FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Born Again! George Galloway Stuns Labor, Shakes Up Britain

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Galloway demanded that Blair be tried as a war criminal, that British troops be withdrawn from Afghanistan without further delay.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.

 

More articles by:

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

September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
John Kendall Hawkins
Boning Up on Eternal Recurrence, Kubrick-style: “2001,” Revisited
Haydar Khan
Set Theory of the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail