01 March 2024

George Galloway: Prime Minister’s speech was despicable and dangerous

01 March 2024

George Galloway has said the Prime Minister was playing a “very dangerous game” that could drive young Muslims on to the “rocks of extremism” after his speech on Friday.

Rishi Sunak said Mr Galloway’s resounding victory in the Rochdale by-election on Thursday was “beyond alarming” during an address to the nation from Downing Street.

The Conservative Party leader said Mr Galloway “dismisses the horror of what happened on October 7” during Hamas’s raids on Israel, and claimed he “glorifies Hezbollah”, the proscribed Lebanese military outfit which is involved in frequent skirmishes with Israel.

In his by-election victory speech, Mr Galloway — a former Labour and Respect MP, who now leads the Workers Party of Britain —  announced that his win was “for Gaza” after a feisty and chaotic campaign dominated by the Middle East conflict.

Responding to Mr Sunak’s latest remarks, Mr Galloway said his win in the Greater Manchester seat, in which he secured almost 40% of the vote in a constituency that has a strong Muslim population, had the main political parties “panicking a bit”.

He said Britain’s political leaders “don’t like democracy when it comes out wrong for them”.

Independent candidate David Tully came second in the contest, with the Conservatives third and the Labour candidate, Azhar Ali, in fourth. The party leadership pulled its support for Mr Ali after leaked recordings suggested he thought Israel was complicit in the Hamas attack.

In an interview with the PA news agency at his victory party on Friday evening, Mr Galloway accused Mr Sunak of using Britain’s Muslim population as a “whipping boy” and treating them as “second class voters”.

“And that is what he was doing in Downing Street today, a despicable and dangerous thing,” said the newly elected MP, who has become a divisive figure in British politics in recent decades.

“And secondly, alarmed at the growing support for Palestine, for Gaza in Britain, the attempt is being made to paint these peaceful demonstrators — almost always demonstrating without a single arrest being made, without so much as a paper cup being dropped — they are trying to conflate peaceful democratic protest in Britain with some kind of mob, with some kind of violence and intimidation.

“It is all a very big lie and quite transparently so. But worse than a lie, it is dangerous.

“Because, you see, if you are saying to Muslims who vote that your vote will be delegitimised if you cast it the wrong way, and if you go out on a demonstration peacefully to demonstrate against what the ICJ (International Court of Justice) called a plausible case of genocide, then you will be called a terrorist, and new laws, new police approaches, will be conjured forth against you.

“If you do that, you are driving people away from the path of democracy and peaceful democratic protest.

“And there are many people on the rocks, siren voices that would like to draw, particularly young Muslims, on to those rocks — rocks of extremism, sectarian separatism, violence and so on.

“It is a very dangerous game the political leaders are playing.”

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