George Galloway has been MP for Bradford West since 2012. This week, he faces a challenge from Naz Shah, a radical, credible candidate with an extraordinary and inspiring story. I wish her success in this election. Why?
1. Galloway does not serve the people of Bradford. From the moment of his victory in what he called the "Bradford Spring", when he tweeted about his "Blackburn triumph", it was clear he couldn't give a monkeys about his new constituency (later attempting to make out he was hacked by tweeting "Nice try. Password now changed").
As far as I can tell from his Hansard record, he has mentioned Bradford once in parliament over the last year, while regularly mentioning Iraq and Palestine. His
2. Galloway is basically a part-time MP. Although his links to his constituency are tenuous outside of election season, maybe he claws back a bit of time for Bradford by rarely turning up in Westminster. This year he's spoken in just four debates and attended just a tenth of votes. On the other hand, he spends a lot of time in Beirut, where he is a TV star. He is, in fact, the third highest-earning MP in parliament. (The last prime minister is the highest earning, but gives it all to his charitable foundation. The other high earners are all Tory businessmen. Unsurprisingly, MPs who earn the most from second jobs statistically "speak in fewer parliamentary debates, submit fewer written questions and miss more votes than other MPs".)
3. Galloway is a shill for dictators. So, what is he doing when he should be in Bradford or Westminster? Mainly, he is appearing on TV stations owned by authoritarian regimes: Iran's Press TV; the Kremlin-run RT (formerly Russia Today - on which see Nick Cohen, Oliver Bullough, James Bloodworth); and the Lebanon-based Al Mayadeen, which is politically supportive of Assad's murderous regime in Syria and is linked to Hezbollah (in fact, some claim it is owned by a cousin of Assad). These stations are not just based in authoritarian countries; they are PR mouthpieces for authoritarian regimes. Not only do they systematically distort the truth in the geopolitical interests of these extreme right-wing regimes, but they also regularly host Holocaust revisionists, 9/11 deniers, British fascists and other cranks. Galloway's politics fit in well with this; in a period when Assad's government, backed by Iran and armed by Russia. has slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians, Galloway has remained silent and actually used his scarce time in parliament to table a motion about a brief Israeli incursion into Syria claiming "dozens" of lives.