After his decisive defeat in the Batley and Spen by-election, George Galloway’s latest political vehicle, the Workers Party of Britain, sent its supporters a thankful but knowing tweet about “our indefatigable” leader, echoing the time when Galloway praised Saddam Hussein for his own indefatigable struggle against Western neo-imperialism. It’s a joke, perhaps, but not a particularly charming one.
Galloway’s defeat, however, was not quite decisive enough. Some 22 per cent of the vote is not negligible, and for someone who has just blown in to the West Riding again (he was MP for Bradford West for a few years after a similar intervention), was a pretty respectable showing.
An opinion poll at the start of the campaign had him on 6 per cent, and there was always the possibility that he’d attract sufficient votes with his heady championing of Palestinian and Kashmiri causes that he’d deprive Labour of its seat. When he did so, as his posters declared, he would “get Starmer out”. He almost did, as well.
The narrowness of that win sent him into a paroxysm of self-righteous rage. Taking a cue from Donald Trump, with whom he shares some of the same human qualities, Galloway has challenged the result; said it must not stand and threatens legal action.
Rather than Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage, it is now George Galloway who is “Britain’s Trump”, raging about the way the election was run and complaining to the police and the electoral commission about the way the (Labour) council implemented rules about the size of the “mandatory imprint”, the bit that is required by law to state who published the poster.
Galloway says the council failed to return the posters concerned to him. Would it have made a difference? Would the claimed intimidation and other murky activities of various parties? Who knows? What it does prove, apart from him being a sore loser, is that Galloway’s ardour for a public role is undiminished.
Once a Labour MP, he long ago fell out with New Labour, and has spent most of the last three decades messing up Labour’s chances of winning elections, seizing safe Labour seats himself in Bethnal Green in 2005 and Bradford in 2012. He seems to view Keir Starmer with the same contempt as Tony Blair. To Galloway, Starmer and Boris Johnson are just “two cheeks of the same arse”, and he is going to carry on kicking them, though the Starmer buttock seems to be getting more of the abuse.
Galloway isn’t going away, either: “I look forward to a long period contesting with Keir Starmer the ground which lies between us,” he has said. Now outside the Labour Party, he seems determined to destroy it, by trolling it as hard as Trump trolls the Republicans or Joe Biden. That may be beyond even Galloway’s indefatigable abilities. Luckily for him, there are plenty of people inside the party happy to do it for him.