BRITAIN: Labour expels anti-war MP

Issue 

BY DOUG LORIMER

Glasgow MP George Galloway, an outspoken opponent of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision to back the US-led invasion of Iraq, was expelled from the Labour Party on October 23. "Labour will rue the day that they took this decision", said Galloway, who had been a member of the party for 36 years (since he was 13-years-old).

Galloway was found guilty by a Labour Party disciplinary committee of having brought the party "into disrepute by behaviour that is prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the party". He allegedly incited Iraqis to resist British occupation troops, urged British troops to defy orders and congratulated a Socialist Alliance candidate who defeated a Labour candidate in a local council election.

"This was a politically motivated kangaroo court whose verdict had been written in advance in the best tradition of political show trials... Blair's response to the disaster of the war is to attack those who stood against the war and to root them out of British politics", Galloway said. The unrepentant MP said he would contest the next British general election as an independent, and "fight with every bone in my body to bring a lying, deceiving prime minister to account".

Character witnesses for Galloway included former Labour cabinet minister Tony Benn. "The message that is sent out is: if you are in favour of the UN charter and peace, then don't be a member of the Labour Party because if you do, you might be expelled", Benn told the BBC's News 24 program.

The October 24 Independent reported that "Galloway's Labour constituency chairman, Mark Craig, offered his full support to the MP" if he decided to stand against Labour in the new Glasgow Central seat in the next general election. Galloway is reportedly confident that he can beat Labour in the seat, which has large numbers of Muslim voters who opposed the Iraq war.

Lindsey German, a convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, which organised anti-war protests in February that attracted up to 2 million people, said: "George Galloway told the truth before, during and after the war with Iraq, whereas Tony Blair has told nothing but lies. It is disgraceful that the Labour Party is penalising George Galloway and giving Tony Blair a standing ovation because that does not reflect the British people's view."

Martin Salter, Labour MP for Reading West, a supporter of Galloway's expulsion, posed the very question that many Labour Party members are now asking themselves: "How can someone like George want to remain in the Labour Party?"

From Green Left Weekly, October 29, 2003.
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