According to the Daily Mail (21 April), Labour leader Ed Miliband had an hour-long meeting in his office with George Galloway.
A Labour spokesman felt the need to insist that there is "no attempt" to readmit Galloway to the Labour Party, and what Miliband was discussing - for an hour... - was just a vote on boundary changes.
The report has sparked a many-sided row.
The Daily Mail has run a continuing campaign about the meeting, saying that it shows that Miliband is "Red Ed" and too close to supposed leftists like Galloway.
"Mr Miliband said he wanted further meetings - but in a secret location so Labour MPs did not find out about it. The two discussed Mr Galloway's fierce criticism of US foreign policy and opposition to British troops in Afghanistan. They had a 'warm' chat and talked about Mr Galloway's friendship with Mr Miliband's late father, Marxist academic Ralph Miliband. The Labour leader said he admired Mr Galloway's campaigning skills and his ability to woo ethnic minority voters".
Galloway retorted: “I categorically say my return to the Labour party wasn't discussed. I have absolutely no desire to return to the Labour party.” Galloway claimed news of the meeting had been leaked by members of Labour's Blairite faction, and Tony Blair himself was in on the plot. However, he also publicly praised Mr Miliband's "high moral character".
Then die-hard Blairites put pressure on Miliband, and the Labour Party leader denounced Galloway's "awful" views and said he did not want him back in the party.
Galloway, offended, accused Miliband of lying and branded him an "unprincipled coward with the backbone of an amoeba".
Labour mainstream people, like Mark Ferguson, have written that the Mail story is a Tory attempt to get at Ed Miliband.
Ferguson, however, concluded: "Whilst a small part of me admires [Miliband's] hard-headed pragmatism... a larger part of me thinks - it's Galloway, what were you thinking Ed? That man – after everything he has said and done – doesn't even deserve your courtesy".
On the Labour left website Left Futures, Andy Newman (ex-SWP, ex-Respect, now close to the Morning Star, and a man with an unusually frothy hostility to AWL) has suggested it would be good to see Galloway back in the Labour Party. In an extensive discussion there, some Labour left people have concurred; others have commented on the following lines:
"I can't stand supposedly 'left' politicians like Galloway being in open and clear alliance with hard-right religious extremists, just because they have a common enemy: the US, the West, Israel. If someone - as all Islamists do - reject women's equality, freedom of speech expression, and support hideous concepts of blasphemy and apostasy, then a socialist should never be in any way allied to them".
For ourselves, back in 1994 we said that Galloway's local Labour Party should remove him as MP because of his relations with and endorsement for Saddam Hussein. His subsequent dealings with Islamists, with the ruling circles of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, and with more than one Pakistani government, confirm that view.