Thu. Apr 18th, 2024
alert-–-from-‘gorgeous-george’-to-‘gaza-george’:-how-firebrand-politician-galloway,-a-former-labour-mp,-put-a-pro-palestinian-stance-at-the-heart-of-his-successful-bid-for-a-shock-return-to-the-commons-for-a-third-different-partyAlert – From ‘Gorgeous George’ to ‘Gaza George’: How firebrand politician Galloway, a former Labour MP, put a pro-Palestinian stance at the heart of his successful bid for a shock return to the Commons for a third different party

George Galloway is the firebrand politician previously known as ‘Gorgeous George’ but who became ‘Gaza George’ as he successfully won over Rochdale voters.

The 69-year-old put his pro-Palestinian stance at the heart of his campaign to be elected in the Greater Manchester constituency.

Despite being a former Labour MP, running against his old party has become a familiar habit for the Dundee-born left-winger.

Having moved from Labour to Respect, Mr Galloway – one of Britain’s most divisive politicians – is now representing the Workers Party of Britain. 

His political allegiance may have changed a number of times over the years, but Mr Galloway has remained faithful to his trademark fedora hat – long a feature of British politics.

George Galloway is the firebrand politician previously known as 'Gorgeous George' but who became ' Gaza George' as he successfully won over Rochdale voters

George Galloway is the firebrand politician previously known as ‘Gorgeous George’ but who became ‘ Gaza George’ as he successfully won over Rochdale voters

The 69-year-old put his pro-Palestinian stance at the heart of his campaign to be elected in the Greater Manchester constituency

The 69-year-old put his pro-Palestinian stance at the heart of his campaign to be elected in the Greater Manchester constituency

Mr Galloway was first elected to the House of Commons as MP for Glasgow Hillhead at the 1987 general election, winning the seat from former home secretary and leading SDP figure Roy Jenkins.

He had joined Labour’s Young Socialists at the age of 13 and was still a teenager when he became secretary of the Dundee Labour Party.

During his first stint in Parliament, Mr Galloway opposed the 1991 Gulf War and was a leading critic of subsequent Western sanctions on Iraq.

He was widely criticised over a 1994 visit to Iraq when he was filmed apparently praising the country’s dictator Saddam Hussein for his courage, strength and indefatigability – although he always insisted his comments were addressed to the Iraqi people. 

Mr Galloway maintained his anti-war stance as tensions between the West and Hussein rose again in the early 2000s.

In August 2002, Mr Galloway travelled to Baghdad to meet again with the Iraqi leader amid the increasing prospect of conflict.

It was his fierce opposition to the subsequent US-led invasion of Iraq, which began in March 2003, that led to him being booted out of Labour.

He was expelled from the party in October 2003 after being found guilty of bringing the party into disrepute. 

The charges against him included inciting British troops to defy orders, and inciting foreign forces to rise up against British troops.

He had accused Tony Blair and George W Bush of acting ‘like wolves’ and urged British troops to disobey their ‘illegal’ instructions.

At the 2005 general election, Mr Galloway – who chose not to stand for re-election again in Glasgow – stunned his old party by taking the safe Labour seat of Bethnal Green and Bow in east London for his new Respect Party.

He claimed Labour’s defeat was ‘for Iraq’ as he unleashed a volley of criticism at then prime minister Tony Blair in his victory speech.

Mr Galloway, pictured at an anti-war protest in 2004, was booted out of Labour amid his opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq

Mr Galloway, pictured at an anti-war protest in 2004, was booted out of Labour amid his opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq

At the 2005 general election, Mr Galloway stunned his old party by taking the safe Labour seat of Bethnal Green and Bow in east London for his new Respect Party

At the 2005 general election, Mr Galloway stunned his old party by taking the safe Labour seat of Bethnal Green and Bow in east London for his new Respect Party

In 2006, Mr Galloway signed up to reality TV show Celebrity Big Brother

In 2006, Mr Galloway signed up to reality TV show Celebrity Big Brother

His appearance become best known for the bizarre moment he mimicked licking imaginary milk from a fellow contestant's cupped hands as he pretended to be a cat

His appearance become best known for the bizarre moment he mimicked licking imaginary milk from a fellow contestant’s cupped hands as he pretended to be a cat

In 2006, Mr Galloway signed up to reality TV show Celebrity Big Brother.

His appearance become best known for the bizarre moment he mimicked licking imaginary milk from a fellow contestant’s cupped hands as he pretended to be a cat.

At the 2010 general election, Mr Galloway opted not to seek re-election in Bethnal Green and Bow but instead stood in the neighbouring seat of Poplar and Limehouse.

He suffered humilitation on election night as he finished third behind Labour and the Tories.

Yet, Mr Galloway was not away from Westminster for long as he made a stunning return to the Commons at a 2012 by-election in Bradford West when he trounced Labour.

He claimed it was ‘the most sensational victory in British political history’ following a campaign in which appeared to have successfully won the support of the seat’s Muslim community.

Labour’s woes in Bradford West did not last as they re-took the seat at the 2015 general election, with Mr Galloway defeated in his re-election bid by more than 11,000 votes.

In his years away from Westminster, Mr Galloway campaigned for Brexit as part of the Grassroots Out campaign before the EU referendum in 2016.

That was the same year he stood for election as London mayor, but he secured just 1.4 per cent of support from the capital’s voters.

Mr Galloway attempted to return to the Commons at both the 2017 and 2019 general elections, but lost as an independent candidate in both Manchester Gorton and West Bromich East, respectively.

In 2021, at a by-election in Batley and Spen mired in claims of intimidation and homophobia, Mr Galloway lost again as a candidate for his new Workers Party of Britain.

Alongside his many election campaigns, Mr Galloway – a father-of-six who has been married four times – has also been a TV and radio presenter.

This has included his controversial hosting of shows on Iranian state-owned Press TV and the now-banned Russia Today.

Mr Galloway was interrogated by a US Senate committee in 2005 in connection with claims he had profited improperly from trading in Iraqi oil, claims he denied in a fiery Senate hearing.

He was later accused by the same committee of lying under oath, which he again denied. 

Mr Galloway made a stunning return to the Commons at a 2012 by-election in Bradford West when he trounced Labour

Mr Galloway made a stunning return to the Commons at a 2012 by-election in Bradford West when he trounced Labour

In 2021, at a by-election in Batley and Spen, Mr Galloway lost as a candidate for his new Workers Party of Britain

In 2021, at a by-election in Batley and Spen, Mr Galloway lost as a candidate for his new Workers Party of Britain

During his by-election campaign in Rochdale, Mr Galloway focused heavily on the Palestinian cause and Gaza amid the current crisis in the Middle East.

He was unrepentant about the chants of ‘From the River to the Sea’ at his campaign rallies in the town, a phrase regarded as anti-Semitic by some

‘But I don’t regard it as anti-Semitic,’ he said. ‘I don’t, so I can say it. This is a free country.

‘I’m in favour of a democratic state for Jews, Muslims and Christians between the river and the sea. You may not like that, others may not like that. But that’s what I believe, and we’ll see if people vote for it.

‘I’m concerned about the blood and flesh that’s being torn apart in Gaza. The feelings someone might have in England about me using the words, ‘River to the sea’ are of much less importance than that.’

Mr Galloway claimed to have negotiated with the owner of a shopping centre in the town to bring Primark to Rochdale and pledged to get maternity service re-opened in Rochdale, issues, ‘nothing to do with Gaza,’ he said.

He also asked about alleged past support for Bashar Al-Assad, dictator of Syria, and it was put to him accusations of his alleged apologism for others with dire human rights records.

He said: ‘Right now, not in Syria, but right now, in Gaza, this minute, children are being killed.

‘That’s whataboutery, I’m not going into that. You could say to me, ‘What about the Congo? What about Ulan Bator?’ You are diverting attention from an actual genocide, happening right now.

‘I reject that. And its whataboutery so I’m not going any further down that road.’