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I made a mistake last night. I caught some of Question Time, switching over as they were discussing Tony Blair’s appearance today before the Chilcott Apologia. If I’d realised that George Galloway was on the panel I wouldn’t have bothered, but he was, in full cry, demanding that our former Prime Minister be tried as a war criminal, and calling Alastair Campbell, one of his fellow panelists, ‘his Goebbels, his Lord Haw Haw’, with blood on his hands. As Campbell  remarked, that was rich coming from a man who had been in his time an apologist for Saddam Hussein. But George would not be silenced. George never is silent; he is an articulate and supremely gifted speaker, with a quickness of thought that makes him a hugely dangerous opponent in debate, as a US Senate committee famously discovered.

George was not the only man to oppose the Iraq War. He had the right to do so, even if his actions led to his expulsion from the Labour Party. He denies supporting Saddam, and he and his cronies claim that his notorious praise of the dictator and mass murderer was misquoted and out of context. But the film evidence is there, of George smiling in the company of a man who had by that time used weapons of mass destruction on his own people, killing thousands, and who had conducted a different sort of genocide on others, the marsh arabs. The question at issue has never been whether Saddam had WMD, but when he had them; his willingness to use them has never been doubted. George has been interviewed several times by television stations in the Middle East. I’m not going to reproduced some of the things he’s listed as saying, because I find them too offensive for this blog, but they’re out there if you care to research them. (By the way, Saddam is not the only unpopular cause that George has espoused. In 1990, he backed the military coup in Pakistan, although he later criticised President Musharraf . He also expressed support for the Soviet Union. I can find no record of him expressing a view on Hitler.)

It is good that the cages of the major UK political parties, and their leaders, should be rattled by people of independent mind. But George doesn’t have an independent mind. He seems to be obsessed by a notion of a global Zionist conspiracy, and he is extremely selective in his definition of terrorism. George is in fact a dangerous demagogue, a mob orator of the worst sort, because he has the gift of appealing to the basest instincts, and of stirring people by the sound of his words when normally they would be repelled by their content. He’s glib too, and very clever, as in his interview with Piers Morgan, in which he said that the assassination of Tony Blair would be justified, but was careful not to say a single word that might have constituted support for it.

George plans to run in the next Scottish Parliamentary Election. He doesn’t have a cat’s chance in hell of being elected as a constituency member, but the calculation is that he only needs 11,000 votes to gain a seat as a regional list MSP. I will be deeply disappointed if that many of my fellow Scots support his slate, but I suspect that they will, given the current state of play.

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