Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Gorgeous George goes to Washington
Galloway left the Harris Academy in Dundee at 16 to work in a tyre factory. At the precocious age of 26 he became Labour chair in Scotland and then chair of the charity War on Want. From there, not without some controversey already, he entered parliamentary politics when he won Glasgow Hillhead from Roy Jenkins in 1987. It was soon clear Labour had a natural orator of some strength on its side-some saw a future foreign secretary even- but at the same time he was something of an unguided missile. His campaign against sanctions imposed upon Iraq was acceptable but when Labour interpreted some of his utterences in 2003 as incitement to British soldiers to disobey orders, he was expelled from the party. He immediately set up the antiwar Respect Party and wiped the smirk of Tony Blair's face by sensationally winning Bethnal Green and Bow on 5th May.
His appearance in the Senate, albeit in front of a committee which mostly had not turned up to hear him, was in the best traditions of his style: readymade headline excoriations delivered without notes and without pause. He has a natural gift for vituperative condemnations but here it seemed he had right on his side and, I have to confess, it felt good to hear this fearless autodidact biting huge lumps off the world's only superpower. It was also a clash of styles: the churchlike atmosphere of the Senate invaded by the street fighting ruffian from the much less deferential legislative chamber this side of the pond. He may be the star in the movie of his own life(complete with what looks like a false tan), but yesterday he was, undeniably, a star.
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