Sunday, May 01, 2005

Tracey Emin snubs Respect

Pop on to the official site of Respect and you'll find a link to an article by artist Tracey Emin talking about how much she likes living in the East End of London and mentioning that she is "disappointed with Oona King".

The obvious inference is that Emin is backing Respect. We have also heard that some SWP activists have been putting the word around that Emin is indeed supporting George Galloway.

That came as a surprise to us given that Emin has made no secret of how she was sickened by the bully-boy tactics of Galloway campaigners in the past. (See our story here)

Now Emin has been so annoyed by these claims that she has spoken out in a column in the Independent (subscription only):

For the record, for anybody who lives in Bow or Bethnal Green, in fact for anyone in the world, I do not support George Galloway or the Respect Party. And for that matter, at this moment, no particular party.


Respect have been trawling the East End in search of a celebrity endorsement and all they have managed to come up with is a retired Scottish Stalinist.

Hopefully there will be another retired Scottish Stalinist by around 2am on Friday.

No respect for Galloway

Apologies for the lack of posts in recent days. I am sure as many of you are political activists yourself you understand that it is certainly a busy time for us all.

So, lets catch up with the events of the past few days as Respect flood the East End of London with their activists from across the UK. It is increasingly clear that the entire party strategy is (as we predicted) to abandon efforts in other seats and focus on winning Bethnal Green for George Galloway. If the media are to be believed the SWP have a real chance of getting their new friend into parliament.

In the face of intimidation, threats and harassment it is a tough task for democrats in Bethnal Green and Bow. Respect Watch has made clear that our position is not to support any particular party but to urge a vote for a democratic party.

But in Bethnal Green and Bow it is clear that Labour's Oona King is the only candidate who can beat the nationwide campaign to keep Galloway in parliament. We have even recieved encouraging emails from people who normally vote Tory who have decided to back Labour to keep out Respect.

Its going to take a brave and determined effort from King's team to defeat Galloway but lets just recap on the events of the last few days.

The East London Advertiser reported:

1. THREATS of violence have allegedly been made against a veteran Bangladeshi Labour Party supporter by an Asian gang.

Labour Party insiders now fear that gangs around Brick Lane have become politicised by events surrounding the General Election.

Mohammed Abdus Salique claimed that a 10-strong gang, aged between 16 and 25, tried to remove "Vote for Oona King" stickers from inside his shop on Brick Lane.

He also said that the gang told him to support George Galloway or he and his family would be punished.

"They said that they knew where I lived. They said they would attack me and teach me a proper lesson.


2. Galloway makes u-turn on attempt to calm down the campaign as Respect pull out of election 'peace plan'.

Last week Ms King and Mr Galloway both said they were concerned by escalating levels of intimidation and violence in the campaign.

The two candidates sat down with the police and the constituency returning officer to hammer out an agreement which barred inflammatory language and personal attacks.

The meeting went ahead and Oona King believed, until yesterday, that the agreement was still on track.

But the Respect spokesman said Ms King's additional proposal to keep party supporters up to 500 metres from polling stations was "ludicrous".

He said: "The whole thing was a non-starter. The document she has composed has gone into the dustbin of history".

The rejection means that no limits will be set on inflamatory language or the behaviour of supporters.


3. The Times reports:

AN ELDERLY man claims that he suffered a broken nose and wrist and a cut face when he was attacked after refusing to accept an election leaflet from supporters of George Galloway’s Respect party.

Police said last night that they were investigating the reported attack on Les Dobrovolski, 70, in Spitalfields, East London, a week ago.

Mr Dobrovolski said that he refused to accept a leaflet from two young men campaigning for Mr Galloway, who is challenging Labour’s Oona King in Bethnal Green & Bow in a contest dominated by the Iraq war. After saying that he would never vote for Mr Galloway, Mr Dobrovolski said he was followed and pushed to the ground by a man who then stamped on his hand.


4. The Sunday Times reports comments from Galloway's estranged wife:

Speaking from their home in Streatham, south London, Galloway’s wife, a Muslim, said: “I should tell you that when he told me his new party was going to be called Respect, I went upstairs and cried. How can he call it this when he doesn’t even treat his own wife with respect?”


He hasn't treated the democratic process or the people of Bethnal Green and Bow with any respect either. He has failed to condemn the violence and threats in the constituency. He has failed to show even a minimum amount of responsibility and decency and stick to the agreement for a peaceful election campaign.

Galloway should have no place in Parliament. British democracy has a long tradition of rejecting bully-boy politics and we are confident that the people of Bethnal Green and Bow will reject the Socialist Workers Party and their front man.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Playboy

Galloway's appalling record in parliament comes under scrutiny again:

Hain described the Commons attendance of Mr Galloway, who was Labour MP for Glasgow Kelvin until he was expelled from the party over Iraq, as “appalling”.

He said that in his last year as an MP, Mr Galloway missed more than 97% of Commons votes, never spoke in Parliament and did not ask any questions.

Votes he did not take part in included making incitement to religious hatred a crime on February 7, another for the new legislation to control dangerous drugs on February 22 and one to condemn the treatment of Iraqi prisoners on May 17 last year, Mr Hain said.

“He took part in less than three per cent of votes and was often on foreign jaunts,” he added.

“This is the record of a playboy politician.

“It’s the equivalent of working one day a month and then collecting a full pay packet.”

Friday, April 22, 2005

"Ultra-conservative"

Also in the Independent Johann Hari has a long article about Galloway:

This week, Galloway had the look of a man who has been romancing a beast, only to find the beast has raced beyond his control. For several years now, he has been performing political cunnilingus on the most hardline Muslim groups in Britain. Look at the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), whose chief spokesman, Dr Azam Tamimi, says that Arab women "ask for" wife-beating, and believes thieves should be punished by cutting off their hands.

After years of wooing them and adopting their ultra-conservative position on abortion, euthanasia and more, Galloway has coaxed the MAB to urge its supporters to give him "maximum support." He has even adopted the mullahs' line on drugs, attacking King for her "soft" views on cannabis and calling for a "much tougher" war, no matter how many Muslim lives it takes.

Galloway clearly believed this ideology could be used for his political ends. Perhaps now he will see it for what it is: an authentically totalitarian movement capable of extreme violence against democratic politicians.

But would even this realisation stop Galloway stoking and supporting it? The other extraordinary aspect to the fight in Bethnal Green and Bow is that Galloway seems to have given up pretending he was sincerely opposed to Saddam. After describing Saddam's programmes of genocide as "a civil war with massive violence on both sides", Galloway has now called for Saddam's foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, to be released without charge. Not to an international court; just released. "An eminent diplomatic and intellectual person" held "without any justification," was how Galloway described the man he spent a very merry Christmas with in 1999.

Aziz could have defected at any time. Instead, he stayed as one of the leaders of a fascist state. The vast majority of people who opposed the war had no sympathy with Baathism, and I have never met a pro-Saddam Muslim; but for anybody with eyes to see, Galloway's beliefs are now plain. I can understand why many decent people cannot vote for King because she supported the war, even though I don't agree -indeed I am campaigning for her. But why vote for an alternative who seems to be an apologist for even more Iraqis deaths?

I asked Galloway how many Muslims had been murdered by his friend Aziz. The correct answer: even more than have been slaughtered by Ariel Sharon, or by Israel in 38 years of occupying Gaza and the West Bank. Galloway said, "Why don't you go and take some more drugs, you druggie?"

The Bully

Artist Tracey Emin writes in the Independent today and shows that Galloway has a history of bully boy tactics:

I can tell you a little story about George. I have always been hesitant about telling it. But what the hell, here goes. Back in the late Nineties, when Iraq was under sanctions, I quite happily donated a good few bob to George's relief campaign. I'm not sure how they got hold of me, how they found me, but they did.

One day I got a phone call asking if I would give a work of art to be auctioned and all the funds that were raised would go to a little girl named Mariam, who needed urgent medical treatment. I hastily made a drawing titled "Mariam" and stuck it in the post. I tried to follow up and ask if they had received the drawing, but I never heard a word. Until they rang me asking if I would go to Iraq. I told them I couldn't. It was at this point that campaign workers started to bombard me and harrass me, using all sorts of guilt tactics, saying that if I couldn't go, I should pay for someone else to go. In the end I was in tears and told them never to call me again. I wonder what happened to Mariam - and I wonder what happened to my drawing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Livingstone backs King

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, a prominent opponent of the war in Iraq, has shown that Galloway's claim to have the backing of the anti-war movement is untrue.

Livingstone gave his backing to Labour candidate Oona King and criticised Galloway's egoistic approach to politics:

Mr Livingstone, who accompanied Ms King on a visit to the East London mosque in Whitechapel before they had lunch, also criticised Mr Galloway. He said: “I’ve been fighting elections in London for 35 years and this is the first time I’ve had to have a team of police with me.”

He said that although he and Ms King were on opposite sides during the Iraq war debate he was supporting her because she worked “damn hard” for the people of East London.

He said: “You feel that behind all the rhetoric, it’s all about George, it’s always about George.” Mr Livingstone said that if Mr Galloway had wanted to make a stand over the war he should have stood against Tony Blair or Geoff Hoon instead of trying to oust one of Parliament’s few black women.

Video footage

The BBC London website has video footage of the Galloway meeting that he walked out of after facing heckling from extremists who later, are alleged to have threatened him.

The tv news report also shows Respect supporters harassing Labour's Oona King.

More violence in Galloway campaign

The Evening Standard reports today on the continuing ugliness that surrounds George Galloway's campaign in Bethnal Green and Bow.

A group of Islamic fundamentalists attacked Galloway and fought with Respect supporters while the Standard reports that Oona King and Labour Party members were attacked with eggs again with her car also getting attention from the yobs.

One Labour activist, Mohamed Chowdhury, said: "We left the area to chants of "Oona get out' and 'get out of our estate' and were attacked with eggs again. However, when we returned to the car in Toynbee Street we found it covered in eggs. As we got in the car, more eggs were thrown".

Police are investigating. Witnesses claim the youths wore Respect badges...


Galloway's campaign in Bethnal Green and Bow has brought nothing but ugliness, division, racism and violence out on to the streets.

More then ever it is clear that if the people of the area want a decent and responsible MP they should vote for a candidate of a democratic party and reject the intimidation of all extremists - including Respect.

Monday, April 18, 2005

You read it here first

No wonder RESPECT supporters hate this site.

Last week we exclusively brought you the news that George Galloway has been sucking up to Saddam's henchman Tariq Aziz.

Today the London newspaper the Evening Standard, read across Bethnal Green and Bow carries our story - click here to read it.

Recently we highlighted George Galloway's appalling attendance and voting record in parliament and today The Times raises that issue in a fine editorial.

The seat of Bethnal Green and Bow is the sixth poorest in the country and is now home to many voters whose origins lie in Bangladesh but who have made Britain their home. It is also the site of an intense political battle between Oona King, the Labour incumbent, and George Galloway, the out-going MP for Glasgow Kelvin, who was expelled from the Labour Party for his remarks during the Iraq war and found his constituency was abolished by the boundary commissioners.

This contest has, therefore, been portrayed as a referendum on “the war” in a place where many were hostile to it. This is obviously how Mr Galloway would like to frame the question. The electors would be wise to view things differently. The issue here is whether they wish to be represented from the mainstream or the far fringe.

Ms King, who has been the MP since 1997, is an unusual individual. She is black and Jewish in a seat that is becoming more Asian and Muslim. Her initial selection was, thus, controversial locally, yet she responded with vigour and zeal, throwing herself into the defence of her constituents and their interests. Few of her colleagues, including opponents as well as fellow partisans, would deny that she has engaged in parliamentary heavylifting.

She is also an independent spirit. Her views on many policy arguments are some distance to the left of this newspaper. But she has also shown an ability to be pragmatic, for example in championing any approach towards public service reform that will improve the quality of life for the people in her area. Ms King has been consistently principled. She was a founder of the All Party Group on Genocide Prevention in 1998 and called on the Government to do “anything and everything in its power ” to be rid of Saddam Hussein a year later. Her backing for the war in Iraq was not “careerist”.

The contrast with Mr Galloway is instructive. He too has been consistent. It cannot be claimed that he has been pragmatic. He has held the same hard-left outlook — on foreign as well as domestic policy — for decades, irrespective of the revitalisation of the British economy since the 1980s, the collapse of communism and the mounting evidence that the citizens of the Middle East do not see democracy as an imperialist imposition.

In the 2003-04 parliamentary session, Mr Galloway took part in 1 per cent of divisions. His stated reason was that most votes were on government motions or Tory amendments and “I seldom wish to vote for either”. One might have thought that he was itching to oppose all these proposals. Bethnal Green and Bow voters should ask themselves whether he would perform any better on their behalf.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

No spin zone

If you want to know the truth about REPSECT and not the spin from George Galloway's friends in the media read Nick Cohen's column in the Observer.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

EXCLUSIVE: Galloway backs Saddam's bloody deputy

George Galloway recently appear on an Arab television station calling for the release of Saddam Hussein's bloodstained deputy Tariq Aziz.

Tariq Aziz will face charges for the crimes against humanity he committed as part of Saddam's regime. In words which will recall his infamous salute to Saddam, Galloway called him a 'political prisoner' and urged his release.

According to a witness statement to the human rights group Indict:

I saw that TARIQ AZIZ used a medium sized revolver. The victims were all shot at close range of no more than one metre."

"The following persons were informed of all major decisions prior to their implementation...they were informed of the intended attack on Halabja...these included...TARIQ AZIZ..."


Halabja was a crime against humanity with thousands of innocent civilians gassed by the regime in which Tariq Aziz was a leading figure.

Iraqis want Tariq Aziz to face justice and pay for his awful crimes against ordinary Iraqi and Kurdish people.

But speaking on Al-Jazeera television on March 18th Galloway said:

The obvious fact is that Mr Tariq Aziz is a more respectful man than the people who are holding him now. He is viewed with high esteem worldwide by figures like the Pope in the Vatican and other international figures who have valued his counsel, met him, discussed and negotiated with him. He is an eminent diplomatic and intellectual person.


Of course - you did know that Galloway was a friend of this killer? He even enjoyed a nice Christmas dinner in Baghdad with his fellow Christian and attended conferences chaired by the leading Ba'athist.

All facts - check the links. Don't believe Galloway's lies that he had no relationship with Saddam's regime. He is still supporting the killers now.

(Full text of Galloway interview below)




Galloway with Tariq Aziz who is now facing charges of crimes against humanity. The Respect leader told Al-Jazeera that Aziz was "an eminent diplomatic and intellectual person"


Full text of Galloway interview:

British MP Galloway urges release of Tariq Aziz, political prisoners in Iraq


BBC Monitoring Newsfile
English

Text of interview via satellite with British Member of Parliament George Galloway in London, by Al-Jazeera presenter Khadijah Bin-Qinnah in the Doha studio, broadcast live by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 18 March

[Galloway speaks in English with superimposed translation into Arabic, translated from the Arabic ]

[Bin-Qinnah] British Member of Parliament George Galloway has submitted a petition signed by more than 180 renowned international figures. The petition calls for the release of Tariq Aziz, former Iraqi deputy prime minister, and all the political prisoners in Iraq. The petition said that there was no ethical or human justification for the US forces' continued detention of Tariq Aziz, and that the war on Iraq is illegal in the first place.

Now we have British Member of Parliament George Galloway with us from London. Mr Galloway, why was this petition submitted at this time in particular?

[Galloway] Well, it is virtually two years since the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. Mr Tariq Aziz and thousands of political prisoners are still held illegally as hostages by the occupation authorities at the Baghdad Airport, Abu Ghurayb and other places. We think it is time to raise this issue before the international community and call for their release from this illegal detention. The obvious fact is that Mr Tariq Aziz is a more respectful man than the people who are holding him now. He is viewed with high esteem worldwide by figures like the Pope in the Vatican and other international figures who have valued his counsel, met him, discussed and negotiated with him. He is an eminent diplomatic and intellectual person. It is shameful that he is being held in a very poor health and condition and under detention circumstances in which he is almost in total isolation from his family and his friends. It is time to raise our voice against this situation. We have assembled former presidents, prime ministers and ministers, eminent parliamentarians from the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and other personalities from all walks of life who say it is time to release Mr Tariq Aziz and thousands of political prisoners who are illegally held in Iraq.

[Bin-Qinnah] It is clear, Mr Galloway, that you heavily focus on Mr Tariq Aziz. Why do you focus exclusively on Tariq Aziz among many other political prisoners?

[Galloway] Because we are all people who have attended at one time or another the Baghdad Conference, which was an international conference against the sanctions and the war on Iraq. Besides, Mr Tariq Aziz was the chairman of our conference. It is our duty to help the chairman of our conference. At the same time, it is clear in the title and the words of the petition that we are calling for the release of Mr Tariq Aziz and thousands of people held in the Abu Ghurayb prison, the Baghdad Airport and other places. I think it is time for the Arab public opinion to assert itself on this and employ pressure all over the world. In Guantanamo Bay, the Bagram Base in Afghanistan and Abu Ghurayb, the Americans are torturing prisoners and holding them in very bad circumstances and poor health conditions without any justification. As UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, this war was illegal. Nothing legal can come from something illegal. Moreover, the puppet government they have installed in Baghdad has no right to try these prisoners. If the international community says that these prisoners have committed offences under the international law, there are many mechanisms, whether the International Court of Justice or other authorities, through which they can be tried. The group of people which absolutely have no right to hold them and try them are the occupation forces and the puppet government in Iraq.

Source: Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic, 18 Mar 05

The Tasks of a Mercedes (Part Two)

George Galloway may leave his Mercedes well out of view of the residents of Bethnal Green and Bow but as he said on Thursday (see post below) he needs to drive a Merc because it "performs the tasks" other cars can't.

We at Respect Watch have been wondering what 'tasks' Galloway might need this luxury car for?

Perhaps for a quick get away when he is faced with a victim of his pal Saddam Hussein's bloody dictatorship?

This is from a report of an attempt by an Iraqi Kurdish woman tortured by Saddam's secret police murderers to meet Galloway:

For someone who happily consorts with a brutal dictator who has murdered people for just smiling at the wrong time, George Galloway was curiously frightened by a demure Iraqi Kurdish woman last week.

"I am very suspicious of you," George Galloway hissed down the phone to Freshta Raper, a 37-year-old exile and mother of one. "I have a gut feeling about you. What do you want to ask me?"

.....Mr Galloway refused to meet Mrs Raper when she initially asked, through The Telegraph, if he would agree to a formal interview to discuss Saddam's treatment of the Kurds.

So, like all good activists, she went to his Westminster office to question him informally. Mr Galloway ducked down into an underground passage when he saw her waiting and drove off in his Mercedes.


Useful vehicle eh?

By the way, the Kurdish woman finally did get to speak to Galloway on the phone. Here is the conversation:

"I just want to ask you about Saddam Hussein's human rights record," said Mrs Raper. "As a Western politician, have you ever tried to discuss this in Iraq?"

"I don't have to answer that question," said Mr Galloway defiantly, before adding: "Don't you dare contact me again. If you go to my house again I will have you thrown out and call the police."


Would you want a coward like that as your local MP?

Video nasty

George puts on his black shirt for a Respect video - a kind of low budget, cheap and nasty Party Political Broadcast.

Amidst all the lies we did like the scene with the bin men throwing the rubbish in the back of the van and we look forward to Galloway getting the black bag treatment from the voters of Bethnal Green and Bow.

The tasks of a Mercedes

Asked why he drives a Mercedes if he was so passionate in his support of MG Rover, Mr Galloway replied: “I drive a Mercedes because there is no Rover equivalent for the tasks my Mercedes has to perform. I wish there was.”