Taking the P out of RESPECT

Rupert Mallin

 

The Respect Office only knew of MP George Galloway's decision to enter the Celebrity Big Brother House 24 hours before. So, the notion that RESPECT has a wholly open and accountable leader went out of the window there. That is, Galloway is his own man, a celebrity, rather than being a socialist connected to the party he leads - in terms of collective decision making.

 

MiowI understand a want of publicity for the Palestinian Cause and the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq now. However, Channel 4 said they'd gag George before he went in. So we get lots of mute George. Unless the young people he is allegedly doing this for are all lip-readers then he has made a serious error. Indeed, to many he has illuminated himself in precisely the way The Sun and Telegraph would have wished - especially in his performance as a cat!

 

This episode not only reflects badly on Galloway but also poses problems with RESPECT office workers covering his jaunt. It has also undermined the respect of his constituents in Poplar & Bow. No one who voted for him could have imagined he would go to this TV desert island voluntarily for 23 days - not only mute and disconnected from them but also from the World at large.

 

Also hurt by this prank will be the leadership of the SWP - rightly, in my opinion. I've spoken to members of the SWP about this pantomime and they're all very critical of Galloway. 'Outrage' is the general view. Yet, there's growing criticism of both statements made by John Rees - National Secretary of RESPECT and a Central Committee member of the SWP. On Radio 4 he defended Galloway and in this week's Socialist Worker put his name to a tepid criticism of the MP. It is tepid because it encourages the idea that Gorgeous George's present antics will be forgotten come the May local elections. Who is to say George Galloway will not be in an Australian forest with Ant & Dec at the time.

 

The SWP leadership's interface with Galloway has been conducted on the basis of: "he needs us as much as we need him." Err, then he'd at least have consulted someone at the RESPECT office well in advance...?

 

For all his brilliance over the last year, Galloway will now be known as the game show host - taking the piss out of RESPECT. The SWP leadership has to face up to this nonsense. Problem is, criticism among 'comrades' can't be public, can it?

 

***

 

At least Jack Dee had the decency to escape the celebs and make it out of Big Brother a year or so ago. We all respect Dee for that. Surely Galloway should attempt to smash the building to pulp? That's what we'd all respect. 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 2006

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