Friday, May 06, 2005

A victory for Saddam 

There is one disgraceful aspect of the British election which really stands out - it's the victory of the despicable George Galloway in the London seat of Bethnal Green & Bow. Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party for his very vocal opposition to removing Saddam from power, subsequently started a new political party Respect, moved from his native Scotland, and ran against Oona King, half-African-American, half-Jewish Labour member and a strong supporter of the liberation of Iraq.

Galloway chose his seat well - it has 40 per cent (some reports put it at 50 per cent) Muslim population - Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi, majority of them fiercely opposed to war. Neither Galloway nor his supporters, however, seem to see anything wrong, hypocritical or self-contradictory in using the democratic process to punish those who made democracy possible in Iraq. And in the end the poll in Bethnal Green & Bow did bear a passing resemblance to the Iraqi election:
Yesterday the constituency saw its largest police presence ever on polling day, with hundreds of officers on the street and some forced to drive rental cars. Every polling station had at least one officer outside it as compared to three on previous elections, and dozens of police patrolled Brick Lane at the heart of the constituency's Bangladeshi community. Respect's lead there, at the centre of the city's curryland, was said to be seven to one.
Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, whose seat is 25% Muslim, has managed to survive with only a small swing against him. It might have helped that he is not Jewish. As Mark Steyn comments:
The defeat of Oona King, a black Jewish pro-war Labour MP, will mark an ominous development in British politics. I think there's no doubt that, under cover of "anti-Zionism", there's now an explicit anti-Jewish component to the political scene. And, disreputable as it is, Labour nominating committees will be thinking very carefully about whether they want to run Jewish candidates.
Galloway did outdo himself, though, in his victory speech:
Galloway declared his victory as a victory for Iraq.

"All the people you killed, all the lies you told, have come back to haunt you," Galloway said in a message to prime minister Blair.
Actually, the victory for Iraq already occurred on January 30, when millions of Iraqis, braving the guns and the bombs of thugs who fight for the man Galloway would still have ruling over Iraq, went out and overwhelmingly voted against terror and for a new and democratic Iraq. Ironically, Iraqi people risking death from suicide bombers and mortars have managed a larger turnout than voters of Bethnal Green, only 51.7% of whom voted yesterday.

Update: For all the readers who questioned my description of Oona King as half-African-American, her father is Preston King, African-American activist (he "was expelled from the US for draft dodging (Bill Clinton formally pardoned him 40 years later). He is now a respected professor of politics").


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