George Galloway: long record of solidarity with Palestine

Third period Bennism

Should we support George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain in the coming general election? Carla Roberts gives her take on the politics, programme and perspectives

It was a strange decision for that usually shrewd political operator, George Galloway, to agree to sit down for a 90-minute interview with Novara Media, which in Galloway’s view is very much part of the “woke chatterati” - and that a few days before the May 2 local elections. It is even stranger that he thought he should use an interview with this ostensibly leftwing media platform (it is all relative) to volunteer his very reactionary views on gays and what he calls “transmania”. But it borders on the bizarre for Galloway to complain afterwards that he was somehow “stitched up”.

Galloway now fumes that Novara Media had “assured me that they would not publish the interview until the Sunday after the local elections”.1 Which they stuck to. On May 1, they did, however, publish a short, now infamous, excerpt: “I don’t want my kids to be taught certain things - for example, that gay relationships are exactly the same and as normal as a mum, a dad and the kids. I want my children to be taught that the normal thing in Britain is a mother, a father and a family.”2

“Pulling out these edited quotes, partial snippets - that was misleading,” he complains. He also walked out of an interview with LBC Radio after it played the excerpt, furiously complaining: “This is a clip of a clip. It is an edited clip of an edited clip”, adding: “I have got a simple answer. Listen to the whole thing tonight.”

Well, we did. And it does not make Galloway look any better. Quite the opposite. It transpires that Galloway in fact volunteered his obnoxious views to Aaron Bastani, proudly explaining: “I ain’t no liberal, bruv. I have always had a more conservative mindset on social and moral issues than the rest of the left - perhaps even more now. The older you get, the more religious you get. You’ll see,” he teased.

And he certainly delivered. Novara Media did not even show the worst bits in the short clickbait video - the publication of which is, incidentally, an entirely normal thing for a mainstream media outlet to do. If Galloway had some kind of watertight agreement about the publication date, I am sure he would have shown it publicly. The key point is this: the short video was not edited to make it appear that he said something other than he did.

In the full version, while talking about Jeremy Corbyn, he suddenly says:

I’ve voted for gay marriage and the rest. But I don’t want my children brought up to believe that men in frocks and all the transmania that’s around - no, I don’t want my children exposed to that. I think Jeremy is probably quite comfortable with that.

Galloway now claims: “I have never said gay people are not normal - that is deeply dishonest. I said normal in the meaning of ‘typical’.”3 Actually, no, he did not - even though Bastani offered him that way out, Galloway kept repeating what he believes to be “the norm”:

There have always been men who wanted to be women, and I treat them like I would like to be treated. But if you ask me to accept that, with his dick swinging, he could change next to my seven-year-old daughter, then the answer to that is no … I am gay-friendly. I just don’t want my kids to be taught that it is the same if you decide to take the direction of Adam and Steve, when the norm and the most happy and the most stable basis for society is mum, dad and the kids.

It would probably be too cheap a shot to mention at this point that having six children from four marriages does not sound like a particularly “stable” home life.


But then Galloway is a man of many contradictions. He (and his many defenders on the left) complain that the short excerpt was meant to harm the electoral chances of the Workers Party of Britain by cutting out the bits where he explains:

I voted in favour of gay marriage and I was one of the few Labour MPs who voted to reduce the age of consent to 16 and not 18. That’s what got me a Stonewall Award. But I am talking about kids here. Being in favour of gay marriage does not mean it should be promoted in schools.

Promoted in schools? Leaving aside that it is very questionable that there are indeed any teachers who actively ‘promote’ homosexuality rather than simply speak about it, it very much sounds like Gorgeous George mourns the repeal of Margaret Thatcher’s infamous section 28 of the Local Government Act, which prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities.4 Would he vote in favour, should it come up in parliament? We can only guess.

Ditto on the question of abortion: “I am absolutely against abortion, but I am not forcing my beliefs on anybody else and I think there should be free abortion for everybody,” he told Bastani - with the caveat “up to three months, but not after that”. It’s a shame that Bastani did not push him on the fact that the current legislation allows for a woman to have an abortion up until week 24. Would he vote in favour of attempts to bring it down to three months? Probably.

He would “definitely vote against euthanasia”, he says, because “I think god decides when you die”. Again, Bastani unfortunately did not press him further on this ridiculous point. What about the Iraq war then? The slaughter of the Palestinians? Is that really a god deciding who should die? Galloway would probably have said, ‘No, that’s different: that’s man-made by politicians’. As is the fact, we would argue, that millions of people have to die in pain and agony because of a lack of investment in healthcare and medical advances.

Amazingly, Bastani also failed to ask him about his well-known, national chauvinist views on immigration (more on that below).

Why then did Galloway give such an interview, which he knew would inevitably lead to tons of criticism across the left? James Meadway (advisor of the treacherous John McDonnell during the Corbyn years) writes rather convincingly:

This is a calculated move. Galloway chose Novara to deliver this message because he wants a security lock against left joining WPB - he needs clarity on his strategy, which is to find the populist ‘diagonal’ between left and right and build an oppositional movement on that line.5

That looks, broadly, correct. Galloway wants to appeal to the soft pro-Corbyn left, yes, but does not want troublesome members of the hard left in the party challenging him. His experience with the ‘Trotskyites’ of the Socialist Workers Party in Respect will have cemented his views on that.

But he also wants to appeal to pro-Palestinian Muslims, many of whom hold socially conservative views. It is the issue of Gaza that currently allows the WPB to appeal successfully to both. But, once the plight of the Palestinians has been relegated to the inside pages again, this will become increasingly difficult. And it was, of course, the tension between those two sections which ultimately led to Respect’s implosion.

What programme?

That fault line is reflected in the programmatic output of the party. The WPB describes itself as “a socialist party” and its Ten-point programme6 reads like the typical ‘motherhood and apple pie’-type demands of much of the economistic left, including Transform, Left Unity, For the Many, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, etc - it is broadly supportable.

But dig a bit deeper and it gets more complicated. He might have separated from the Stalin-worshipping Brar family, who went their own way in November 2022, but the WPB still retains some of the stuff written by them: “We defend the achievements of the USSR, China, Cuba, etc”; and there is talk of the “positive historical legacy of the Soviet Union”. No problem for Galloway - he is, after all, a typical representative of the ‘soft left’ of Labour national chauvinism with pro-Soviet leanings that existed in the post-war era.

Then there is the recently-published Our Manifesto7. It is very long - and it is highly problematic. For a start, there is no definition of socialism: only the platitude that “we are not utopian, nor are we bound by abstruse theory. We have a common-sense analysis and a practical mission. The Workers Party is committed to the redistribution of wealth and power in favour of working people.” In other words typical British philistinism.

In his Novara interview, Galloway elaborated:

I’m not a worshipper of any dead Russians or dead Germans, but, if you want to personalise it, I’m a great admirer of Tony Benn, who I greatly loved. We want to replace the Labour Party in the way that the Labour Party replaced the Liberal Party - with a Bennite Labour Party.

The Manifesto is, accordingly, a very mixed bag. On the (very small) plus side, it describes the party as “radically democratic”, stating that “the Crown is a problem” and that the monarchy should be abolished. It wants to do away with the House of Lords, but replace it with a chamber of “more regional, trades union and technical expert voices able to scrutinise legislation”. It describes the party as pro-Palestinian and “unashamedly anti-imperialist” and says Britain should “leave Nato”.

That is as good as it gets. The Manifesto goes to great length to show the WPB as “anti-woke”, “anti-liberal” and sceptical that there is such a thing as climate change: “We will not be seduced by the more apocalyptic Green hysteria”.

But the main tenor is national chauvinism. It moans about benefit scroungers:

We are one class but also one nation. While we do not and will not countenance able-bodied and mentally fit abusers of the system, we do think the good society [!] requires all of us to contribute to helping the least well off and disadvantaged. If this means reasonable and fair redistributive taxation of the wealthier elements in society, so be it.

We all suffer when it comes to scroungers, you see - or “mass migration”, for that matter: “We offer a migration policy that reflects the anxiety felt among the working class about an influx of migrants which appears to be out of control” - ditto “escalating numbers of asylum-seekers”. The solution:

We will make a regular calculation of the sustainable levels of migration … Open mass migration strategies without these measures will break society into identity wars and tribalism, no matter how much we would like it to be otherwise. We will resist them on behalf of British workers.


The Manifesto mentions that “we are one nation” a staggering six times - the whole document is deeply nationalist and also a bit bonkers. It basically envisages the WPB running British capitalism (presumably calling that ‘socialism’):

We will become independent trading partners developing friendly relations with the Brics, the rising powers of the world who are building a new multipolar world … We will seek radical reform of the United Nations to empower it as genuine representative of the global community and help it to resist the domination of Washington, which only undermines its prestige and influence …

In the point, ‘Defence of the nation’, we read:

The Workers Party of Britain is proud of our armed forces and its traditions. We recognise their willingness to give their lives for our country … We will carry out a top-down review of the Royal Navy, army and airforce to ensure that their structures are lean and efficient. Any savings made from restructuring the leadership and administration of our armed forces will be spent on delivering weaponry and equipment for personnel on the front line.

Soldiers do not need trade union rights: they need the best weapons in the world!

Take away the issue of Palestine and there is, in my view, very little in the WPB Manifesto that Marxists can support. Yes, we called for a vote for Galloway in the Rochdale by-election, because at the height of the onslaught on Gaza his election was an important victory in solidarity with the Palestinians.

When it comes to the general election, however, things might look different. The WPB intends to stand 500 candidates - including against Labour lefts - because they cannot countenance backing anyone who would “put Keir Starmer into Downing Street”, since he is “co-responsible for crimes against humanity.”8 So third period Bennism. Moral indignation substitutes for the united front politics of giving critical, or even, conditional support.

Unless the WPB is the only ‘left’ choice on the ballot paper, other candidates should be given priority, in my view.

  1. Not the Andrew Marr Show May 5.↩︎

  2. www.tiktok.com/@novaramedia/video/7364397713506454816.↩︎

  3. www.youtube.com/watch?v=etgM5H62OLE.↩︎

  4. www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/9/section/28/enacted.↩︎

  5. twitter.com/meadwaj/status/1785774422311268539.↩︎

  6. workerspartybritain.org/ten-point-programme.↩︎

  7. workerspartybritain.org/manifesto-britain-deserves-better.↩︎

  8. www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMnqQO8tSiU&t=1001s.↩︎