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.