Matt Alford

Matt Alford

Dr. Matt Alford is a Lecturer in Politics, Languages and International Studies at the University of Bath. You can find him on YouTube at @DrMatthewAlford

George Galloway MP: Mainstream Media’s Latest Sacrificial Lamb
Thursday, 04 April 2024 09:06

George Galloway MP: Mainstream Media’s Latest Sacrificial Lamb

Dr. Matt Alford writes about the media campaign against George Galloway

In early March, the late night UK comedy show, ‘The Last Leg’, responded to Respect leader George Galloway’s victory in the Rochdale by-election.

Presenter Adam Hills called Galloway ‘a professional shit-stirrer … looking mildly more credible than the Monster Raving Loony Party’.

The producers then ran the infamous clip of Galloway pretending to be a cat in the Big Brother house, and called it ‘cringe-inducing’. I think what is far more cringe-worthy, and frankly disturbing, was when our unelected Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, declared Galloway's win ‘beyond alarming’.

Hills says he was aiming to be light-hearted but, actually, he was being really serious, smearing Galloway for having six kids from three marriages. ‘He loves family,’ Hills deadpanned. Galloway is 69, incidentally, so a handful of long-term relationships is hardly outlandish, even if the most woke show on television does persist in slut-shaming an old man.

Hills introduced comedian Jo Brand and asked her what she thought of Galloway. ‘Love him!’ she responded, and then retreated into naff jokes as she felt the room go as cold as ice. Maybe she was unaware of the ‘jokes’ that were underway while she was backstage – it would not surprise me because any normal ‘left-wing’ show would see Galloway's victory as a cause for celebration.

Actress Rula Lenska has always called her 2006 Big Brother exchange with Galloway ‘completely innocent improvisation’.

In turn, a close friend of mine said of Galloway’s cat antics, ‘Yes, but he shouldn’t have done it because it made it look like he might do it in private too’.

Okay, so… maybe this isn’t all party politics. Maybe it is also a broader crippling of the human spirit in our current age. I can only respond with sadness – is this how far we have come as a society? Are people not allowed freedom of expression and speech? Somehow we have become comfortable with Furries, cosmetic mastectomies, and trafficked girls on PornHub, but not with a fifty-something man playing with a fifty-something woman on a gameshow that WE were watching? 

I mean, I get it. It WAS a funny clip. But can we not step back for two seconds after 18 years and recognise how grotesquely we have collectively warped that moment? 

I saw an intriguing debate between two women a few weeks ago. Feminist lawyer Sarah Victoria Phillimore had used a trans colleague’s ‘preferred pronouns’ in a work setting to be polite, even though she is publicly opposed to the notion of gender fluidity. Phillimore was loudly denounced by right-wingers on her side for not being sufficiently hard-line: in a way that exactly mirrored the reactionary ‘woke’ leftists they usually so vocally deride. It was, at best, bad ‘strategy, they said. Phillimore shot back: ‘If we’re going to talk strategy, [I’m] not a general with an army, I'm an individual. I am a human being. But if victory is only secured in the gender wars by compelling or crushing the freedom of speech of others, I don't want it’.

Galloway is not the only Labour leader subjected to such mediated thuggery. An investigation by author and journalist, Matt Kennard, for Declassified UK, concluded that Jeremy Corbyn was the target of 34 major national media stories openly sourced by former or current officials in the UK’s intelligence and military establishment, including MI5 and MI6.

During the 2019 general election campaign, right-wing columnist, Simon Heffer, claimed on live radio that Corbyn ‘wants to reopen Auschwitz’. Moreover, Israel lobbyists spat venom at Corbyn: ‘I think we should sacrifice him for all the trouble he has caused,’ said Lionel Kopelowitz, an 80 year old bigwig on the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Labour MUST dump vampire Jezza,’ The Mail on Sunday implored in 2016. Serving British Army soldiers later filmed themselves using Corbyn’s image as target practice! 

Even an attempt on Corbyn’s life came in 2017. Darren Osborne, an Islamophobe who found he was unable to kill the Labour leader on the day he intended, instead rammed his van into nearby Muslims. Does anyone even remember this?

Two years later, a white racist called John Murphy punched Corbyn in the head while shouting pro-Brexit slogans. The media called it an ‘egging’ (Murphy had an egg in his hand). Mass mediated amnesia seems to surround the neo-Nazi and the Islamic fanatic who murdered Jo Cox and Sir David Amess respectively.

Just prior, sitting MP Galloway was physically assaulted on the street by an unrepentant IDF sympathiser – 10 punches and a Kung Fu kick resulted in broken ribs and a badly bruised skull. This attack on Galloway was pretty much ignored by the House of Commons and the mainstream media. Even now, ‘The Last Leg’ made two quips – i.e. clunky, boring slurs –  about Galloway wearing a hat – ‘Trump in a fancier hat’, ‘The most problematic man in a fedora since Johnny Depp’ – seemingly not to know or care that the reason for this is to offer some protection from a similar beating, hiding in plain sight. 

And so ‘The Last Leg’ foisted the Galloway cat story on to its young adult audience who, I imagine, would be bemused by being pummelled with such a grainy old clip, especially as the man being vilified has just dedicated his election victory to the people of Gaza: a cause they likely support, and would have assumed that this ostensibly left-wing comedy show would, too.

In 2014, the great comedian Stewart Lee mocked the endless recycling of ‘Only Fools and Horses’ sit-com character, Del Boy, falling through a drinks bar, culminating in a giant festival where the same joke was fetishized ad nauseam. The Galloway cat story is the political equivalent.

This article was edited by Brett Gregory.