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Galloway demanded that Blair be tried as a war criminal, that British troops be withdrawn from Afghanistan without further delay.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:
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail