polled in Glasgow on that same day?

But I'd like end by throwing Galloway's challenge to Salmond back to the pro-union parties in Scotland, who he now seem so keen to team up with. Will they unequivocally condemn Galloway's sectarian intervention into Scotland's constitutional debate? With they tell him he is not at all welcome if this is to be the tenor of his contribution?. Will they tell him modern day Scots - unionists and nationalists - have left his dated and vile sectarian baggage behind us?

I think they will. And Scotland will be a better place for it.


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