Today the social networks have been full of hate; directed not towards Murdoch or the Tories or the usual suspects, but towards George Galloway.
Looking at Facebook and the comments on news sites reminded me of 1984 and the “two minutes of hate”, directed at the enemy of the people, Emmanuel Goldstein (based loosely on Leon Trotsky.)
Look at the drubbing given to Galloway on the politics website Left Foot Forward:
There is no doubt that Galloway is in many ways a dubious and thoroughly tarnished figure; a shameless self publicist who is best known for his friendship with Saddam Hussein and his cat impressions on Celebrity Big Brother.
This makes the fact that Galloway thrashed Labour in the Bradford West by-election, with a 36 per cent swing to his “Respect” party even harder to cope with. Especially since it would be hard to imagine a worse few weeks for the Government – the budget, cash for favours, the row over VAT on pasties, and the panic buying of fuel that indirectly lead to a woman in York setting fire to herself.
In other words, the Government is in a right mess, but still the voters of Bradford rejected Labour. It’s easy to dismiss Bradford as a blip – a large Muslim community that was ripe for Galloway’s agenda – but the Labour candidate, Imran Hussain, was not some wonk parachuted in from a think tank but an Asian Muslim with ties to the local area. On paper, he was the perfect person to win; however, faced with the Galloway razzamatazz, he was a no-hoper.
However, to dismiss the Galloway victory as the product of sheer force of personality (or shameless skullduggery) would be a mistake. Galloway won because he is a)anti war and b)anti cuts. He wants to protect public services and re-nationalise industries. He is tapping in to a genuine discontent about the way things are and is a million miles away from the neo-liberal agenda pursued by the likes of Blair, or Mandelson, or Ed Balls. Like him or loathe him, he is a thorn in the side of the power elites that run our country and his victory is a sign that mainstream politics just isn’t cutting it for a lot of voters. Which I think is a terrrible, terrrible shame.
Here’s Owen Jones on Galloway:
Jones’s conclusion nails it for me: he identifies the cause of Galloway’s victory as a complacent political establishment that refuses to stray from a very narrow selection of policies. In a world where the political parties look very similar, then a character like Galloway can get more of a hearing than he probably deserves.
I would like to see the creation of a political landscape where people didn’t feel the need to vote for George Galloway. I dislike the way he splits the opposition to the Tories at a time when critics of what must be the worst government in my life time should be working together to defeat the common enemy. I worry that more people like him will emerge and make it harder and harder to get Cameron out – despite the ongoing stink of corruption. I worry that the righteous anger that should be directed against the destruction of our health service, education system and the welfare state is being focused on a self promoting Scotsman with a big mouth.
I think Galloway’s critics should put their visceral hatred of him to one side and calmly assess why it is that he did so well in the Bradford West by-election. Replace fury with analysis and anger with reason and we might just learn a few useful lessons.