I used to be somebody
Nothing is more pitiful than a politician who has lost power except, perhaps, a newspaper mogul; which brings me to the subject of this essay, frazzled, addled, George Galloway.
Galloway, defender of the down-trodden and the working class, who, like them, enjoys a good Havana cigar, is squandering the autumn of his life telling Scotland ‘like it is’.
A firebrand laid low. Or is it prostrate?
Firebrands either burn themselves out early, or end a career covered in ermine, a career spent decrying the establishment, ended pocketing £300 a day for signing on to snooze in a comfy, warm corner of leathered House of Lords. (See ‘Lord’ Alistair Darling.)
You tak the high road an’ Ah’ll tak the low road
During Scotland’s referendum debate Galloway, ever the opportunist – took to highways and byways of Scotia- correction: B-roads and back roads – of his homeland touring his comedy show, “Jist Say Naw,” a risky choice of title considering people took him at his word and ‘just said ‘naw’ to his blether.
Face lined and pouched from too many irregular hours, he does his best to appear dignified yet manages to present the dreaded image of a Scotsman on the make.
There’s the street fighter about him, bare knuckles until the man goes down. He thinks he is still in the fight game. Punch drunk he looks for a cause, any cause, and hopes he has found one demanding Scotland should give him a last chance at a title.
“Ah’ll take yous awe oan!!!”
He managed to confront only semi-retired coach, Jim Sillars, a veteran of the well-honed answer who rarely needs to put on gloves to land a hit to the jaw.
A man in search of his reputation.
If only he had shunned wearing that lurid pink cat suit on Big Brother and had not shimmied around like an automaton afflicted by constipation. Those slimy television producers sure know how to humiliate a man before fifteen million viewers. Still, the fee was lucrative.
He caught our admiration when he took on the might of the United States of Amnesia’s Senate Committee daring to grill and flambé him over his association with the once US supported and subsidised dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein.
What a fierce, doughty defence he put up. It was formidable. He went the full twelve rounds winning every one until he got that knockout in the last, greeted by a roar of cheers from dissenters treated as enemies of the state by the policeman of the planet.
A day on international glory
Who can forget his tirade against a nameless senator who thought ‘Galloway’ a tame milking cow of black and white hue? It was a classic of its genre – attack the best form of defence – leaving the stunned senator folded, hanging on the ropes, black and blue.
These days Galloway thinks Scotland doesn’t deserve more democracy than it has, which in reality is very little. Behind the bluster and the boorish behaviour, if you listen closely enough, you’ll hear the sneer of disgust aimed at the Scottish National Party because it has power given to it by the will of the people, and is intent on returning power to them.
Our man in the wilderness implores the Heavens, why them? Why Salmond?
Now, there’s a grudge match!
Mugging up to Muggeridge
Galloway reminds me of a personality editor of my student days, Malcolm Muggeridge.
Muggeridge was very fond of pontificating on everything. He took over popular causes to rail against them, voluably. This got him lots of attention, notoriety, interviews, press coverage, and of course, fat fees. It also made him a babe magnate, but more of that later. Setting himself up as Devil’s Advocate of First Choice in the media’s Rolodex he stayed in the public glare for long verbose periods. No matter how daft and wrong-headed his opinion on this or that issue of the day, he was The Chosen One ready to oppose progress.
He argued against heart transplants first experimented in South Africa, asking the chief surgeon, “Do you do these things because life in South Africa is cheap?” He ridiculed the Python team over the much censored comedy film, “Life of Brian.” “Utterly, utterly deplorable.” (He was a closet Catholic.) A former editor of Punch, an allegedly satirical magazine, he said, “I took on the awful, futile job of trying to make people laugh,” a statement calculated to gain him laughter and applause. And he despised what he saw as a lamentable lapse in public morals, explicitly, sexual freedoms.
And all the while he was a serial cheater on his wife.
Aye, those against anything remotely progressive usually have a skeleton languishing in the cupboard, or as Galloway is sure to pronounce it, ‘A. Skel-ington. Inna. Cummoard.’
So, where are we now?
Well, we used to call Galloway, ‘Gorgeous George,’ but today we have to alter that to Gorging George.’ He’s overweight, slow, terribly tired, and flat-footed.
He keeps talking about his past fights, reliving old spats. “I was thrown out of the Labour party because I defied the vote on the Iraq war!” Is that a boast or a regret? He’s insulted women refusing to retract his ill-advised comment on allegations against Julian Assange – “They do not constitute rape … not as we understand it.” For George, ‘no’ can mean ‘yes’.
He insulted colleagues to the point of resigning from the political party he founded, Respect, irony lost on him. He insulted the memory of Saddam Hussein whom he once thought ‘indefatigable.’ He even hugged Jimmy Savile but didn’t get groped. He insulted Jeremy Paxman, an Englishman not easily offended; unwittingly, he claims, he insulted the disabled by using the term ‘window-licker’; he called Senator John McCain senile; he insulted the late Christopher Hitchens. “Look at you, man. Yer drunk! You can hardly stand up. Get a grip of yourself!” He insulted … well, you get the drift.
And now he insults the intelligence of people of Scotland. He places ‘Nazi collaborators’ together with ‘the SNP.’ His jabs are a sucker’s punch. The more he hits below the belt, the less he’s liked. He doesn’t have the footwork, he doesn’t have the moves anymore. George the plucky pugilist is shadow boxing.
The saddest part of all
Galloway is despised by the British Establishment, an outsider, banished, rejected by the Labour party, seen as a pariah, a thorn in everybody’s flesh, driven to look like a prat on a low brow television show to earn a few quid, the one and the same Galloway who asks the people of Scotland for their respect.
He wants us to accept the British Establishment, to remain under their control, something his Irish republican mother would never have approved. It’s a prime case of Stockholm Syndrome – learn to have empathy for your captors. Bond with them.
Ah, well. In politics you can be a rooster one day and a feather duster the next.
Galloway could have been a contender for First Minister of Scotland, if a ponderous one. Instead he’s a has-been. These days he’s a side show event taking the punches.
Someone bandage the guy, will ya? I hate the sight of blood.