Just Say Naw to George Galloway

Jalal Abukhater is a 2nd year Palestinian student and is a member of Dundee University Radical Independence society. This article first appeared in National Collective on 16th October.

You may ask, why bother giving any attention to this man? And I get where you’re coming from. But George Galloway still matters.  The mere fact that the BBC sees him suitable to debate Scottish Independence on a BBC Question Time panel, and the fact that he is going on an anti-Independence speaking tour in November; proves that this man still matters. Because of his outspokenness on the Middle East (especially Palestine), and me being a Palestinian myself, I felt the need to personally write about him to say a few things. He may be your anti-war superstar, your personal brave and righteous politician, but George Galloway is not to be bought wholesale; you should take everything he says with a pinch of salt. What motivates me to write this now, are two things: the first being Galloway’s tendency to use Syria’s conflict to promote anti-independence arguments, and the other is Galloway’s announcement of his own “Just Say Naw” speaking tour in Glasgow, Dundee, and Aberdeen.

A few months ago, when Galloway wrote the hideous anti-independence blog article during the Nigel Farage affair, I felt that the referendum debate shouldn’t give much attention to baseless narrow-minded arguments, like the ones Galloway presented. In his article, Galloway insinuated that in an independent Scotland, the Scots will see the English as Fifth Column traitors. He claimed that the Scots will turn against the Catholics, and be hateful towards “the immigrants, brown as well as white who would be ‘taking our jobs’, ‘our houses’, ‘marrying our women’ and the rest” in his own words. I only mention a small part of the baseless scaremongering Galloway used to voice his anti-independence opinion. However, National Collective’s own Dan Paris wrote an excellent response to Galloway at the time, it can be read here.

On twitter, where George Galloway communicates mostly with the internet world, he only interacts with those who support what he has to say, but he immediately shuns and blocks anyone who disagrees with him. If you criticise his Scottish referendum arguments, or his misogynistic arguments, or even his arguments in support of the Syrian Al-Assad regime, you’re just instantly blocked by this man who doesn’t wish to listen to what you have to say. His refusal to interact with the opposing opinion virtually on twitter does indeed reflect on him in real life. Personally, this dogmatist attitude is something I wish the independence debate would avoid; it should focus on useful and constructive debate instead.

This is the same man who wishes to go on a tour in November across Glasgow, Dundee, and Aberdeen, for a “Just Say Naw” talks. Ticket price for those events is £12. Just like on twitter, Galloway wishes to preach during his “Just Say Naw” tour to his own choir only. He expects his audience to be people who could personally afford paying £12 to meet him. While the referendum debate matters the most to Scotland’s poor – they will be excluded from this supposedly educational tour. Just how Bradford’s Respect councillors’ resignations showed Galloway’s choosing of self-interest over the public’s interest, same seems to be happening in the referendum debate as Galloway seems to go for money/publicity factors rather than reaching out to Scotland’s vulnerable and willing to help seek a better future.

I was not surprised when I found out Galloway has also been attempting to exploit the Syrian conflict for his arguments on Scotland and the Union. The latest thing I noticed, on twitter, is when he said on the 31st of August: “Point of information; if Scotland had left the Union, England would now be going to war with Syria”. Apparently Galloway has been out of the loop on how ineffective the Scottish voice in the UK has been in the last few decades; he doesn’t seem to have a clue of how powerless Scottish MPs were in affecting decisions made in West Minister -with latest example being the Bed Room Tax. Statements like this, made by Galloway, are usually baseless and are purposed to instigate open-ended argument without having to draw on actual facts at all. Independence, on the other hand, actually serves Scotland and England better in this case. The Scottish Parliament, if independent, will have heavier weight on the region’s foreign policy, instead of adhering to foreign policy dictated by MPs in Westminster.

I do agree that Western Intervention is not good for Syria, but I can’t stand hearing all what Galloway has to say on the same topic. Just a few weeks ago, Galloway insinuated in a tweet that the death of approx. 1500 Syrians in Chemical attack is “Transparently miserably fake”. When a fellow twitter user criticized this statement, he was attacked and insulted by Galloway using the words: “foul-mouthed, feminist cretic”. You don’t want to listen to a man talking about Scotland’s future who not only sees rape as “bad sexual etiquette”, but also uses “feminist” as an insult.

George Galloway, a man I once admired for what he has said and done for Palestine, is unfortunately a man who is not afraid to speak his mind, but afraid to listen to what others have to say. Everyone, especially those in a position of power, have a duty to stand up against injustice. But no matter whom that person is, none should be idealized and bought wholesale. I wished that I, or any other person with different opinion, could engage with Galloway on matters like the referendum on Scottish Independence; but unfortunately £12 entry fees to his talks, refusal to engage online and random insults does not help. I write this today, hoping that people realize this is a time to discredit voices nourished by negativity and bigotry. Rather, in a time the debate on Scotland’s future intensifies on all sides, it is time to push forward with the positive, progressive and lively debate that this major referendum actually deserves.

Jalal Abukhater

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