SO. Farewell then (for now) George Galloway, defeated Respect MP for Bradford West and self-styled champion of Britain’s (and on occasion the world’s) Muslims – but only when those Muslims aren’t Muslim women with ideas above their station.
Aisha Ali Khan, his former parliamentary assistant, had the temerity to report her boss to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) for using her as his servant. Even though taxpayers paid her salary, she alleged, Galloway made her spend most of her time running errands – shopping for his underwear, for instance, and planning his wedding.
Galloway denied the charges and gave killer details he hoped would destroy Khan’s credibility among conservative Muslims. “Aisha Ali Khan is a proven liar,” a statement thundered, “and convicted criminal, who was jailed for contempt of court.” Galloway somehow forgot to mention, however, that the courts quashed her jail sentence on appeal.
Explaining how he could have employed such a dreadful woman, the statement continued: "Ali Khan was sacked by George Galloway for incompetence, for sleeping with her lover [Afiz] Khan in the MP’s house while he was absent…” If that hint wasn’t bad enough, he alleged Ali Khan had bought underpants not for him, but “for another of her lovers”.
In other words, Galloway was telling Muslims that his former assistant was a lying slut. His followers then piled in. She “gives real women a bad name”, one wrote under the online statement. Given the racist rhetoric which flourishes in Galloway’s Respect, his supporters claimed that only an agent of the Jews would want to criticise the great leader. “Desperate measures by the infamous Aisha Ali Khan and her Israeli lawyers,” said one commentator. “I think she is on Mossad pay list,” said another.
Galloway demanded that the director of public prosecutions “investigate false statements” from Ali Khan “which are clearly intended to influence the outcome of the election in Bradford West”. He added that he would bring libel cases against Ali Khan, the Sun on Sunday, Daily Mail and Times, which had reported her initial complaint.
‘Put up or shut up’
Fighting talk. But Galloway’s ability to bully critics into silence isn’t what it was. In March his Bradford lawyers demanded £5,000 plus VAT and an apology from Twitter users who had allegedly called him anti-Semitic or shown the smallest sympathy for anyone else who had questioned Galloway’s attitude towards Jews. Free speech solicitors were so outraged (Eyes passim) they offered their services to everyone Galloway had threatened and reported his lawyers to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Mark Lewis, solicitor for Galloway’s targets, told the Eye that as of last week the libel threats had come to nothing. He and his colleagues told their clients not to pay a penny. As for the writs: "Go ahead, sue,” Lewis wrote to him. “Either put up or shut up.” He made Galloway shut up. As did the electorate on 7 May… albeit briefly.
The “left-wing” leader of the British anti-war movement had accused Naz Shah, his Labour opponent in Bradford West and another Muslim woman who has stood up to him, of lying about how her family forced her into a teenage marriage. As he did, he propagated the myth to his core religious constituency that they could dismiss concerns about coerced weddings and marital rape as malicious fabrications.
But voters in Bradford West had the sense to chuck him out, giving Shah 19,977 votes to Galloway’s 8,577. He took defeat with typical good grace, claiming “widespread malpractice” by Shah and announcing that he had launched legal action to challenge the result.
So what next for formerly “gorgeous” George? There’s only one possible role for a man whose credibility has been shot to pieces and whose conduct causes such controversy: he’s thinking of trying to become mayor of Tower Hamlets!