It gets curiouser and curiouser, the Galloway affair. The champion of Saddam Hussein's fascistic Iraq, the loyal personal friend of the Iraqi Hitler's loyal deputy Tariq Aziz, the man who leads the list of the SWP's Respect coalition for the Euro-elections in June, has defended himself against AWL and Solidarity - in a letter to the Weekly Worker.
It was, the reader will remember, in deference to this morally and politically compromised rich spouter of stale rhetoric that the SWP dropped the idea that an MP should get only a worker's wage (and the extra expenses of the job, naturally).
Someone in the previous issue of Weekly Worker had dared to mention, rather mildly, that Galloway has said that he needs £150,000 a year to function in politics (The Scotsman, 19 May 2003).
He is angry with his one-time fellow-tankie-Stalinists on the Weekly Worker. He tells them: "It's time your organ" (that's Stalinist jargon for "your paper") halted its repetition of the AWL's "smears against me".
The repeated "smear" consisted of a reference to his "need" for his £150,000 a year. Galloway tells his erring comrades:
"It is a matter of fact that last year I earned £150,000 from my Parliamentary salary and housing allowance and my journalistic earnings. Asked how I could justify as a socialist earning so much, I replied that I used all my salary to fund a life as a (very) full-time figure active in British politics".
Have you got that? "Earned" - nobody ever gave this man anything! And it never occurred to you, did it, that Galloway is a full-time politician? Of course you thought that, far from being a "full-time figure", Galloway sometimes, like the djinn of the lamp, dissolves into mist and nothingness. No - his strutting, podgy little figure is (very) "full-time".
And his full-time figure never rests. "I travel virtually daily all over the country to speak at public meetings". He whizzes all over Britain every day, or "virtually" every day? Every two days or so? On a magic Arabian nights style carpet?
And generously he spreads his wealth around. We all benefit because little George is rich! He "virtually never receives expenses". That word "virtually" again. That is, he does receive expenses.
Galloway is also a creator of jobs and therefore, like every employer of labour, a public benefactor. He "subsidise(s) the costs of my larger than average parliamentary staff from my own pocket (by many thousands of pounds)".
Poignantly he asks Weekly Worker to admit that they have been "unfair to me". If Galloway put himself on a "worker's wage" the results would be catastrophic, not for Galloway but for "left organisations" and his "larger than average" group of employees. (He neglects to say if he is including his chauffeur).
"If I were to accept a worker's wage and charge full expenses" (first class train or chauffeur-driven car, accommodation at a good hotel?) "from local left organisations, I would be richer, they would be poorer (or more likely, unable to invite me), and some other workers would be out of a job with no wages at all".
Without Galloway's extra-parliamentary money, neither Britain's workers nor the SWP could afford him! We are getting Galloway at subsidised prices.
He ends with a heartfelt plea to WW: " please, don't join the Daily Telegraph and the AWL in misrepresenting my character".
In fact this preposterous letter, judged against the facts, is a reasonably accurate representation of Mr Galloway's character.
He first cited the sum of £150,000 as his minimum requirement for 2002, not 2003. What great flurry of labour movement or "socialist" meetings was he doing then? (For that matter, what part had Galloway played in any working-class or left-wing cause for ten years before the Iraq war?)
If he needed £150,000 to function in 2002, when he was not "all over the country", his budget must be badly stretched now by his attempt to get into the European Parliament. (Getting Galloway and, maybe, John Rees of the SWP, into the Euro-parliament is the sole practical object of Respect). Perhaps he should have asked WW to start a "keep George on the road" special fund.
It is "a matter of fact" that Galloway has admitted to taking money, a lot of money, from Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and an Iraqi-linked businessman. He has admitted - and the case is being investigated by the Charities Commission - that most of the money collected by the "Mariam Appeal", ostensibly a fund-collecting agency to provide medical care for Iraqi children, went on the expenses of his political operations, centred around "perhaps a hundred" trips to Iraq. (But of course Galloway "virtually never" asks his hosts for expenses).
The Guardian has reported that Galloway's Jordanian businessman friend Fawwaz Zureikat was a beneficiary of Saddam's policy of financing international supporters by giving them vouchers for millions of barrels of oil which they could sell on at a profit. According to the Guardian (17/02/04), some of the documents about Zureikat's deals "appear to have the words 'Mr Galloway' or 'for the benefit of Mr George Galloway', either in Arabic typing or added in handwriting".
Galloway admits to getting money from Zureikat, and has not sued the Guardian for libel.
If, as Galloway says, he gets the £150,000 he "needs" for his political operations from his parliamentary and journalistic earnings, for what did he need all the extra money that he admits to having had? What did he do with it?
The story of Galloway's present relationship with the pseudo-left will go down in the records as one of the most weird and freakish incidents of this doldrums period in the history of socialism.