The voters decide: Galloway is evicted from 'Big Brother' to face public ridicule
Thursday 26 January 2006
A week may be a long time in politics but for George Galloway the bizarre events of the last 21 days could yet account for a whole career.
The elected Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow was voted out of the Celebrity Big Brother house last night with 64.7 per cent of the ballot by a public unimpressed by his brazen-self-confidence.
Despite the cat-calls and jeers a smiling Mr Galloway blew kisses to the crowd as he emerged from the house a political climate distinctly chillier to the one he left when he entered three weeks ago.
For the first time since his self-imposed incarceration the 51-year-old politician was informed of the debate and ridicule his appearance on the show has generated among fellow MPs and constituents.
Shown the newspaper headlines of the last few weeks by presenter Davina McCall Galloway's first response was a feint "Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear".
However he was adamant that taking part in the show had been a good idea.
"We are a different kind of political force. We want to talk directly to people. We want to show them that there's more important people to talk to than parliamentarians," he said.
"The public out there behind their curtains in their living rooms have to be reached and reached in the best way we can. It was worth a try I think. If I have half-impressed half the people that will be a very big gain."
Asked if was glad he had done the show, Galloway replied: "Well not after I've seen those press cuttings."
Yesterday had started well for Galloway when he won the latest stage of his battle against the Daily Telegraph, after an appeal court upheld a £150,000 libel award over allegations that he received money from Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.
But even as that victory was celebrated by his supporters, embarrassing video images emerged of the MP glad handing Saddam's son, Uday, in 1999.
Yet, surreally, when it comes to Mr Galloway's reputation with the public, it may be that his links with Saddam's Iraq count for less than his dealings with a former game-show host and a transvestite former pop star.
When he walked through the doors and into the isolated world of Channel 4's reality game show Mr Galloway admitted he had taken a gamble.
"It is a chance to show a large and different audience what I'm really like," he announced at the start of the show, claiming it offered a new way to communicate political ideals to a younger audience. A spectacular appearance before the US Senate last year, to discuss his relationship with Saddam's regime, was successfully used for just such a rhetorical purpose.
But thrown together with an assortment of characters with little interest in political discussion --including former television host Michael Barrymore, actress Rula Lenska and transvestite singer Pete Burns - Mr Galloway found that the agenda for this show was set elsewhere.
As a result the man lionised by many of his supporters turned out to be a pussy-cat - in more ways than one. Galloway was forced to dress up in a skin-tight red catsuit, pretend to be a cat licking milk from the lap of Ms Lenska and dance like a Teddy Boy - activities which saw him condemned both inside and outside the Big Brother house.
Supporters claim his words have been edited by programme makers who cite legal obligations to keep all political debates balanced. For their part housemates have variously described him as a "manipulative bully"; "two-faced"; "unworthy of respect"; "a wicked, wicked, wicked man" and "as democratic as a Nazi".
"He's gone from imitating a cat to wearing a catsuit. Next he'll be advertising cat food. I actually feel sorry for him because that's the only future he's got." said Labour MP Steve Pound.
While he was inside the Big Brother House Galloway missed a key Commons debate on a new rail link through his constituency, infuriating Michael Keith, leader of Tower Hamlets council.
"In recent weeks there have been important issues which needed representations and he was not there," said Mr Keith.
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