Around the web

Lacking a web profile: Phil Hamilton looks at George Galloway's website

Whatever one may think of George Galloway, few would disagree that his ego is matched only by the size of his bank balance. When quizzed about whether he would consider joining the Scottish Socialist Party on BBC News 24, he replied, “No.” He cited his usual mantra about not being a Trotskyist or a “nationalist”. More likely is his admitted fondness for a jet-set lifestyle (something that would go down like a lead balloon in the SSP). So how does Galloway present himself online?

Readers expecting a flashy site along the lines of Peter Mandelson’s (Weekly Worker July 21) will be disappointed. Strangely, the gorgeous one has not got round to maintaining a website for himself. Presumably he used to rely on the page maintained by Labour (http://labour.org.uk). However, taking their cue from JV Stalin, the party’s webmasters now seem to view Galloway as a non-person. His name turns up nothing in their search engine, not even a press release to announce his expulsion. The page for his Glasgow Kelvin seat breaks down the voting result for the 2001 election, but there is no mention of the curiously missing MP.

A Google search turns up more. The Guardian’s ‘Ask Aristotle’ politics search engine (http://politics.guardian.co.uk) has a fair and functional profile of our dapper-suited friend. Heading the page are a few statistics to keep the amateur psephologists happy, followed by a couple of soundbites: “I am proudest to have stood firmly against the new imperialism and Anglo-American aggression around the world,” opens a statement on the personal high point of his time in parliament.

Especially useful are the links grouped under ‘Their life in parliament’. ‘Jobs and committees’ detail Galloway’s activities at Westminster. ‘How have they voted?’ displays his patchy lobby record for the last five years. But the most interesting link is the ‘Register of members’ interests’. Ever wondered how the comrade could fund his penchant for Portuguese villas and caviar on a ‘paltry’ MP’s salary? Wonder no more. I was shocked when I read it, but you have to admire him for managing to get £70,000-plus out of the Mail on Sunday for his weekly column. Lastly, the profile is finished off with a few dated articles from around last April.

Following a series of Guardian articles, Google turns up a couple of BBC pieces. The first is another basic profile with a potted account of Galloway’s recent history. The other is a bizarre story from 18 months ago, concerning the maverick US actor, John Malkovich. According to the BBC, Galloway is one of two people that he would like to fight to the death (the other being The Independent’s Robert Fisk). To have the temerity to criticise US Middle Eastern policy (and its Israeli mini-me) is enough to earn Malkovich’s ire, it seems.

The next item on the search engine is the notorious Daily Telegraph piece alleging Galloway’s financial entanglements with Hussein’s Ba’athist regime. This scurrilous piece of muckraking even fails to sound plausible. For example, we are expected to believe these “were found in the looted foreign ministry”. How convenient that the Telegraph’s reporter just so happened to unearth the relevant documents, after hundreds of others had been burned, shredded or stolen.

Still, the reactionaries at this supposed ‘quality’ newspaper do not have the monopoly on anti-Galloway agendas. The ‘Iraq war’ section of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty’s website (http://workersliberty.org; see also Weekly Worker February 27) has its own ‘The Galloway/Saddam affair: what we think’ pages. As if to prove that the AWL’s unhealthy obsession with Galloway is not a passing mood, the comrades have included a piece from January 1994.

Clearly the passage of time has changed nothing, lining them up then (as now) with a rightwing assault on the Kelvin MP. On this occasion, however, Galloway is condemned (among other things) for saluting “the man who rocketed gas bombs on Israel three years ago”. Funny, I thought the comparatively few missiles that struck Israel in 1991 were very much conventional weapons, but best not let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

In conclusion, Martin Thomas writes, “Galloway should be thrown out by his local party.” So, their failure to defend a leading figure in the anti-war movement from being witch-hunted now is because of a long-standing shibboleth. What did Marx say about putting the interests of a group before the wider interests of the class?

Clearly Galloway needs his own website, instead of having to rely on others to maintain an internet profile for him.