Paul Anderson, Tribune column, November 26 2004
Say what you like about the government, the state of British football or the weather, it has been a marvellous couple of weeks for observers of the ludicrous antics of the British far left.
The biggest spectacle, of course, has been George Galloway’s libel action against the Telegraph in the High Court — unresolved as I write — which has been remarkable for the forthright way in which Gorgeous George explained his famous greeting to Saddam Hussein: “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.”
The MP for Glasgow Kelvin — and soon-to-be Respect Coalition (George Galloway) parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow in London’s East End — said he was merely conveying the solidarity of the Palestinian people, whom he’d just met, to the Iraqi people, who would be informed of his salutation by Saddam — aka "Sir". And the Telegraph’s headline, “Saddam’s little helper”, was, he told the court, losing his calm momentarily, nothing less than “a dagger, a sword right through the heart of my political life”. Ooo-er.
To be honest, though, more heat than light emerged from the Galloway-Telegraph show — and for much of the past fortnight it has been almost eclipsed by the shenanigans surrounding another Scottish charmer of the left, Tommy Sheridan, member of the Scottish Parliament and perma-tanned figurehead of the Scottish Socialist Party, which Galloway refused to join after being expelled by Labour.
The story that did the rounds was that Galloway refused to accept the SSP policy of parliamentary representatives taking only an average worker’s wage from their salary: I am happy to report that Galloway says this was down to Sheridan misunderstanding a joke.
Anyway, Sheridan hit the headlines for resigning from the SSP leadership amid tabloid allegations that he had engaged in rumpy-pumpy with a woman other than his wife, Gail, who is pregnant. Sheridan, who came to prominence as the public face in Scotland of the Trotskyist Militant Tendency’s anti-poll-tax campaign in the late 1980s, denied the scurrilous allegations, said he simply wanted to spend more time with his family-to-be and promised he’d sue.
It seemed like end of story. But then it emerged that the SSP executive had forced him to resign for reasons that were at least in part related to his personal life — if not the story that had been splashed over the Sunday newspaper — and there were reports that he had been stitched up by his enemies in the SSP, who had not only conspired to evict him but had also fed the bourgeois media with various sex-romp claims. All the contenders for Mr Sheridan’s coveted position as leader of the SSP are, incidentally, former members of the Militant Tendency.
Phew! And that was before the return of the Redgraves, glory be, to the political fray, with two members of the famous acting family, Vanessa and Corin, announcing a new political party, Peace and Progress (click here), to fight the next general election.
Younger readers of Tribune might think that Vanessa and Corin Redgrave are no more than distinguished thespians with vaguely leftist views — that’s certainly the picture you’d get from the fawning pieces on their new initiiative in the Guardian (click here) and the Observer (click here) — but in fact it ain’t so.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the pair were leading lights in the Workers’ Revolutionary Party, a mad Trostskyist cult, led by the psychopathic Gerry Healy, that was revealed in the mid-1980s to have solicited and taken substantial sums of cash from Arab nationalist dictatorships, including Muammar al-Gaddafi’s Libya and, yup, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, in return for favours that included grassing up exiles to their secret police forces (click here, here and here).
The scandal of the WRP’s Middle East pimping came to light after Healy’s sexual abuse of young women members of the WRP was exposed — and it destroyed the party. Yet the Redgraves remained loyal to their leader even after his disgrace. However inspiring they are on the stage, they have a record of political lunacy matched by no one else alive. There is no evidence whatsoever that they regret anything they have ever done.
And the moral of the story? Sorry, but it’s very simple. These people are at best comedians and at worst mountebanks of the worst kind. There is no credible left challenge to Labour at the next election anywhere in Britain. Vote tactically for the Lib Dems, for sure, but don’t waste your time on the candidates of the far left. They are, without exception, a very bad joke.