Denis MacShane: Poor George. He has become a joke figure

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The Independent Online

George Galloway demeans Parliament, shames politics, abuses democracy, and his latest cavorting in the soft-porn sleazy bedrooms of Big Brother will destroy for ever what standing he has with British Muslims.

How has this come about? What has happened to one of the most gifted orators on the post-war left that he elects to become a modern-day Harold Davidson, the Vicar of Stiffkey. The latter was a noted church preacher of the early 20th century who ended his days performing in a lion's cage, such was his craving for headlines and notoriety. A lion ate him in 1932 and that was the end of the Vicar of Stiffkey.

Galloway's fate will be decided by the sensible voters of east London who must be asking themselves why they lost the services and hard-working brilliance of the Jewish-African-American, Oona King, for someone who has been denounced in the Commons as Saddam Hussein's "Lord Haw-Haw".

MPs have a special privilege which comes with election. It is not the money or allowances, nor the ephemeral chance to slide up the greasy pole of ministerial ambition - a pole which seems far better at allowing "here today and gone tomorrow" ministers to crash to the bottom. It is the raw pleasure of using Parliament as a tribune to advance big or small causes.

Two hundred years ago William Wilberforce used Parliament to abolish slavery. When Galloway was a baby, an MP called Sydney Silverman did the same to abolish hanging. Tony Banks drove ministers mad over abolishing fox hunting, but he got his way. Galloway is one of the most polished Parliamentarians in the business. Yet he rarely, if ever, appears in the Commons to make his case.

And that is perhaps the rub. After two decades in Parliament and 10 years before that as a leading Scottish politician and then head of War on Want, what does Galloway stand for? He claims to support the cause of Muslims worldwide. Yet he opposed Tony Blair and Robin Cook when they organised the war in Kosovo which stopped the mass murder of European Muslims by the Serb thug Milosevic.

The biggest mass murderer of Muslims in modern history, with the blood of hundreds of thousands of Iranian, Kuwaiti and his fellow Iraqi Muslims on his hands, is Saddam Hussein. When I worked in Geneva in the Nineties the most feared individual there was Saddam's brother who organised the terror and assassin networks that killed Saddam's opponents all over Europe and the Middle East.

Yet in one of the most bizarre conversions ever seen in politics, Galloway decided that the democratic Western powers were a bigger enemy to everything he as a socialist and democrat stood for than the evil of the Iraqi dictator.

From his speech of praise to Saddam's face to donning pyjamas in a television freak show, this is the fastest descent of talent, ability and burning desire to change the world into the nothingness of modern mass media exploitation.

Poor George. He came to make the world a better place. He has made himself a joke figure. What a waste.

Denis MacShane is the Labour MP for Rotherham

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