ONE OF THE FEW pleasures of being right-wing in Scotland is that I get to remind people that I always thought George Galloway was a cunt. (He once called me a cunt, too, which I suppose makes us even.) It's not easy, talking to young people, to explain that there was a time - some years ago now, it's true - when a consensus hadn't yet fully crystallised around this essential truth, and some folk still insisted that the dictator-loving cunt was just a bit of a twat; whereas this past week it has been hard to move for people complaining, loudly and vociferously, about his cuntishness. I know that writing ‘cunt’ offends some readers, so I’ll stop using it in a moment or two, but when you set your mind to writing a paragraph about George Galloway, then at some stage or other you are going to find at least one ‘cunt’ hurtling inexorably in your direction, so in my experience it’s as well to get it out of the way early on.
I don't really have much to say about the views that Galloway expressed this week on the l'affaire Assange and rape, beyond admitting that I can easily understand why, given his legendary exploits, that the chore of having to ask permission before “each and every insertion” might well tire out even this most loquacious of lotharios. But I do want to make a few observations about what the Assange circus tells us about the Left more generally.
One of the most commonly trotted out clichés about the Left is that, whether you agree or not with their vision for society, at least you can't dispute that they mean well. The Assange case demonstrates that, in anything but the most banal sense in which all humans have some good in them, this is not true.
Instead, we now being treated to the extraordinary spectacle of Naomi Wolf, one of the foremost feminist writers of the past two decades, using the sexual history of alleged rape victims to discredit them, and arguing for their anonymity to be waived in the name of ‘transparency’.
We see John Pilger, writing in this week's New Statesman, arguing with what appears to be a straight face that as Assange has not been charged with a crime (actually due to the technical nuances of Swedish law requiring him to be arrested first), he is therefore not a fugitive from justice, which must be news to the fucking Ecuadorians.
And, of course, we see the loathsome Galloway jettisoning his few remaining allies with gusto, even the titular head of his own party - the mordantly named ‘Respect’ - lining up to denounce him.
These people have for years condemned the Western establishment for its hypocrisy; for crusading against leftwing dictatorship while propping up the Pinochets and Sauds of this world, or pointing out the inconsistency of claiming to be fighting for the liberation of Afghan women while sexual discrimination remains rife in our own societies. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, they told us. Our societies are unequal and the downtrodden are forgotten, they said; let’s make the fight against privilege and unfairness the centre of our political mission.
The Assange case exposes this as a lie.
It’s entirely clear, from their many pronouncements on the matter, that not only do these crusaders for justice and progressive values believe Assange to be innocent of the charges against him (which, of course, he may well be) but, more crucially, they couldn’t give a shit if he’s guilty or not. Galloway made this explicit in his tweets on the subject during the week; since these women are “stooges” of the Pentagon “claque”, their alleged rapist should not be extradited. The possibility that they might be telling the truth, that Assange might be a sex pest at best and a danger to women at worst, is brusquely dismissed and the women presumed to be lying.
It’s fine to fuck a woman against her will as long as you have enough Chomsky on your bookshelf; if you are willing to stick it to the man, it seems, who cares where else you stick it?
This is the principle which has informed the hard Left for decades. Who cares if Hugo Chavez shuts down independent media, or Fidel Castro locks up dissidents? They spit on the Stars and Stripes, so they’re welcome in the fold. Anti-Semitic nutjob threatening Israel with Armageddon? Even better, as long as your heart is in the right place.
Even vile despots like Pol Pot or Kim Jong-Il are not beyond the pale, so long as their crimes can be weaved into a narrative of defiance against US imperialism. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sordid. At least when conservative politicians have dealt with dictators, they’ve usually had the good grace to look like they were holding their noses as they did it.
Get this into your head, reader: the hard Left are not “nice”. Their hearts are not “in the right place”. They denounce capitalism even as they take the shilling of regimes that would execute dissident voices like theirs without bothering to convene so much as a kangaroo court. They preach a bitter, archaic creed of class warfare and hate, because the world has moved on and left them and their ossified ideologies high and dry.
If ever there were a 21st Century version of the Red Army rolling in to restore order, George Galloway would be the first “tankie” onto the streets to lay out the bunting for the advancing Soviets.
The man himself is unrepentant. “You baying useful idiots”, he tweeted on Tuesday, “are about to feel very foolish indeed.” It is clear that George Galloway passed that point long, long ago.