Tag Archive: george galloway

I am fairly amazed that in the case of 3 news items I have heard this week there appears to be the strong impression at some form of surprise, as if many people cannot fathom why certain problems have manifested themselves. From my perspective I find this hard to believe as to me even a cursory examination would reveal uncomplicated explanations.

The first item was regarding euthanasia – always an emotive subject, but to the fore this week because it emereged a British woman with a terminal brain illness booked herself into a clinic in Switzerland to die. This has been seized upon by the media for its moral ambiguity that can be debated to death. What no-one ever seems to take into account is why is it so surprising that people in pain, be it physical or mental, seek to relieve themselves of this pain? Most of us in our lives have sought alleviation of some kind or other for any number of ailments, what if such medications and such were not available for our condition, what then? Or what if you were simply too tired to go on fighting, maybe you’ve been strong maybe you haven’t, everyone has a threshold in the end, what do you do when you reach it?

I think it is inconceivable to take this matter to debate without mentioning at all the fact that a vast swath of the world’s population are under the (mis)apprehension that the afterlife is going to be nirvana and a respite from the burden of this world. Why then shouldn’t people think that death is the answer to free them from their shackles? After all we are increasingly taught to go for the things we desire, what if what one desires is clearly not obtainable, or does not seem obtainable in this world? Now see for me this is not a quandry, I shall cling to life with every sinew in my body because I believe this is all you get and I’m too shit scared to go into the oblivion of non-existence thank you very much, I’ll stick around if it’s all the same. However I might feel differently if I were deprived of the ability to communicate and each day simply involved pain management.

So, on the one hand religion teaches us that if you are a virtuous person you’ll get your reward in heaven and that this world is a mere prelude for the next and then society attempts to put the ball and chain on you making suicide immoral and thereby telling you that no matter how shit things are now there’s no easy way out for you, Sunny Jim, you’ll stay here and like it. Doesn’t add up from what I can see, someone please explain.

The second piece of news which whilst not at first obviously conected was that Sven Göran Eriksson the embattled England football manager has added weight to recent claims that corruption is rife in football including a spate of managers receiving bungs from agents to transfer the right players. Eriksson joins Luton Town Manager Mike Newall and QPR boss Ian Hollaway who had already alleged the same thing. Interestingly Eriksson appears to carry a great deal more weight than the other two managers because now an enquiry is to be launched, whilst previously Newall and Hollaway’s evidence had illicited precious little active response from the game’s governing bodies on account, they said, on there not beeing any concrete evidence. Of course the Premier League has stepped manfully in to conduct the enquiry headed by…. itself. Hmm, no conflict of interest there then.

Again the question must be asked if the allegations are proven to be correct and I have little doubt that they are, why is anyone surprised? There is a huge amount of money involved with football these days, players at the top level command annual salaries that most of us will not earn in a lifetime, agents take their cut of this and rarely go short. Big businessmen get involved and pump large sums of money into football clubs, now correct me if I’m wrong but if they were looking to cultivate a philanthropic image my guess is that they’d pump this money into some worthy charity, museum or such like. The whole football system has become a large business venture for profit-making and money-laundering, thus rendering it entirely in sync with all the other modern day businesses.

And then there’s Big Brother which continues to feature heavily in newspapers. Whilst it may be slightly less directly covered in the more aloof broadsheets it is still a strong pull and no surprise that on the day many tabloids are running damming “exposees” etc. on Big Brother contestant George Galloway that The Guardian choose the same target but a different story, there’s being that the Serious Fraud Office have a lot of documents from the US Senate committee regarding allegations surrounding the Oil For Food program. It would of course be churlish to assert that if the Americans had proof of wrongdoing backed up by documentary evidence why did they not declare it when George was over there lambasting them. The point is that this Gaurdian article didn’t actually contain anything newsworthy other than the shipment of the documents here, there was no evidence of anything new coming out that may have an effect on any prosecutions just a lot of rumour, speculation and hypothesis. That sort of information is welcome in an editorial where the ‘what ifs…’ and ‘possiblys’ can be discussed ad nauseam but it is not news and should not be presented as such, the same way that a possible photo of George meeting a bad man at a time when he was not supposed to be a bad man and was being met by a lot of other bad men who are yet to be judged as bad men, is not news either.

Of course much has been made of Big Brother and certainly tempers have run high in what I have seen of it which does to be fair only correspond to a total of about 2 hours, much of which was primetime viewing where the events are suitably sensationalised. Would I like to chat politics with George Galloway, yes undoubtedly, would I like to live with him, I suspect not. But then I don’t like to live with anyone, I’m a miserable bugger and by the looks of it, so is he. Why should anything different be expected? Far from being an avuncular older statesman Galloway comes across as an aggressive, self-assured, querulous and opinionated man, but at the same time he comes across as passionate, committed, erudite and human. I can cope with Galloway the dogmatic, cantankerous politician precisely because I feel that he is exhibiting the traits that most people who aspire to high political office will exhibit. I don’t imagine any serious politician is the life and soul of the party anymore than I imagine that anyone who is the life and soul of the party makes a very good politician. Tony Blair has to be a prime example of someone who is totally obsessed with the spun image of him that he is careful not to leave a hair out of place or a smile faked badly and thus the substance of his politics is minimal. Would he make a Big Brother contestant that everyone loved? One can only speculate for such a politician would never allow his/her guard to be down in public like that.

Having been off sick of late I have had the misfortune to see parts of the Richard & Judy show, for those not familiar it’s the equivalent of Regis and Kathy Lee. Richard and Judy are hardly synonymous with the most refined or informed of debates, and yet they do seem to deem themselves fit to sally forth with some zeal in the character assasination of George Galloway. I am not saying this is necessarily a conspiracy but at no point have I heard anyone say anything about the political issues that George stands for which is after all his job. There has been much debate about George’s censorship by the Channel 4 directors team who have without question chosen to show the most ridiculous parts of George’s participation and his arguments especially when at their most petty. But again, why would I be surprised, their agenda is for this sort of thing and not for the swaying of the youth to an anti-capitalist message

Sadly I am totally underawed that the program has led to such vitriol. I think regardless of motivation George’s appearance on the show has done him precious few favours and done little to enthuse any of the audience to make them more inclined to listen to the message he claims to wish to propagate. In fact from where I’m standing he has given the media (one of the very greatest politcally reactionary forces in the country) adequate ammunition to riducule and besmirsch him in what will undoubtedly be the beginnings of a campaign designed to ensure he does not retain his seat at the next election. I cannot see how anyone will remember the substance of any of his arguments over the sight of him playing a cat or in a pink leotard. Personally I think his participation in these particular tasks was admirable in so far as I hardly think it would have done him any favours had he refused. The Hobson’s choice in this regard was one of his own making and one he could surely have seen coming unless he is unbelievably naive which I cannot believe, or too bothered about his ego to see it coming or think it’ll stop him. Again, I don’t judge too harshly on the ego point, to believe that you have a future in mainstream high-office politics you have to have an ego, otherwise how can you believe that you can ably represent the people you are standing for?

I guess the underlying message behind all 3 of these items is, once again, that you reap what you sow. This is not seemingly a message popular in the current world, cause and effect seems scarcely mentioned as the system and everyone within it blunder on like a juggernaut until such time as they run into something bigger and more immovable than them, hopefully we can get at least some people out before that happens.

Song Of The Day ~ Kingmaker – Armchair Anarchist

“David S made this comment,
So how do you feel about George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green using his time for shameless self-promotion instead of working for his constituents like 95% of other MPs. He is a crook, a joke and a disgrace.”

I am not surprised to be answering questions as to George Galloway’s participation in Celebrity Big Brother, I am even less surprised to have the first one on this blog levelled by long-time political ostrich Glasgow Dave who appears to have completed his transition into New Labour pastiche mode. Sadly, rather than criticising with any factual-based remarks he chooses to rattle off a short invective full of vitriolic style but more than a little lacking in substance, it is however I guess rather endemic of the political mainstream these days and if Glasgow Dave is seeking to emulate the Tony Blair/David Cameron homogeity he is indeed to be congratulated on his success.

My initial reaction to the revelation that George would be going into Big Brother was not a favourable one. I dislike the program and the format intensely and it appears to be systematic of the proof that many people would genuinely watch paint dry were there to be a sniff of a celebrity endorsement or the chance to win some money betting on which wall might dry first! The fact that George’s fellow house-mates included vacuous non-entities like Jodie Marsh, Dennis Rodman and Traci Bingham did not lead me to believe that the program would be a hotbed of scintillating conversation.

Upon reflection and having read and digested the statements and initial media reaction I recognise that George’s reasons, however, are at least valid, he cites firstly that some of the proceeds of the premium rate phone number that viewers will be calling on will go to charities of the participants choice and his choice is Interpal that works in Palestine, this has the effect of forcing the Palestinian agenda at least into the partial mainstream whether Channel 4 like it or not. Secondly the point that he will be able to reach a large audience that is at best ambivalent and for a large part utterly apathetic towards politics and politicians is no less crucial. It is a statistic often trotted out that more young people vote in Big Brother nominations than in General Elections but it does serve to underline the general disenfranchisement of the new generation of voters in this country.

George claims in a bulletin sent to party members and published on the Respect website “I will talk about racism, bigotry, poverty, the plight of Tower Hamlets, the poorest place in England sandwiched between the twin towers of wealth and privilege in Canary Wharf and the spires of the City. I will talk about war and peace, about Bush and Blair, about the need for a world based on respect.” Perhaps mere noble words indeed, but one cannot doubt the validity of the ironic geographical position of his constituency, whether or not one doubts his ability to represent it.

At this point I ought to say that whilst I have marginally softened to the idea of his participation I have far less faith in the media and do not believe that any attempt at a political message will be broadcast on the program as Channel 4 use Big Brother for the gossip and titilation powers rather than as a vehicle for any information, education or debate. I believe the more political George is in the Big Brother house the less he will be seen on the Channel 4 highlights program thus rendering his message largely pointless. This has been borne out by the first week’s programming so far. I believe Channel 4’s motivation to get George in the house was purely for the shock value of his initial entry rather than any subsequent participation. He has for them served that purpose and is thus surplus to requirements in their eyes, I would now in fact be astonished if he is not in fact the first evictee from the house. It is principally for this reason that I doubt very much if any tangible political good will be done to George’s reputation or the interests of Respect as a party.

Even columnist Zoe Williams in The Guardian has acknowledged that Channel 4’s policy in removing any political reference is one that will only add to the problem of the disinterest in politics amongst the 16-24 year olds. Her article makes interesting reading and alludes to an attempt by the paper to smear Galloway upon his entry by suggesting that he was derelict in his duty to constituents because he had not responded to their attempt to contact on the day he entered the Big Brother house. Williams points out that she is still waiting for another MP to return contact from November.

I think it was Spike Milligan who first said 88% of all statistics are made up and I think we must apply that to Glasgow Dave’s assertion that 95% of MPs are working for their constituents whilst George Galloway is in the 5% that do not. It is very easy to level criticism at George Galloway for his constituency acts when one doesn’t know anything about what they may be. Glasgow Dave is not resident in Bethnal Green, I do not know if he has ever been there, he is therefore somewhat unqualified to comment but a brief look at the facts may allow us to determine whether his accusation holds any water. In the 8 months that George Galloway has represented Bethnal Green and Bow he has campaigned alongside Defend Council Housing, and as a result the New Labour council was recently defeated in five of the seven ballots it held to give away council housing to private landlords and called off another three in the face of certain defeat. Furthermore the New Labour proposal for PFI privatisation of the Royal London Hospital has been criticised for its potential to cost the taxpayer over £4 million per bed, even the government have now taken this proposal back under review. There is a list of all of the public engagements that George Galloway has attended within the bounds of his constituency, I would certainly defy anyone to find 95 MPs that have a better record let alone finding 95% of them. As to any statement regarding constituency work whilst George in in the house one must bear in mind that Parliament is in recess and many constituency MPs are in fact on holiday, this means a great many local MPs will not have constituency surgeries taking place. You will find a surgery taking place this Friday in Bethnal Green just as last Friday.

I would seriously question what any of the Labour cabinet or the Tory shadow cabinet do on a regular basis for their constituents or for that matter the many MPs who have other jobs outside the House of Commons. It is no secret that many frontline MPs do not return to their constituencies after politics but take up lucrative directorships in the city or non-executive directorships where they can work from the golf course home. Where do we assess whether or not an MP works for his constituents, what are the criteria and how do we determine if an MP has met them. To my mind the only measure I can see is that if an MP has, after consultation with the people s/he is elected to represent, put his/her own personal views and party loyalties to one side to vote according to the wishes of his/her constituents then s/he can be regarded as having worked for the good of the constituency. I would contest that such an MP is a very very rare beast indeed. This is however the nature of modern politics, by taking representatives and moving them to a legislature far far away from those whence they have come a degree of detachment is inevitable. The only method of doing anything about this that I can see is the original soviet (please note, soviet with a small ‘s’, if you don’t know what that means please ask, rants regarding mid to late 20th century Russia will be frowned upon!) method of devolving down to local assembly level in every area and there is still much to be sorted out in terms of how this would work.

Glasgow Dave appears to have a problem with “shameless self-promotion” and on this point we can agree, I have long since been a critique of the socially devisive “Celebrity” culture but I have not noticed Comrade Dave being especially vociferous on any of these points. I have not heard a Glasgow Dave diatribe about Tony Blair appearing on Des O’Conner tonight or the Prime Minister’s cynical and woeful attempts to ingratiate himself with the “Britpop” scene or England’s victorious crickets after the Summer Ashes series. And whilst I no longer visit Glasgow Dave’s site I did check through his archives to attempt to ensure whether I was in fact doing him a disservice. I have highlighted the link to allow any readers to search for themselves. Whether Glasgow Dave likes it or not current politics is a business now that involves media coverage, this has been exploited mercilessly by the New Labour media machine who have sought to ensure that they remain ingratiated to The Sun and its influential owner, media tyrant Rupert Murdoch, by pandering to the politics of populism. If one compares the time or column inches devoted to George Galloway and Respect compared with those devoted to the last series of “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here” he may draw a conclusion as to why George has sought to broaden his audience. If Glasgow Dave wishes to join us and fight for a world where politics is not simply about which section of the elite a party represents then I for one would be more than happy to put past disagreements behind us and welcome him, I’m afraid until such time I must question his commitment and thus treat his less than constructive comments with the degree of disinterest with which he appears to treat the huge disenfranchised population of this country and the wider world.

If nothing else this rant has garnered Respect a little more vociferous support from me than I had been inclined to give them over the past few months! For my part I would far rather have politicians who are fervently committed to their ideals even if I do not agree with all of them, than a group of faceless spin machines acting like marionettes controlled by some parliamentary Svengali. I will leave readers to make up their own mind as to which category George Galloway fits into. What a pity Glasgow Dave did not choose to come and debate actual political policy a subject that might have served interesting debate but instead fell into the trap of indulging in personality politics.

Song Of The Day ~ The Kooks – You Don’t Love Me

Original Comments:

jimmy sunshine made this comment,
I can’t argue with you on George’s constitutional commitment RB – I don’t get to Befnal Green much myself – but I never had any doubts about George Galloway outside of Celebrity Big Brother. Still, your considered argument hasn’t assuaged my doubts about what he’s doing in there – not the lack of constituency work but the damage he must be doing to the party and to his own media image. To imagine for one minute that his political views would be aired on C4 is madness. Tony Benn figured out the media twenty five years ago and George would’ve done well to consult him before going in – it’s called editing. The charity money going to Interpal is invaluable but again there is no way this is going to put Palestine on the mainstream agenda, even for 30 seconds. I’ll eat my hat if Interpal gets a single mention. So without any credible intervention by George on the popular political front (if there is such a thing), what is left? George playing pussy cat to Rula Lenska’s jumbo (yes, I did see it), or, even more disturbing, joining an angry mob of scapegoaters literally bullying Jodie Marsh into tears? I just can’t see the use of it. To show a human side? Well, that may have been a possibility if the house was populated by humans, instead of space cadets and super-egos. This fact could’ve come as no surprise to George – who else would put themselves into that situation but narcissists, egotists, and desperate self-publicists? Which begs the further question, which one is George? Now I feel more politically disenfranchised than ever before, perhaps because there was a moment when finally the left had a proper party again, with a proper leader. I know politics has to modernise, we live in a different world, politicians – leaders – have to win votes, support, attention by means attractive to a degenerate, brain-dead generation, but is this not just pandering? Does this challenge our apathy? Ken Livingston going back to Labour I can accept – it was his whole life, that is who he is. But this? I just don’t get it, RB.
comment added :: 12th January 2006, 23:39 GMT+01
jimmy sunshine made this comment,
And another thing – that damn frog on the left is f**king annoying. I’m sure it took me three times as long to write that last comment because of the distraction…
comment added :: 12th January 2006, 23:45 GMT+01
Red Baron made this comment,
Well, I can only concede that in terms of what will be the outcome I share your concerns jimmy my friend. But equally I am a cynic and long-time critic of the mass media and I have the luxury of sitting back and sniping whether or not it is constructive. A prominent member of a new political party with the hopes of large swathes of the radical left resting on them does not have the same luxury and perhaps must take risks in case such a gamble may finally chip a hole in the media blackout.
The lack of media coverage of Respect in general has been a frustrating factor, those of us broadly in support of the party have for a long time known that the establishment will not willingly allow such a challenge to its authority but how much ground can one gain by the preaching to the converted?

There is no doubt that George basks in the limelight, but that is exactly why he had enough of a public profile to be irresistable to the media who were expecting him to fail. After all Tam Dalyell, Alice Mahon, Jeremy Corbyn and George himself who had been long time opponents of New Labour had been long since marginalised to obscurity in terms of media coverage. Had Tam Dalyell a principled and eminently able politician of the left stood for Bethnal Green there would have been no media furore and he would probably have lost.

Jodie Marsh is more a product of the vacuous celebrity society rather than the embodiment of it but I think were I locked in a house with her I might well be inclined to verbally knock seven shades of shite out of her!

I agree my faith has been shaken, but one must remember that Respect remains the only show in town. I still have severe doubts about Respect’s agenda to be left-wing enough for my mind but I am mindful of the collapse of the Socialist Alliance which brought much damage to the left in general and its ability to work together.

The disenfranchisement is one of the greatest weapons of the current establishment, to breed despair and apathy and perpetuate that there is no other way and one person cannot make a difference. I do not know the answer mate, all I can think of to do for the moment is to keep in close touch with others who, like me, believe that the current system is bullshit and cannot be allowed to continue unfettered.

I have through chance managed to gain an education and a roof over my head and food in the fridge, there are many who through no fault of their own were less fortunate, if I do not fight for them, those even less powerful than I am, who the hell is going to?

comment added :: 13th January 2006, 00:11 GMT+01 :: http://redbaron.blog-city.com/
Pimme made this comment,
I never watched Big Brother in America. There was even a local guy on once, but that still didn’t entice me.
-Redbaron responds – I think that’s the safest way to manage it. On the whole you never missed much, as anthropological observation the first series was interesting but that was the full extent of it really.-

comment added :: 13th January 2006, 02:28 GMT+01 :: http://pimme.blog-city.com
Glasgow Dave made this comment,
I admit I was probably a little hasty in judging George Galloway on work as an MP although from what I have read he does not attend many commons votes and does not ask many questions. Surely he was elected and was being paid to represent his constitents in Parliament not just locally.
According to the http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/ george_galloway/bethnal_green_and_bow#votingrecord , quoted on on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Galloway “Since being elected in 2005, his participation rate has remained low. At the end of 2005 he had participated in only 15% of votes in the House of Commons since the general election, placing him 634 out of 645 MPs – of the MPs below him in the rankings, five are Sinn Fein members who have an abstentionist policy towards taking their seats, three are the speaker and deputy speakers and therefore ineligible to vote, two have died since the election.” Which according to my maths makes it that 98% of MPs vote more often than him, seems you were right about my statistics, they were way out. As for it being recess, according to the House of Commons website recess ended on the 9th of January. I have not been to Bethnal Green but don’t forgot GG was a Glasgow MP for many years. I have not attacked Tony Blair on this site or any other I visit because thankfully very few are vociforous supporters of the PM. I am not saying that George Galloway was the only bad MP he is just one of many

I accept I am biased against George Galloway because experiences that close family members have had with him. My father was an active member of the War on Want charity, that was the charity George Galloway charged £21000 for expenses in one year (85-86 a lot of money in those days)of which he paid back £1720 due to contested expenses http: //www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/20 03/04/24/ngall124.xml Oh and I didn’t like his praise for Saddam Hussein or his friendship with Tariq Aziz.

By the way I’m not a Labour supporter,I do not like Tony Blair or David Cameron, I did not support the war

-Redbaron responds – I would be very careful basing any argument on the statistics at theyworkforyou.com, the statistics can be misleading, not intentionally but as I found in the case of my own MP one has to be rather careful on the interpretation.

For Independent MPs or members of very small parties there is often far more good that can be done for constituency members in the constituency rather than attending a series of meaningless votes by a government that still holds a large enough majority to generally steamroller anything through. One could argue the pros and cons of national versus local politics but ultimately you are likely to either favour one or the other. You actually orignally said that he was in the 5% of MPs not working for his constituents and not what you have now changed your story to that he is in the 2% not voting in the House of Commons, there is a huge difference in those 2 statements.

I cannot obviously comment on the family dealings you have had with him as I don’t know the facts but as to the Iraq issue one must bear in mind many people were “friends” of Iraq including the Americans, Rumsfeld has visited Saddam more times than George. Many people on the left retained links with the Soviet Union in the vain hope that it may still be the saviour of socialism. Remember the Ba’ath party’s full title is the Ba’ath Socialist Party. Do you offer the same criticism for those in support of the current Burmese administration, or Pinochet or Suharto. Have you castigated the war criminals Bush and Blair or is it merely an intent to pursue a personal agenda?

Regardless of any of this to allow what is a cogent message to be diluted because of a personality or personalities that one disagrees with vexes me greatly because it plays into the hands of the apathy makers and that’s how we are in this mess in the first place. It is all very well to be against the war(s) but if you yourself do nothing about it other than the occasional snipe at those who are standing up to it, it undermines the credibility of your critique somewhat. I would very much like a proper revolutionary left-wing party that is faceless in terms of the public profile of those within but that hasn’t happened since 1902 and isn’t likely to happen again for a while one suspects. Let’s talk about politics not personalities.-

comment added :: 13th January 2006, 12:37 GMT+01 :: http://glasgowdave.blog-city.com
Jimmy Sunshine made this comment,
On Jodie Marsh: http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,16854 98,00.html#article_continue
-Redbaron responds – yes I read the article, one musn’t forget the Germaine herself, generally regarded as someone with more than a modicum of intelligence elected herself to go into the Big Brother house even if she left it some time later. I would not question her judgement of the events but I would question whether or not she has seen an accurate reflection of everything that has gone on in the house since Channel 4’s editing has been something akin to a Sweeney Todd haircut. To produce footage showing strife, bullying and disharmony is sensationalist and exactly what the programers want and the viewers expect, they are being shown the physical and mental titilation they crave and the producers will ensure that this does not get contaminated by anything so high-brow as politics.

comment added :: 13th January 2006, 16:08 GMT+01

So it was very much a legal news day yesterday:

Firstly from the ‘Court Circular’ – George Galloway has won his libel action against the Daily Telegraph. For those not familiar with the story the newspaper which is the most right-wing of the British broadsheet papers published a series of documents which had allegedly been found in the rubble of a recently bombed Iraqi government ministry. These documents asserted that George Galloway had received money from Saddam Hussein to the tune of £375,000 a year. Furthermore it claimed he had misappropriated funds which were supposed to be for an Iraqi child suffering from Leukaemia. The Telegraph in its defence suggested that it had been in the public interest to publish these documents. They claimed that in doing so they were not making a judgement one way or the other as to whether the information was correct. They are now asserting that having lost the case the freedom of information for the press has been seriously compromised.

The media and the press in particular is something I have always been very interested in and I have tried to remain objective in this case because the facts interest me, it has been difficult obviously with George Galloway being considerably closer politically to me than the Torygraph. One thing that I cannot see within the Telegraph’s defence is how they have claimed that no-one has actually proven these documents fake without being able on the flip side to prove their authenticity. So basically what it boils down to is that the newspaper has in its possession documents about a public figure on the other side of the political spectrum which are unsubstantiated. In this instance do they have the right to publish these documents inflicting damage on the public figure? If the case was The Guardian (liberal UK broadsheet) against Jonathan Aitken (former Tory cabinet minister) how would I feel? Well I have chosen that analogy precisely because it did happen, only the difference was that the Guardian was able to prove the genuine nature of its sources and Aitken lost the trial and went to jail for purgery. Leaving aside the events of the two trials I am struck by a contrast in reactions of politicians over the cases. When Aitken said he was going to “stamp out the cancer of bent and twisted journalism” many MPs rallied round him saying that the media should be regulated etc. etc. The same was true around the time of Jeffrey Archer who also went to prison having lied in court during the libel trial against the Daily Mirror (centre left UK tabloid).

Now these 2 examples were during the days of a Conservative government that was not averse to corruption, morally questionable behaviour, lying and hypocrisy, so what of the Labour government now? It is the Labour government that took the BBC to task regarding its reporting the they “sexed up” the intelligence dossier on Iraq to make out that Saddam posed a more imminent threat. The BBC Director-General and Chairman were forced to resign and the reporter Andrew Gilligan was censured because his sources were not apparently corroborated. It now transpires that Gilligan’s assertion was quite correct and in fact the government had used uncorroborated sources to apply the ’45 minute claim’ against the advice of the intelligence community. The BBC D-G and Chairman have not been reinstated nor have the government even issued any statement of contrition. The parallel with the Galloway situation bears observation as the Labour party expelled George Galloway shortly after the Telegraph article but veiled under the guise that he was not consistent with party policy. The fact that Galloway’s politics had not been consistent with central Labour party policy for over 10 years was not mentioned. Suffice to say I suspect George is not expecting an apology or even less likely a call back to the party having been exonerated of the charges of ‘treason’ as some claimed. I would hope and expect that were George to receive such an invitation he would at least have a little more integrity than Ken Livingstone who practically bit the arm off the Chief Whip after a cynical Labour Party U-Turn.

Secondly David Bieber, the man who was on trial for the murder of one policeman and the attempted murder of two more was convicted and sentenced to life (whole life) with no prospect of release. It transpires that Bieber was in fact wanted in US for the murder of his wife’s lover but that he had been released on bail whilst the case was assembled and when the police in the US were ready to arrest him he fled. He escaped to Britain where he was at large for 10 years. I found the case interesting that the US is currently insisting on extensive screenings on anyone scheduled to come into the country and yet someone leaving appears to have a far easier time of things. I’ll grant you it was 10 years ago when the US was more lackadaisical but even so I found it ironic nonetheless.

Song Of The Day – E.L.O. – Evil Woman

Original Comments:

Mark Ellott made this comment,
I’ve commented on this over at my blog. The Telegraph’s main defence seems to be that old adage “public interest” and “freedom of the press”. However, they have a responsibility to determine a story’s provenance before going to press. If the story is untrue or defamatory, then it is libel. The treason charge was a ludicrous one and merely added to the libellous nature of the story. They deserved to lose. It is not, as they claimed on the steps of the court, a “black day for journalism.” They broke the rules and got caught. Tough. No sympathy.
Visit me @ http://longrider.blog-city.com

[Redbaron responds – Exactly, spot on, I failed to put it better myself!]

comment added :: 4th December 2004, 11:35 GMT+01
Danny the Infidel made this comment,
It seam to be a thin line between public interest and sensationalistic press. We have had some cases here where news papers have been pounced by the Press Ombudsman. In one case a newspaper reviled the photo and identity of a suspect in a high profile murder case, when he still was just held for questioning. The person was later able to sue the paper.
To claim that the fact that they didn’t made and judgement on whether the information was correct or not seam to be rather like how the Fox News are playing the game with there hints of ‘some people say’ and ‘it have been said’. Then you just want to avoid responsibility and spread gossip.
I belive that the press should be extremly free, but in the same time I cale for stricter ethical thinking among the journalists them self.
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comment added :: 4th December 2004, 17:41 GMT+01
Mark Ellott made this comment,
My own feeling is that they know damn well what they are doing and go for the publish and be damned approach. Libel or not, they sell an awful lot of newspapers that way. And, true or not, the Baghdad documents made good copy. However, tight regulation could mean governments suppressing stories that criticise them and that isn’t a good thing either. I think, on balance what happened here was a good thing as it was a timely reminder that libel costs and they can’t expect to get away with it carte blanche.
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[Redbaron responds – I heard a guy from Cairo put it into perspective – “In the darkness within the rubble of a bombed Iraqi government building a Telegraph journalist was looking around when a document fluttered down and it happened to be a document that explained in English how George Galloway was in the pay of Saddam Hussein.” This seemed to sum up the lunacy of the whole situation.]

comment added :: 4th December 2004, 20:46 GMT+01
Mark Ellott made this comment,
As Harry Hill would say; “What’s the chances of that?”
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comment added :: 5th December 2004, 10:18 GMT+01
Pimme made this comment,
Stealing from charity is horrible.
Sure, the US takes precautions if someone wants to enter, but if a known felon wants to leave, then I suppose the government is glad to be rid of him. ;^)

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[Redbaron responds – Indeed stealing from charity is morally repugnant, which is why if you are going to accuse someone of it you have a duty to ensure that the allegation has some founding. Accusations such as this are very damaging whatever the outcome. Just like accuse a man of rape and women will always be suspicious of him whether or not he was innocent. It’s the ‘throw enough mud and some of it will stick’ principle.]

comment added :: 6th December 2004, 01:17 GMT+01
Rachel made this comment,
The US is simply glad to have them out of their hair…I’m sure.
What a long post. And it’s only 7:26 in the morning. I promise I’ll report back when I’m most assuredly alive.

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comment added :: 6th December 2004, 13:26 GMT+01
Diogenes made this comment,
Is anyone going to investigate where the Galloway forgery came from? It is reminiscent of those KGB allegations against the Labour Party.
On the other issue, the Washington Sniper case showed that crossing jurisdictional borders is a good tactic for criminals.

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comment added :: 7th December 2004, 01:36 GMT+01
A visitor made this comment,
Isn’t it great that Galloway won? And the Ukrainian vox pop won! Could this all indicate a turning in the tide of deceit towards an era of truth and justice?
Hey, come and vote for me! I’ve been nominated something or other.

comment added :: 7th December 2004, 16:50 GMT+01