Simon Carr: Might the Pavarotti of politics call the tune in a hung parliament?

The Sketch

Related Topics

What a voice he has, George Galloway. He's the Pavarotti of politics.

Apart from the stomach and the money and...Well, apart from everything in fact but he does have the voice of a great theatrical singer, strong, cadenced, smooth, textured. And when his passions get going the voice keeps up. It's an old-fashioned political instrument that can fill a hall without an amp, I never listen to Galloway's big speeches for fear of what I'll end up believing.

"Didn't you get the email I sent you some months ago?" he asked and I said I hadn't. "It was about one of your sketches. Even by your standards it was ..." He paused to consider the next word and I confess I went into the brace position. He has a reputation for invective. That description of Christopher Hitchens as a "bloated, drink-soaked popinjay" could be quickly reworked for this occasion by a mind as deft as his.

And what else did he have in his greatest hits – that thing he said in the Commons in an Iraq debate, was it? About the "special relationship"? He didn't want us in the relationship that Monica Lewinsky had with Bill Clinton, "illicit, humiliating and with the junior partner always on its knees". That made some of us very happy, I can still feel the afterglow.

Just in the hour or so we tag along with him he says several memorable things. "We are the ghosts of Labour's past", for one. And Tony Blair had "flown the party to destruction". And Trident offers "mutual incineration". These have rhetorical force because they aren't bromides off a briefing sheet.

And here's a point. In a hung parliament, rhetoric, oratory, speaking will matter. The ability to carry the House may – for the first time in decades – actually have an effect on the vote. George, with or without the rest of his candidates, has a good chance of meaning something.

"One poll has just three seats difference between Labour and Conservative. And we have three candidates standing. My wife asked me what that meant. I told her, it means I'm going to be foreign secretary." He smiled, without laughing.

"And what will your first act as foreign secretary be, George?" he was asked.

"Withdrawal from Ireland," he replied in his impeccable Scots. "As a pairson of Irish background that would be my fairst priority."

You'll want to know about his buttressed, cross-braced, interlocking policy platform. But here's the short version: "You'd never vote against a Labour coalition, even if David Miliband was leading it?"

"No," he said firmly. "It's an honour to disagree with you," he quoted the Telegraph's late sketch writer Frank Johnson. The remark appears in George's campaign literature.

The BNP isn't running in the constituency – it's a shame for George as they take Labour votes, but not Respect votes. The competition for the seat is a Labour MP who was, or has been, a minister of some sort. I'm pretty sure I've heard him in the House, but can't retrieve anything about him. If we were playing Hangman with his name you'd still wouldn't get him at the stage of J_M F_T_P_TR_CK. There's no need to be unpleasant you say, and you're probably right. He's a lamb. But he must be sacrificed in the interests of the sketching community, as they say in this part of Limehouse.

PS. Galloway's unfinished verdict on the Sketch began with the word "unusually". Readers are invited to complete the thought for themselves.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Read Next

I don't blame parents who move to get their child into a good school

Chris Blackhurst
William Hague, addresses delegates at the Conservative party conference for the last time in his political career in Birmingham  

It’s only natural for politicians like William Hague to end up as journalists

Simon Kelner
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago