“I’ve met ghastly people in my time, but I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as objectionable and creepy as Galloway.”
Not my words, I hasten to add, but those of Ruth Dudley Edwards, writing in The Belfast Telegraph the other day. In the article Ruthie casts her mind back to the ‘West Belfast Talks Back’ of 2013 and tells her readers how she was sitting between George, which meant she had to listen to “his bullying and his bile,” and Gerry Kelly, with his “unrepentant past and hypocritical present”. (I wonder what were George and Gerry’s feelings as they listened to and thought about the woman between them. All good, I’d say.)
But it’s George that Ruthie trains her guns on, so to speak. “He uses his intrinsic nastiness as a debating tool”, apparently. I wonder how that works. Among his other sins, she lists his working for “Iranian Press TV” and his admiration for Fidel Castro. Well now. The former UUP grandee John Taylor worked for Press TV, or appeared on at least one panel with them (I know because I was on it with him). And I’d say I’m only one of millions who share George’s admiration for the Cuban leader. Christy Moore even wrote a song about him, which I suppose puts Christy in Ruthie’s seriously-bad books as well. She accuses Mr Galloway of opposing the 1991 Gulf War (that was the one where they presented blasting Iraqi tanks and those in them as a kind of video game). It seems that was a bad thing to do – be against that invasion, as distinct from against the tank-vaporising fun. And she’s not at all keen on the way he declared Bradford an Israeli-free zone.
But in the end she shows she has a big liberal heart: she’s for “letting the scoundrel speak” at the Ulster Hall, but the cops should be there to record every word in case he incites hatred. Nice word that, “scoundrel”. I used to read it in cheap thrillers when I was about thirteen. “Take that, you scoundrel!” Lord Fotheringay says as he lands an uppercut on the baddie’s chin. Which is, of course, what Ruthie’s Belfast Article has attempted to do with George.
There are things that I’d disagree with Galloway about, but there’s a lot about him that I admire. Now that Ruthie has kindly listed the things she detests about him, I’m clearer in my mind about why I like him. Once more I find myself thinking of Freud’s theory of projection – the notion that we are most critical of those things in others which we ourselves are guilty of. Bullying, bile, intrinsic nastiness. Now who – besides George – does that remind me of?