FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Born Again! George Galloway Stuns Labor, Shakes Up Britain

by TARIQ ALI

London

George Galloway’s stunning electoral triumph in the Bradford by-election on Thursday 29th March has shaken the petrified world of English politics. It was unexpected and for that reason the Respect campaign was treated by much of the media (Helen Pidd of The Guardian an honorable exception) as a loony fringe show. The BBC toady, a shamelessly partisan compeer on a local TV election show, who tried to mock and insult Galloway should be made to eat his excremental words.

The Bradford seat, a Labour fiefdom since 1973, was considered safe and the Labour Leader, Ed Miliband, had been planning a celebratory visit to the city till the news seeped through at 2 am. He is now once again focused on his own future. Labour has paid the price for its failure to act as an Opposition, imagining that all they had to do was wait and the prize would come their way. Scottish politics should have forced a rethink. Perhaps the latest development in English politics now will, though I doubt it.  Galloway has effectively urinated on all three parties. The Lib-Dems and Tories explaining their decline by the fact that too many people voted!

Thousands of young people infected with apathy, contempt, despair and a disgust  with mainstream politics were dynamised by the Respect campaign. Galloway is tireless on these occasions. Nobody else in the political fields comes even close to competing with him. Not simply because he is an effective orator though this skill should not be underestimated. It comes almost as a shock these days to a generation used to the bland untruths that are mouthed every day by government and opposition politicians. It was the political content of the campaign that galvanized the youth: Respect campaigners and their candidate stressed the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Galloway demanded that Blair be tried as a war criminal, that British troops be withdrawn from Afghanistan without further delay.  He lambasted the Government and the Labour Party for   the ‘austerity measures’ targeting the less well off, the poor, the infirm and the new privatizations of education, health and the post office.  It was all this that gave him a majority of 10,000.

How did we get here? Following the collapse of communism in 1991, Edmund Burke’s notion that “in all societies, consisting of different classes, certain classes must necessarily be uppermost” and that “the apostles of equality only change and pervert the natural order of things”, became the common-sense wisdom of the age. Money corrupted politics, big money corrupted absolutely. Throughout the heartlands of capital we witnessed the emergence of effective coalitions: as ever, the Republicans and Democrats in the United States; New Labour and Tories in the vassal state of Britain; Socialists and Conservatives in France; the German coalitions of one variety or another with the Green’s differentiating themselves largely as ultra-Atlanticists, the Scandinavian centre-right and centre-left with few differences, competing in cravenness before the Empire.

In virtually each case the two/three-party system morphed into an effective national government. A new market extremism came into play. The entry of capital in the most hallowed domains of social provision was regarded as a necessary “reform”. Private finance initiatives that punished the public sector became the norm and countries (such as France and Germany) that were seen as not proceeding fast enough in the direction of the neo-liberal paradise were regularly denounced in the Economist and the Financial Times.

To question this turn, to defend the public sector, to argue in favour of state ownership of utilities, to challenge the fire sale of public housing, was to be regarded as a dinosaur.

British politics has been governed by the consensus established by Mrs. Thatcher during the locust decades of the 80’s and 90’s. Once New Labour accepted the basic tenets of Thatcherism (their model was the New Democrats embrace of Reaganism). These were the roots of the extreme centre that encompasses both centre-left and centre-right exercises power, promoting austerity measures that privilege the wealthy and backing wars and occupations abroad. President Obama is far from isolated within the euro-American political sphere. New movements are now springing up at home, challenging political orthodoxies without offering one of their own. Little more than a scream for help.

Respect is different. It puts forward a left social-democratic programme that challenges the status quo and is loud in its condemnation of imperial misdeeds. In other words it is not frightened by politics. Its triumph in Bradford should force some to rethink their passivity and others to realise that there are ways in which the Occupiers of yesteryear can help break the political impasse.

TARIQ ALI’s latest book “The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad’ was published by Verso.

 

Tariq Ali is the author of The Obama Syndrome (Verso).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 19, 2017
Melvin Goodman
America’s Russian Problem
Dave Lindorff
Right a Terrible Wrong: Why Obama Should Reverse Himself and Pardon Leonard Peltier
Laura Carlsen
Bringing Mexico to Its Knees Will Not “Make America Great Again”
John W. Whitehead
Nothing is Real: When Reality TV Programming Masquerades as Politics
Yoav Litvin
Time to Diss Obey: the Failure of Identity Politics and Protest
Mike Whitney
The Trump Speech That No One Heard 
Conn Hallinan
Is Europe Heading for a “Lexit”?
Stephen Cooper
Truth or Twitter? Why Donald Trump Is No John Steinbeck
Binoy Kampmark
Scoundrels of Patriotism: The Freeing of Chelsea Manning
Ramzy Baroud
The Balancing Act is Over: What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel
Josh Hoxie
Why Health Care Repeal is a Stealth Tax Break for Millionaires
Kim C. Domenico
It’s High Time for a Politics of Desire
Shamus Cooke
Inauguration Day and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
More and More Lousy
David Swanson
Samantha Power Can See Russia from Her Padded Cell
Kevin Carson
Right to Work and the Apartheid State
Malaika H. Kambon
Resisting the Lynching of Haitian Liberty!
January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Ajamu Baraka
Celebrating Dr. King with the Departure of Barack Obama
David Underhill
Trumpology With a Twist
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump, It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail