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Rough Notes in response to k-punk on Galloway

I wouldn’t go as far as saying I feel sorry for MPs, but there is a certain sort of ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ mechanism at play, abroad. If you somehow try to display that you are ‘in touch’ [by talking about football or music, or appearing on a popular TV prog], you’re inevitably derided as vapidly trendy, or cynical, or ‘should be doing REAL MP stuff…’ But then if you don’t, you’re decried as OUT OF TOUCH on a big salary, a dry as dust policy wonk, etc…

And like most MPs, Galloway is too much of a hard core politico to be truly ‘in touch’ (which is probably as should be); which is to say, they may have caught bits of TV programmes or music or gossip or etc, but they don’t spend their lives immersed in the logic-flo of popular culture and analysing it every which way – as per sad po mo kultur wonks like me/us … so perhaps inevitably Galloway had this really rather sweetly deluded idea (really rather 1979 Scritti!: two to the Double G!) that he could ‘occupy the enemy space of Celeb Big Brother’ and somehow ‘get his ideas across’… as if it were a vacuum without rules and power floes all its own…

(He actually said, in a quiet moment, to Rula, how disappointed he was, because he thought the “younger people” would be more interested in the business of being an MP, would at least be asking him ‘what’s that Tony Blair really like then?” etc…)

On the one hand Galloway does have a superficial soupcon more class or style (that’s what and all he depends on, fundamentally, along with an appeal to nostalgia for a time when tru-Left logic ruled). But he has no flexibility – maybe he’s too used to dealing entirely with YES people - people who follow him anywhere (no matter how absurd or obscene or silly) - or NO people. Those are the only modes he knows. I listened to the Hitchens v Galloway debate and he was dreadful. He was pure Labour Party Conference 1975 – the PULPIT is the only discourse he can deal with/in. Whatever you think of Hitchens – he at least had marshalled facts and quotes and research and actual moral/ethical positions galore to confront GG with. Galloway was just baroque personal insult, insult, insult, groundless sarcasm, playground mickey take. (And his craven supporters in the crowd – didn’t they love it, sado-masochistic fools.) Hitchens asked to start proceedings with a minute’s silence for [I can't remember the facts, the debate is still probably up on the Net somewhere] 20 or 40 or 60 dead Iraqi civilians – who’d been killed by the so called “insurgents” that day. Galloway actually mocked this (some of his ‘supporters’ in the crowd boo’d during the silence if I remember correctly) and praised the bravery and patriotism of the “resistance” or “insurgents”. Me – I think that’s obscene and stupid, and obscenely stupid, even if it’s what he thinks passes for “tactical” these days … how far can you take ‘the enemy of my [American] enemy is my friend’ logic, really, without it becoming morally (masochistically, suicidally) self-cancelling?

His lack of flexibility in dealing with people – and his fundamental Bullyboy nature - have shown up nicely in CBB. Not only has he found no alternative ways of ‘getting his ideas’ across but he seems mystified by other people. Except Rula the actress – maybe that’s no coincidence: it being not their age they have in common but more that they both know how to play a role…

The thing with Jodie is typical.
He could have impressed viewers by being fatherly – patronising yes but better than what he has done. Yes, she IS appalling. Really appalling. But she is also quite obviously damaged. Really really damaged. In fact the combination of relentless “sex” talk – and at the same time this dead-eyed joyless fear-of-the-world air makes me wonder: childhood ABUSE (?)

Instead of just joining in with Pete Burns misogynistic playground baiting, Galloway could have been either genuinely or tactically kind to her… but no. His prime or primal mode – BULLY BOY – came right to the fore.

The thing about – ‘he shouldn’t be there because he should be doing his average every day real constituency work’… well, it’s one thing to do all the standard media appearances – but this is out of the ordinary (“some sort of brothel” indeed!), and anyway his CBB appearance may be a final straw rather than some uncharacteristic one-off misjudgement: The Week quotes an article in The Independent: "... since the election he has had one of the worst attendance records in the Commons, coming 643rd out of 645 MPs." Also, it's specific grumbles rather than just biz-as-usual stuff: " [While] languishing in the Big Brother house ... [Galloway] has missed a Parliamentary deabte on the cross-London rail link, which passes through his constituency, as well as the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha..."

Besides, Galloway isn't just any MP. He (over) relies on his self-proclaimed reputation for being a no-bullshit truth teller amongst careerist opportunist scum bags. He is a Left paragon, not a slime ball – or so he’d like everyone to think. But if you then go on CBB and DON’T do any truth telling or idea mongering you just look like … a careerist opportunist scum bag, and not a particularly adept one, at that. You've pissed off your constituents - and affected nothing on a larger media scale, either.


{Why WAS Galloway asked, anyway, do we think? Were any other politicos asked before him? Do they consider this hell-is-other-people imprisonment actually a fitting form of “punishment” for his wartime treacheries?

{{But it could have been worse – you know if Blair had gone in there you can imagine him in psychedelic surfer shorts and being all like “What does everyone think of the new [consults notes] Eminem album? Rad isn’t it?”}}

{{{As for Aaranovitch – never liked him, partly because he’s sometimes so infuriatingly reasonably rationally soberly right. Like he’s said in the past – bring up the intricacies of policy making and People Like Me, we’ll just say: ‘Oh but that Tony Blair – he just makes my skin crawl…’ Or: “Oh, they’re all just SPIN aren’t they…” And I have been as guilty of that sort of laziness as anyone else. {As, in fact, see above my pathetic bitchy remark about surfer shorts and Eminem!!!!!} In 2003 when this blog started, in the run up to War, I wasn’t so kneejerk and lazy. For months on end I was a dutiful politico, I sourced everything, tracked down footnotes, facts, etc. But I just found it all too relentlessly depressing in the end… and it IS a problem when you find Blair or Galloway or Geldof so off-putting on a personal (soundbyte-y) level that you can’t be bothered to dig thru to actual facts and figures etc against which to argue … it then just becomes the flip side of people who say ‘that Bob Geldof, ee’s a diamond innee?’ or ‘that Bono, ee’s so radical innit? …’


This, just in -
5.05, SKY News

There are such things as I never wanted to see in my life, but I just had to confront one of them: George Galloway, down on his hands and knees, being stroked and wiped and petted and treated like a pussy cat by Rula Lenska, while eating gruel out of a bowl.
{My 5 cats have all just walked sulkily out of the pawboy Bunker... must we throw this awfulness at felines everywhere?)

You see this is just the point: Galloway has this smug idea that he can 'occupy' a popular kultur redoubt ... but he's probably never watched a minute of Big Brother in his life, and so isn't aware of what 'rules' he may have to conform to in this particular House.

And if you ARE going to go about like a spoiled dilettante, it might help if you were able to turn round to snooty right-wing critics and snap: 'Ah, my friend, but my attendance record in the Commons is spotless, how is yours?'

Tactically, it's all just a dog's dinner, isn't it? Or should that be cat's supper?

posted by Ian 1/13/2006 01:55:00 PM

Don't have much to disagree with here (cept for the stuff on David A; I read his columns fairly assiduously and they've never struck me as particularly fact or policy dense [unlike, say, Johann Hari's]).... BUT I'm not interested so much in defending Galloway as in calling his critics to account. The criticisms strike me as an ugly mix of New Lab score-settling and anti-popular culture snobbery. It's only three weeks for chrissake, not a six month cruise (btw, since his attendance record is appalling any way, what difference is the BB thing supposed to make?)
O btw, I take it you've seen the other GG (last year's) in the Guardian today on the bullying thing: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1685458,00.html
ooo and on the reasons why Galloway was asked: did you see Peter Bazalgette on This Week last night? He said that George is 'great value... good entertainment'... made me think that, really, it's entertainment that is the problem, whose terms must be contested...
o, and finally, the cat thing also made the front of the Evening Standard...
NB+PS, marK, it was never that i thought yr original [in both senses] thoughts on GG needed contesting or anything - it was a response proceeding from, rather than a challenge particularly to, a rhizome sprouting off from, and that's one of the problems written into mainstream brit politico discourse isn't it, it always has to split down some perceived line or other, pro or anti, left or right, modernisers v conservatives, like this lib damn candidate the other night i heard him seh, he wanted the party to be "modern" and "popular" - meaning WHAT exactly? as opposed to WHAT exactly!? medieval and UNpopular??!!
the (other) pawboy
PS2: i hadn't read the Greer piece. cool. neat description of Burns. will be interesting to see who DOES get 86'd by the public tonite...
re: "ruthless editing" - Galloway's agent invw'd on SKY also complained along these lines: GG was being "censored" by the programme makers... but i think it's precisely the dead-time Live footage where we often catch (out) people looking the other way... {oddly, if you watch the Live footage during the day on E4, then click to E4+1, they are also running Live footage ... but... i don't know, from another time frame...? so that you see the same person Live in two different rooms or shirts... or moods. the first time this happened I experienced a few moments of distinctly P.K. Dick like disjunction...
by the by, more on Aaronovitch here:

On the divisive thing - yeh, Galloway generates it, trades on it. You're forced to be either pro or anti. A haze of partisan unreason blocks me from seeing what I know is true. He's like Scargill-lite; I get that same thing I used to get with Arthur where I know he's self-defeating, his own worst enemy, preening, egotistical to the point of megalomania, a strategic disaster and yet I DON'T WANT HIM to be.

btw, one thing that all the Galloway coverage has brought to mind again is the oddly disproportionate media presence BB has in relation to its audience share. For instance, I heard that Soapstar Superstar actually, incredibly, gets more viewers than CBB - but CBB gets pages of coverage in the tabloids, tons of coverage in broadcast news, Soapstar hardly gets a mention.
Those pictures of him pretending to be a cat - he'll never live them down now, will he? They'll haunt him. You can just hear the sign-off of futur opponents: "- oh, like a cat, you mean? ... [titter titter]."

They've alredy become ... oh no, they're .. oh yes ... ICONIC!

Now: off to channel hop between The West Wing and CBB ...
on the E4+1 thing.... it's just the same coverage an hour later isn't it?
I don't know though. Watching Jodie Marsh was just heartbreaking. I think you could be correct about the abuse thing, Ian; it would, at least, explain a lot. That unstable, pretty much uncontrollable, desire for attention (spilling all over the place!) plus persecution complex (to some extent justified, I thought). She supports an anti-bullying charity, admits to being "bullied" all her life, and then walks into a situation where she is unremittingly bullied (and mostly, but certainly not always, courts it: that's the fascinating, heartbreaking thing)...and yet has this large IQ (136?). I am one of the few stalwart defenders of Paris Hilton and Nicole Ricthie in the country, so I possibly alone again or (once more), but couldn't help feeling a uh certian uh empathy. The things that come out of her mouth...caught somehwere between Silvia Saint and William Styron.

As for Galloway, and I'm sure I'm one of those Mark attacks, but I don't think him being on CBB is such a big deal. Compared to, say, flying over to Damsacus to tell Syrians how lucky they are to have Assad for a dictator, for example.

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