George Galloway puts himself about as energetically as ever. MP for the English constituency of Bradford, and therefore an English MP (a description at which he takes great offence!) and leader of a minority party, Respect, he seems to find his constituency and Westminster duties so undemanding that he finds loads of time to tour Scotland campaigning against independence – not exactly a minister without portfolio but more opportunist with a carpetbag.
On this second of the Newsnicht specials, he and Jim Sillars are interviewed by three of BBC Scotland’s finest – Isabel Fraser, Gary Robertson and Laura Bicker, BBC network news correspondent based in Scotland who will be part of the new team for Scotland 2014, Newsnight’s replacement for the Referendum.
What can one usefully say about Galloway? He is unfailingly entertaining, the more so since he has lost any real relevance he ever had to British politics, and this doubtless explain the “thousands – thousands – who pay to hear me speak!”, as he boasts vaingloriously here.
In this intimate studio session, he fails to adapt his mass meeting style – loud blustering, hectoring – and totally inappropriate to such a setting – and trots out all the old rhetorical tricks, failed mantras and soundbytes in his trademark style of faux internationalist socialism that is as dead as the dodo. (It is now the stock-in-trade of the right-wing Labour Party that replaced the People’s Party around 1951, and achieved its apotheosis under Blair, Brown and Mandelson.)
Galloway is not only wrong, he “is wrong at the top of his voice”.
Jim Sillars retains his calm, and his considerable dignity in the face of Galloway’s Monkland’s Labour-backroom-style interruptions and attempts at point-scoring, and wins hands down in intellectual terms. Sillars’ reputation is secure in Scotland, as is his place in Scotland’s history. Galloway, in contrast, will be a footnote in UK history.
He can, of course, aspire to replace Tony Benn as a national treasure of the Old Left, to be patronised by people he affects to despise, but I think the affection quotient for this politician - who squandered his formidable oratorical talents in my view - will be sadly lacking.