Ever since the election of Jeremy - and before - there has been whispering that the Gorgeous One, George Galloway will make a triumphant return to Labour. Ever since his expulsion from the party for "bringing it into disrepute" for suggesting that soldiers should disobey orders given by officers, it's no secret that is has held out for a return. That is despite running against the party on a number of occasions, and - in 2005 and 2012 - winning two Parliamentary seats from it. There has always been an uneasy feeling among a section of the membership that a return was never ruled out.
The rumour mill ground out more nervous jitters last week with Ken Livingstone stating that Galloway should be allowed to return. Was he speaking from the heart are indulging some unlicensed kite-flying? No matter, at Monday's PLP meeting, members of that august body stated in no uncertain terms that he shouldn't be allowed back - a position apparently shared by the leader.
Long before the disgraceful campaign Galloway waged in Bradford to try and keep Naz Shah at bay, and his unconscionable comments in support of the rape charge-dodging Julian Assange, at best he was a Marmite figure. Galloway is undoubtedly a man of oratorical gifts and a charisma that charms and rubs people up the wrong way equally, and is capable of soaring triumphs and crashing lows. Witness his bravura performance in front of the US Senate, and how quickly that political capital was pissed away months later. Oh what fun was had watching the SWP twist and turn to defend his Celebrity Big Brother antics - remember, this was before their ugly falling out with everyone else in Respect.
Though why does Galloway inspire fear and loathing right across the left political spectrum, what is it about the man that brings forward a rare united front ranging from (some) Trots to Progress types? Part of it has to be rooted in his highly critical and uncompromising position on Israel, one that does not recognise its right to exist. Just as some Stalinists of old took the mildest criticism of the USSR as blackest blasphemy, so criticising the less savoury aspects of Israeli society - not least the occupation - is beyond the pale for some. But there are plenty of lefties like that (including the leader). What truly inspires a visceral reaction against old Gorgeous is not so much the blindspot toward nominally anti-imperialist movements and dictators, but their whole-hearted embrace. Whether it be chumming up to figures in Ba'athist Iraq, his unapologetic appearances on Iran's Press TV and Russia Today, his opportunistic courting of communalism to get elected, the soft-soaping of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Assad, and effectively putting pluses wherever the Western foreign policy establishment put a minus, for many the values Galloway professes to cherish at home are abandoned when it comes to matters abroad. It makes him look like an opportunist. A charlatan.
There are worse people than Galloway presently in the Labour Party, but worse for entirely different reasons. That said, letting George back into the party sends an entirely wrong message, that it's okay to give enemies of labour movements everywhere a free pass if they're episodically opposing interests set against our own, and - yes - that it's okay to indulge sexist abuse if the cause, in George's case a re-election campaign, is deemed just enough. Galloway is fine where he is. He seems happy doing his thing outside the Labour Party, and we're doing just fine ticking over without him.