Galloway exposes weakness

At a 'Don't attack Iraq' public meeting - organised in Woolwich, south London last week by the Stop the War Coalition - the most radical speech came from George Galloway MP. In stark contrast to Louise Christian's liberal legalism, John Rees's subordination of politics to size fetishism, the parables of a local imam and a 'trade union' speech from FBU executive member Lynda Smith - his was broader, deeper and actually dealt with high politics. For Galloway - once a full blown Saddam Hussein sycophant - it is a "democratic outrage" that thousands of British troops are being mobilised for war and millions of pounds spent without a single vote to authorise it. He then marked Britain as the "only country in the world without a written constitution". We have a queen who has the "power to authorise war" and that power is "invested in Blair, who acts like he is a president". While Louise Christian talked of the US/UK flouting international law, Galloway stressed not legality, but the "systematic destruction of civil liberties and democracy" that the 'war against terror' implied. All the freedoms won through struggle over decades are "being shredded", he said. Added to this is the "deliberate whipping up of fear and a witch-hunting against immigrants and asylum-seekers". Accusing David Blunkett of "giving succour to racists", he then moved on to convenient discoveries by the police of "mysterious chemicals" and raids against mosques. "It stinks to high heaven," said Galloway. Rejecting the US/UK claim that Iraq possesses 'weapons of mass destruction' and how it had to be invaded because it is dangerous, Galloway claimed Iraq is going to be attacked because it is not dangerous - unlike, say, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, who do have such weapons. In fact, he said, Iraq is weak because 'we' have used the mass weapon of sanctions and are responsible for the death of one million Iraqi children. He then listed the actual use of chemical weapons by the US and Britain, and the US employment of two atomic bombs on Japan and one million depleted uranium-tipped shells by the US and Britain in the last Gulf War. According to Galloway the real reasons for this war are: securing oil supplies; maintaining the client state of Israel; Bush junior concluding Bush senior's unfinished business; and, most important of all, extending US domination of the world. In these circumstances it was a "disgrace" that only 57 Labour MPs are opposed to war on Iraq. At present the Stop the War Coalition has no strategy beyond building for the next anti-war demonstration. Galloway has though identified - unwittingly perhaps - how the present war drive is not only associated with oil, but the severe constitutional limits that block and cripple democracy in the United Kingdom. The fight against the war in Iraq must be linked to the fight for full democracy. Alan Stevens