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George Galloway: constituency-hopping campaigner who is rarely far from controversy

George Galloway: constituency-hopping campaigner who is rarely far from controversy

George Galloway: constituency-hopping campaigner who is rarely far from controversy
Mar 01, 2024 1 min, 19 secs

Photograph: Phil Noble/ReutersHe made a few local promises – to bring back a maternity hospital, as well as a Primark – but his was essentially a single-issue campaign, fought on Palestine and targeted squarely at the Muslims who make up 30% of Rochdale’s population.

It all felt very familiar to veterans of Galloway’s last byelection win, in Bradford West in 2012, when he was carried aloft from the leisure centre count shouting “All praise to Allah” as a crowd of young Hummer-driving Muslim men chanted: “Viva Palestina!”

The notable exception is the Telegraph, which ended up paying Galloway £150,000 in damages in 2004 after publishing a report claiming documents found in Baghdad during the Iraq war suggested he had received up to £375,000 a year from his old friend Saddam.

Two years later he was suspended from parliament for 18 days after the Commons select committee on standards and privileges found “strong circumstantial evidence” that the UN’s oil for food programme had been used by the Iraqi government with Galloway’s “connivance” to fund the campaigning activities of his charity the Mariam Appeal.

It aimed to soak up disillusioned former Corbynists leaving Labour after its 2019 defeat but ultimately it became a Galloway vehicle, with political foot soldiers provided by the CPGB-ML, a Stalinist far-left group that is tiny in number and came with China links.

The move to sidle up to Beijing was pre-dated by an embrace of Russia, which involved Galloway echoing pro-Kremlin talking points on Ukraine although he threatened to sue what was then called Twitter after the social network labelled his account as “Russian state-affiliated media”.

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