Sunday 28 February 2021

George Galloway: I'm Voting Tory

A putative leftist voting Tory? What kind of mixed up place is this? Welcome to the convoluted world view of Labourist unionism as manifested by our old friend George Galloway. Getting himself trending on the Twitter, he announced to the interested how he'll be voting Tory in the constituency section of the coming Holyrood elections. This is followed by a punt for his Alliance for Unity vehicle, itself an ego mobile and a popular frontist, um, front for his Stalin-worshipping Britnat sect, the Workers Party of Britain. To think he has the chutzpah to call others out for abandoning socialist ideas.

The politics of this aren't hard to fathom, but they might seem weird for comrades unfamiliar with the Scottish scene. Scottish Labour, despite dalliances with Home Rule and being the party of the Holyrood devolution settlement, is a thoroughly unionist party. In the post-war period the might of the labour movement rested on the Scottish economy being fully integrated into the UK's, and the Keynesianism practiced by successive Westminster governments more or less maintained full employment. Labourism which, among other things, is the spontaneous empiricist mindset of the workers' movement therefore identified its prosperity with the union and the necessity to return Labour governments to govern for them. As the post-war order fell apart and along came Thatcher's governments with a new settlement of their own, the Tories dismantled the material and institutional base for unionism. Politics lags behind economics so the old teachings go, and by 2007 the success of the SNP at Holyrood put the establishment on notice. They didn't listen and thanks to Labour's cretinous behaviour in the independence referendum, almost torched its entire base. What remained of Labour vote was old, nostalgia-tinged, and mourning for a unionist settlement long dead.

George Galloway was schooled in the politics of Labour unionism when it meant something, and imbided a commitment to the UK state (and a certain soft spot for the Queen) - along with the usual left (statist) commitments to nationalisations, trade union rights, public housing, etc. His animus against separatism and Scottish nationalism is hard wired into his political DNA. Therefore what he is expressing is merely Scottish Labourism. Because it locates its (class) politics as a supplicant to the UK state, then this (small l, but often big L) loyalism is the anchor point for politics. Because the Tories, as the traditional ruling class party, unsurprisingly identify with their state the common ground between Labour and the Conservatives (and the Liberal Democrats) on the state trumps the divisions between them. Their common enemy is the SNP and any other nationalist party. Hence, in the recent past, we've seen leading Scottish Labour figures call for tactical votes for the Tories because, believe it or not, they are the lesser evil.

This politics is utterly bankrupt. For all the giddy Galloway goading of Scottish nationalism, Labour loyalism overlooks British nationalism and how its politics disrupts and disperses the possibility of (re)founding the party on class politics. One of the contenders in Scottish Labour's leadership election recognised this (in part), but then Monica Lennon didn't win. Nor does Galloway appear to understand the first thing about class and class politics in Scotland. If he did, he wouldn't be buddying up with Tories for a start.

Then again, the Galloway project has always been about him and his notoriety. He happily foxtrotted across the class line by aligning with Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party, enjoyed cosy "debates" with Steve Bannon and, how could we forget, jumped on the Donald Trump train and called November's election result "a coup". This is sans the well-documented fondness for certain strongmen who incur the displeasure of the US State Department.

There are going to be people very disappointed in Galloway's positioning, particularly those who've signed up to his "left wing alternative" to Labour. I suppose for some the red, white, and blue branding, the explicit "anti-woke" politics, and the repugnant Stalinophilia weren't warning enough. Galloway and his politics might belong to a bygone age, but the "leftist" British nationalism he's taking to its logical endpoint is not his political make up alone: it's in the genetics of Scottish Labour too. And for as long as it clings to this pitiful, declining tradition, the party is doomed.

Image Credit


David Lindsay said...

Of course George Galloway will be voting for his Conservative constituency MSP, and for the All for Unity list with himself on it, in order to defeat Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. He has long advocated a vote for the best placed anti-SNP candidate and for that list.

But oh, the shrieking. "The Tories! The Tories! The Tories!" Well, I hate to have to tell you this, but that one lost its power to frighten a long time ago, during a three-term Labour Government that was more right-wing than the Tories. The miners, you say? If the Labour Party had not betrayed them, then the miners would have won. And in the present day rather than in the fairly distant past, Labour is about to vote against a Conservative Government's very modest increase in corporation tax. But keep running along the Red Wall screeching, "The Tories! The Tories! The Tories!" And wondering why today you were on 36 points to their 43, enough to devastate your municipal base on 6th May.

That brings me to the greatest regret of my quarter-century, now concluded, in electoral politics. In 2016, I should have thought to ask George to contest Chester-le-Street West Central at the elections to Durham County Council in 2017. That could have been arranged, and of course he would have won, depriving the Leader of his seat. Look what they did to me for it, and what they are still doing, but in 2017 I advocated voting for the best placed candidate to defeat Labour in each ward of Durham County Council. Had people done that, then the Teaching Assistants would have won. The Independents and the Liberal Democrats had voted for the Teaching Assistants, while the Conservatives had abstained. The monumental wrong against them had been perpetrated solely by the Labour Party. But "The Tories! The Tories! The Tories!" And people wonder why I am never going to contest another election to anything.

Anonymous said...

Traditionally Scottish Labour has been Stalinist.
True or false?

Unknown said...

Never mind the content for a moment. Why are so many articles like this written in a pseudo philosophical, "look how educated I am" style, with an overabundance of adjectives and unusual words that merely serve to obfuscate the point?

Phil said...

How funny.

Bangs on about "unusual words"

Writes obfuscate.

There is nothing in this piece that requires head scratching. And if you don't like the style there are plenty of other boring writers to choose from.

Jim Denham said...

Galloway's politics have always been a bizarre combination of Stalinism, power-worship (especially re various "strongman" leaders), social conservatism, and obsessive hatred of Israel and "Zionism". This has allowed him to chum up with (at various times) the SWP and especially its Reese- German former leadership, the Morning Star, Farage and now ... the Tories. You've written a good take-down of him,Phil: now its up to his former supporters/apologists on the left to explain how they were taken in by the charalatan (but no-one should hold their breath: the SWP and Counterfire are not noted for admitting mistakes or accounting for themselves).

akram said...

Labour is dead in Scotland, and will be dead in the whole of the UK, K Starmer smashed the Labour party into bits, the party become a spitting image of the Israel labour part which now become insignificant right wing political party, the british Labour party has no future and will never win an election why anyone want to vote a right wing Labour while Britain has the right wing Conservative party.

DFTM said...

"and obsessive hatred of Israel and "Zionism"."

Or to put it another way, Galloway has been a long time supporter of the Palestinians in their struggle against the systematic dispossession, sadism, barbarity and oppression by successive Israeli governments.

Which of course is what Denham really hates about Galloway and to a arch pro imperialist like Denham any criticism of Israel is excessive and to be purged from civil society. lets ban all Ken Loach films right!

I guess Denham is that bizarre combination of pro imperialist, pro carpet bombing, pro Israeli racist apartheid and social chauvinist who somehow thinks he can claim to be a leftist.

This of course all springs from his utterly bizarre idea that capitalist bourgeois liberalism can exist in all places and all societies all at the same time. When the reality of course is that the dominant imperialist powers over-exploit weaker nations for their precious earth materials and labour resources. And in actual fact it is impossible for bourgeois liberalism to exist everywhere and moreover Islamic fundamentalism is just as much a product of capitalism as is, bourgeois liberalism.

Denham would have us believe that only through liberalism can you get communism, I would almost say the opposite and furthermore Denham may as well say only through liberalism do you get ISIS. And he still supports neo liberalism in all its manifestations, yet rails against ISIS as if it has nothing to do with the thing that he so enthusiastically supports!

Galloway is a fool if he thinks voting Tory is ever a good idea, but bizarre, that is Denham through and through, with a large twist of mendacity.

It should also be pointed out that this article doesn't engage with Galloway's reasoning at all and is not even a semi serious attempt to get to the heart of the matter. You have simply used the article for Galloway bashing, using some of your viewers prejudiced preconceptions.

I mean hands up who guessed that Denham would pop along with the lazy Stalinism term. We just need Boffy to come along and say Demagogue and I can claim house in the Galloway bingo game!

It is all rather pathetic really.

Anonymous said...

David Lindsay makes a good point actually, by supporting the Labour party PhilBC is supporting the Tories in all but name!

There is so little difference between the Tories and Labour that this, shock horror look at what Galloway is doing, is more than a little ironic.

Of have I been misinformed, has PhilBC now resigned from the Labour party?

If not, seriously shut up, just shut up.

JN said...

Jim Denham,

More to the point in this instance is Galloway's obsessive hostility to the SNP and to Scottish independence (which, it should be noted, are not the same thing).

But, yes, the man is a fucking clown and his politics are all over the place. If he's willing to endorse the Tories and Nigel Farage, where does he draw the line?

More broadly, if Labour ever wants to rebuild its support in Scotland, step 1 is to accept that Scottish independence is within the realm of legitimate political opinion, and engage with the Scottish electorate on that basis. A lot of support for Scottish independence comes from the left and has little to do with Scottish nationalism as such, but is more motivated by despair that any positive change is possible in the existing UK.

JN said...

To me, as a working class socialist from Glasgow, there are two arguments against Scottish independence:

1) A Labour (or other major British left-wing) Party worth supporting.
2) A realistic prospect of constitutional reform of the existing UK.

Neither of those currently exist, or are likely to.

I don't give a shit about getting Sir Keir Starmer into government. Fuck him. He's completely useless, and so is Labour as long as it's led and controlled by the right of the party.

And again, Scottish independence isn't necessarily about supporting the SNP. For all the internecine/factional bullshit they seem to be going through, an independent Scotland would still almost certainly have a better electoral system than the existing UK does.

JN said...

"the explicit "anti-woke" politics"

Much as a lot of liberal/centrist/progressive 'woke' politics is very superficial and performative, the 'anti-woke' people are so much worse: disigenous bullshit about "freedom of speech" when what they're actually trying to do is to silence voices critical of their own views.

Phil said...

Labour remains the institutional expression of the labour movement and for as long as that is the case it's right and proper leftists should be part of it. Or does our unknown friend think 2015 would have happened had what remained of the Labour left decamped for the plentiful pastures ploughed by TUSC, Respect, the Socialist Alliance, the Socialist Labour Party, etc. etc.?

Jim Denham said...

Its probably too much to ask of the strange character who appears to embrace the kind of "Reactionary Socialism" demounced by Marx in the Communist Manifesto, and who hides behind the monika "DFTM", but s/he should take the tyrouble to read what I've written, not throw around wild and unfounded slanders. For instance, I do not (and never have) criticised Galloway for his support for Paletinian rights - I condemn him for ant-Istael "obsession": two quite different things.

A lot of people like this have convinced themselves that they're not antisemites. Of course, they're obsessed with Israel. Of course, the main focus of their activism is complaining about Israel and Israeli influence. Of course, at best, they only very occasionally mention other states doing similar things (e.g. Turkey, China, etc.).

But because they never say "the Jews", just "Israel", they can't possibly be antisemites.

Pointing out that's nonsense shakes the base of the entire fiction they've built up for themselves. They'll get mad. You're challenging a delusion that they've used to justify a large section of their lives. They'll probably never admit that they're racists. But I think their obsession with the Jews and Jewish influence speaks for itself. And that's an important point: it is not antisemitic to criticise Israel, but if that is all you do, if you are obsessed, then you're probably an antisemite.

Boffy said...

DFTM and all of his other aliases including the BNP supporting Sentinel have no views on anything. He's just a troll who picks a persona to present a particular set of views required to engage in pointless flame wars. He almost certainly has another sock puppet that is vehemently Zionist for that purpose, or to chip into conversations with himself when no one else is bothering to respond to his crap, so as to try to provoke other responses.

As the BNP supporting Sentinel, he of course spent much time attacking Muslims and Palestinians. In his other personas he has at various times supported the thoroughly reactionary, anti-working class Ahmedinijad, as well as the fascists amongst Hamas and other groups. Acting as cheerleaders for some of these people is just a vehicle for him to provoke pointless flame wars.

He similarly supported the Chavez, and Morales, and so when all of these figures of his adoration are inevitably exposed for the reactionaries they are, he obviously has to try to provide some justification, usually via diversionary tactics, or else he shuts up as one persona for a while, and simply pulls another puppet out from a drawer to use as the vehicle for his crap.