Galloway defends his right to free speech over Iraq claims

Click to follow
Indy Politics

George Galloway mounted a spirited defence of his conduct yesterday at a disciplinary hearing into allegations that he urged troops not to fight in Iraq.

The maverick MP for Glasgow Kelvin, who is suspended from the Labour party and could be expelled, said that he planned to "win" as he appeared before Labour's National Constitutional Comm- ittee. He was questioned for several hours about interviews he gave to Arab news channels in which he urged British troops to disobey "illegal" orders. The MP is believed to have argued that he was expressing his strongly-held personal views and exercising his right to freedom of speech.

The party is considering a number of charges against Mr Galloway, including engaging in conduct "prejudicial" or "in an act which is grossly detrimental to the party".

Many senior Labour figures at the party's London headquarters want to expel the MP, who met Saddam Hussein. But Mr Galloway is expected to stand as an independent at the next election if he is evicted from the party after more than 30 years as a member.

The party is likely to face a backlash from many ordinary Labour members who will accuse senior figures of acting like bullies or "control freaks" if he is thrown out.

Labour sources believe that their treatment of Ken Livingstone, who was forced to stand as an independent candidate for mayor of London after Labour failed to select him, has backfired. The party says it has been trying to shed its reputation for being obsessed with spin and control.

But some Labour MPs believe that Mr Galloway has been using the Labour Party as a "flag of convenience". The committee of 11, including trade union representatives, is expected to report today but may wait several days before reaching a verdict.