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George Galloway

George Galloway (born August 16, 1954) is a Scottish politician, who is Member of Parliament for the Glasgow Kelvin constituency. He was elected as a Labour Party candidate but was suspended from the party on May 6, 2003. He has become an extremely controversial figure due to the apparent closeness of his connections to the former regime in Iraq.

Born in Dundee, Galloway became a factory worker on leaving school. He later became a Labour Party organiser and General Secretary of the charity War on Want[?] before being elected to the House of Commons at the 1987 general election, defeating the former SDP leader Roy Jenkins in Glasgow Hillhead.

Galloway is a traditional left-winger. He is a voluble opponent of privatisation and nuclear weapons at a time when the "New Labour" government is in favour of them. He has gained most notice outside the UK for his support for Arab causes. He is involved with the politics of Iraq, Libya and Palestine, arguing that the people there are suffering at the hands of what he calls western imperialism. An anti-Zionist, he is a harsh critic of Israel: he frequently ends public speeches by calling for "victory to the intifada!".

He opposed the 1990-91 Gulf War and was critical of the effect the subsequent sanctions had on the people of Iraq, visiting Iraq several times and meeting senior government figures including Saddam Hussein. He was subsequently dubbed the "member for Baghdad Central", and was called "not just an apologist but a mouthpiece for the Iraq regime over many years" by Labour minister Ben Bradshaw, a comment the minister later retracted after being called a liar by Galloway. He said that he (Galloway) had been demonstrating against Saddam Hussain outside the Iraqi embassy in London, at a time when British cabinet ministers were inside the building arranging an export of British-manufactured arms to Iraq.

In 1998 Galloway founded the 'Mariam Appeal', "to campaign against sanctions on Iraq which are having disastrous effects on the ordinary people of Iraq" [1] (http://www.orientmagazine.com/mariamappeal/). The campaign was named after Mariam Hamza[?], a single token child who was flown at the fund's expense from Iraq to Britain to receive treatment for leukaemia. The intention was to raise awareness of the suffering and deaths of tens of thousands of other Iraqi children due to lack of suitable medicines and facilities, and to campaign for the lifting of the western sanctions that Galloway maintained were responsible for that situation. The campaign won him press, first positive then negative as allegations rose that funds were mis-sappropriated and used to pay his wife and driver. This fund was at the centre of a further scrutiny during the 2003 Gulf war with allegations of lavish spending on Galloway's reular trips to the Middle East. It has been suggested by the Telegraph as the destination of the Iraqi funds. However, it can be argued that it is not unreasonable for money from a campaign fund to be used to pay for the travel expenses of campaigners.

During the 2003 Iraq war Galloway was interviewed by Abu Dhabi TV[?]. In the interview, broadcast on March 28, he called Tony Blair and George W. Bush "wolves" and said:

"Even if it is not realistic to ask a non-Iraqi army to come to defend Iraq, we see Arab regimes pumping oil for the countries who are attacking it. We wonder when the Arab leaders will wake up. When are they going to stand by the Iraqi people?"

He later denied that this was an incitement to attack British soldiers and said that "it would be best for them [British soldiers] to refuse to obey illegal orders." These remarks led to his suspension from the party, pending an inquiry, for allegedly "bringing the Labour Party into disrepute by behaviour that is prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the party". The right-wing tabloid press in the UK accused him of treason and it was suggested that he should be tried for his comments under the Incitement to Disaffection Act 1934[?].

On April 22, 2003, the Daily Telegraph published documents found in Iraqi government offices after the fall of Baghdad which it claimed showed that Galloway had met Iraqi intelligence agents and had received 375,000 from the Iraqi government. Three days later, the Christian Science Monitor published a story [2] (http://search.csmonitor.com/2003/0425/p01s04-woiq) stating that they had documentary evidence that he had received more than ten million dollars from the Iraqi regime. Galloway vehemently denied the claims, asserting that the documents were all forgeries, and announced that he would sue both newspapers for libel. On June 20, 2003, the Christian Science Monitor admitted that the documents it held were forgeries ("We are convinced the documents are bogus. We apologise to Mr Galloway and to our readers"). [3] (http://search.csmonitor.com/2003/0620/p01s03-woiq) Galloway roundly rejected the newspaper's apology:

I don't accept its apology. This newspaper published on its front page in every country in the world that I had taken $10m from Saddam Hussein. That was a grave and serious libel. A newspaper of that importance should have made the effort, both morally and legally, to establish the authenticity of those documents before publishing. They did not even speak to me before publishing these allegations. My legal action against them continues.

He also alleged that the affair was a conspiracy against him:

I want to know who forged these documents. I am calling on the Prime Minister, as head of the co-occupying power in Iraq, to investigate how this conspiracy came about.

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