Friday, 21 January 2011
Scottish politics could do with a good laugh re George Galloway
He's not exactly endearing himself to his putative colleagues at the foot of the Royal Mile, is George Galloway.
For a former MP who now says he wants to be an MSP, calling people with whom you might be rubbing shoulders in a few months' time "stumblebums" and "nonentities" is hardly the way to win friends and influence people, even if they are not your allies.
But then, Mr Galloway would probably claim that he does not want to be liked, merely respected.
As he practices what passes in some quarters for oratory and generally limbers up his autodidactic skills for the coming fray, there is certainly one group of people that this observer, at least, hopes will take "Gorgeous" George to their hearts.
I refer, of course, to the voters of Glasgow. It's not that I think Mr Galloway is a good politician; I don't. It's not that I think that he will be of benefit to the people of Glasgow. I don't. It's not that he'll raise the prestige of the Scottish Parliament by bringing, in his own words, "a touch of class" to the place. He won't.
What he will be is a marvellous advertisement for George Galloway. Any benefit that the people of Glasgow accrue is likely to be entirely coincidental. And improving a parliament's reputation generally comes from activities way beyond the handing out of insults, however wounding, and assorted bon mots, no matter how colourful.
But I still hope that Mr Galloway gets the nod on the regional list section of the ballot paper in Glasgow on May 5 and I wish it for entirely selfish reasons.
Having heard real parliamentary debaters – Michael Foot, Enoch Powell, Michael Heseltine, John Smith to name but a few – I'm bound to say that Mr Galloway doesn't even make the top of the second division, never mind the premier league. But what he is certain to lack in content and substance he will make up in colour and controversy.
While it may appear flippant to say so, it is such commodities that help keep those of us in the cheap seats in business.
Just as when Paul Gascoigne signed for Glasgow Rangers in the 1990s and became as much a feature of the news pages as the sports section, so I would expect as lively a figure as Mr Galloway to brighten up the political coverage of our newspapers. Who knows, he may make the news pages occasionally, too?
Apart from not all of Glasgow's voters necessarily sharing the high opinion of Mr Galloway that he has of himself, there is the small matter of a rival candidate for the city's Left-wing vote.
An electoral pact between the former Hillhead MP and Gail, wife of the soon-to-be jailed Tommy Sheridan, appears to have fallen through and Mrs Sheridan is to fight under her husband's old Solidarity banner. Mr Galloway is reported to be currently campaigning under a "galloway4glasgow" label, although that may change on the ballot paper to "Scottish Respect (George Galloway)".
Contrary to popular belief, the two parties are not interchangeable; Mrs Sheridan and her husband support the break-up of the United Kingdom, while Mr Galloway does not. The London media, which knows nothing and cares less about Scottish politics, are certain to home in on Mr Galloway's campaign – they've long loved him, after all – and, as a side issue, it will be interesting to see how Alex Salmond reacts to getting only second billing.
It will be a tall order for both Mr Galloway and Mrs Sheridan to make it to Holyrood but in Mr Galloway's favour, as well as media interest, is the fact that he at least will be able to campaign in person whereas Mr Sheridan's efforts on his wife's behalf are certain to be somewhat circumscribed by the fact that he will sewing mail bags, or whatever, by May 5.
But let battle commence. Scottish politics could do with a good laugh.