ACCORDING TO CONVENTIONAL liberal moral arithmetic, George Galloway is a more disreputable character than Alastair Campbell. The latter has posed for selfies with Nicola Sturgeon; was lionised in certain elite circles for his role in the People’s Vote campaign; and was featured as a columnist for Scotland’s bien pensant newspaper. Liberal Britain has reclaimed him. So much so that it’s considered exceptional bad form to mention Iraq.
No such luck for Galloway, whose crimes must be more unpardonable than dismantling the state architecture of the Middle East at a cost of an estimated million deaths and millions more in refugees. My moral circuits have failed me, because I cannot imagine what sort of Lovecraftian horror could be that bad. Any crime you attribute to Galloway, from my morally perverse perspective, is dwarfed by the crime of plotting a war of aggression, as hundreds of Labour MPs, MSPs and officials did without remotely harming their careers or their reputations among the ranks of the virtuous.
Galloway spent much of his life as a leftist critic of Labour’s neo-imperial turn. His motives and his judgement may have been suspect. His flair for self-dramatization and his pomposity often got the better of him. Equally, on the balance of evidence, his judgements were more correct than Labour’s, and he paid the price with excommunication.
Galloway’s latest project, All for Unity, appears all the more peculiar in that light. In his earlier days, Galloway was more relaxed about Scottish autonomy, but in his most recent incarnations he styles himself as a single-minded unionist zealot. “We’ve got only one goal – to get the SNP out,” he says of his party’s programme. “I’m against the SNP more than I’m against anyone else.”
The irony is that the SNP is what remains of the politically organised anti-War movement in Britain, for which Galloway was an effective spokesperson. Yet, according to Galloway’s moral arithmetic, supporting “separatism” is a greater crime than supporting all those endless neo-imperial disasters, as was the case of much of Labour and almost the whole of British Conservatism.
In a leftist corner of his brain, Galloway doubtless sees Scottish nationalism as violating the unity of the British working class. However, his new party seems to focus not on the working class as traditionally conceived, but rather on conservative rural landowners in a nation that has never had much of a small peasantry.
More importantly, the prospects for working class unity across the UK have diminished markedly, even compared to the days of Blairism. There are essentially four distinct national projects, and increasingly the British state itself forms the biggest barrier to inter-nationalist unity. Galloway will doubtless not credit the Labour Party, under Starmer, as a viable prospect for reuniting the shattered remains of British unity. Corbyn has been excommunicated. Even if some notional British class solidarity remains, it is unlikely to find political expression.
A recent poll gave Galloway a fighting chance of winning a seat. But, in all likelihood, his presence will merely pinch votes from an already demoralised band of Scottish Conservatives. Cynics might charge that Galloway’s earlier leftism never died, and that All for Unity represents a crypto-nationalist psyop to further diminish Scotland’s unionist bloc.