BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Thursday, 8 May, 2003, 09:04 GMT 10:04 UK
Was Labour right to suspend George Galloway?

George Galloway has been suspended from the Labour Party pending "internal party investigations".

The left-winger had come under fire for remarks he made at the height of the Iraq war when he branded Tony Blair a "wolf" and said that British troops should refuse to follow what he called illegal orders.

In recent days Mr Galloway has been under the spotlight after the Daily Telegraph printed allegations that he accepted up to 375,000 a year from Iraq.

Its claims, which Mr Galloway strongly denies, are to be investigated by Parliament's standards watchdog Philip Mawer.

Should George Galloway have been suspended?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

George should not have been suspended until - and if - the allegations have been investigated and proved correct.
Lynn, UK

It seems like a closing of the ranks
Gerry, Scotland

Why was he not suspended immediately after saying what was said? Why wait until now when a court case is pending? It seems like a closing of the ranks of the old boys club if you ask me. George Galloway is my MP and whilst some of the things he has said has made me cringe, at least he had the courage to stand up against the nodding dogs that have become the Labour Party today.
Gerry, Scotland

If George Galloway feels the way he does about Mr Blair's policies, maybe he should leave the Labour Party of his own free will. However, it is wrong of the Labour Party to dismiss Galloway for voicing an opinion.

George Galloway is not being suspended by the Labour Party because of what he has said, rather, it is to do with something he may have done. The issue of free speech is not the issue here. We are all of course afforded the right of free speech, to say that there should not be consequences for what you say is bizarre - if anyone openly espouses racist etc views they can be punished through the law.
Ken, UK

Whatever one thinks of George Galloway, one can't help but lament that this whole affair says more about the way we run our politics, the powerful briefing and leaking information from behind the scenes than anything else.
Craig Harry, Liverpool, England

What about all the other very vocal dissenters in the party?

Why single out Mr Galloway? What about all the other very vocal dissenters in the party? I believe up to as much as a third of the Parliamentary Labour Party were against Blair's policies. What about Clare Short? There's no justification in the campaign to discredit George Galloway. Tony Blair is simply taking full advantage of the fact that he supposedly has the confidence of the public. He doesn't have my support and I certainly will never vote Labour again.!

The only reason that George Galloway was suspended from the Labour party yesterday was to divert attention from Ian Duncan Smiths attack on government Euro policy. And it worked - Another victory for the spin-merchants!
Cubu Ashiru, UK

Accepting the whip does not mean that you automatically sign up for every twist and turn of future policy. That's sycophantic dictatorship such as Saddam Hussein enjoyed. Given the highly undemocratic version of party politics we suffer in the UK, it's no wonder that party members get suspended when the 'leader' gets annoyed. Perhaps this might just be the point at which we democratise the process of choosing which MPs we get to vote for rather than having the choice imposed on us.
Chris Powell, UK

Other MPs have done worse things and not been suspended
Nick, UK

I would not consider myself a fan of George Galloway, but I believe that he, unlike many of his Labour colleagues, actually believes in something more profound than simply following the party line. He has not compromised his views for the sake of popularity, and is paying the price for it. I see no reason for suspending him from the party for his views. Other MPs have done worse things and not been suspended. I believe many people have a more than grudging respect for George Galloway. He has said aloud many of the things that people secretly feel.
Nick, UK

Whether or not George Galloway is deserving of his suspension should have been decided through the established party procedures. It wasn't. There are procedures in place to suspend an MP in an emergency, but there was no emergency. In all truth I suspect George Galloway is deserving of his suspension. But if he is to be suspended by a Government who claimed they were fighting the war in the name of protecting democracy, then why wasn't established democratic process followed to suspend him?
Chris Hollett, UK

I agree with many of the comments here that the issue is not one of freedom of speech. Were I to go on national television/ press and tell the world that my bosses are idiots, I would consider myself lucky to get away with a suspension. There are rules of engagement for him as a member of the party and he has stepped outside of those rules.
Craig, UK

This is a serious threat to our democracy
Ian Wyles, England

Yes I think George Galloway was quite right to speak out to the level he did. I think he was also speaking for a very large proportion of the British public who were not being listened to by the Blair regime. This is a serious threat to our democracy and I believe we are following a dangerous course.
Ian Wyles, England

It really depends what they suspended him for. If he is being investigated for allegedly receiving payments from Saddam Hussein's regime then it seems reasonable to suspend him whilst such a serious investigation takes place. If however he has been suspended for disagreeing with Blair and referring to him as a wolf - then it is not justified.
David Elliot, UK

George Galloway is entitled to his opinions, however if he wishes to be part of an establishment organisation such as the Labour Party, he has a duty to conform to the required standards of behaviour of that organisation. The Labour Party has a duty to ensure that those members that purport to accept the Party Whip are completely clean and deserving of their membership. The Labour Party has no alternative but to suspend Galloway pending the clarification of the position. Galloway should welcome the action and co-operate rather than bleat that he is a victim.
Sandy Kelly, Philippines

George Galloway has consistently and spoken out bravely against Tony Blair's policies, which will lead to decades of East-West strife. His suspension was for me the last straw. I will never vote for Labour again.
Hani Hamdi, UK

He has the right of free speech, however he knows that comes with a degree of responsibility
Steve McMahon, UK

The Labour Party is right to suspend Mr Galloway and when he complains he should remember two simple facts. Firstly, he stood and was elected in a safe Labour seat under a New Labour ticket and as such he benefits from the Labour whip. Secondly he has the right of free speech however he knows that comes with a degree of responsibility. He would have done well to follow the example of Robin Cook who expressed his dissent with great dignity. The Labour Party gave Mr Galloway his platform and its quite right to suspend and expel him from the party as he has overstepped the mark of fair and reasonable opinion. Let him resign from the Party and stand for election as an Independent candidate, then he can say whatever he likes.
Steve McMahon, UK

To me the right to free speech and indeed any other right go out the window when it comes to comments like Galloway's. It is not a problem to be anti-war - in fact we all benefit from a lively debate on the subject - but once our forces are in action, whether or not you agree with the circumstances, every British person has a duty to offer them their unqualified support. You do not under any circumstances encourage our forces to ignore government orders. That is tantamount to treason and Galloway should be severely punished.
Mark Boulle, England

Galloway has consistently exposed Tony Blair for pursuing, in my view, an illegal attack on Iraq. Blair had to do something to try to gag his views. Some tabloid readers may fall for this but please credit the public with some sense.

George Who? Everyone join in and pray that something really "newsworthy" happens so that George Galloway will quickly disappear into the obscurity so deservingly awaiting him.
Ian, USA

He's better off out of the so called Labour Party because its not the party he originally believed in. Liberte George, liberte!
Mike Allan, Malaysia, UK ex-pat

Freedom of speech is about being able to say what you think without fear of being persecuted as a result. The argument that "he is free to say anything but has to face the consequences" is ridiculous. In that way, the Saddam regime supported free speech too - only you would face certain "consequences" for speaking your mind. If MPs must tow their party's line, why have more than one representative per party in the parliament?
Arvind, US

Suspension is not the same as dismissal
Nick, UK

Suspension is not the same as dismissal. It seems fairly logical, if not a little late in the day, to suspend Mr Galloway. It's the same for all of us - if the company someone works for has fair grounds to suspect an individual of misconduct they are well within their rights to suspend that individual pending further investigation. This seems to be the case here, I see no reason for any debate on the matter.
Nick, UK

Mr Galloway is my MP. He represented my views and the views of many of his constituents. He is now being punished for doing so. Some democracy.
Pat Farrelly, Glasgow, UK

If he holds these views he should belong to a party that supports them. By expressing views that are totally against those of the Labour party he has shown he does not belong.
Caron, England

There are serious questions to be answered about his involvement

Why do some people think it's wrong? Do they think it's just down to his remarks? There are serious questions to be answered about his involvement. Until it is cleared up and we know the facts this is a just suspension. People need to get their heads out of the clouds.

George Galloway is an elected representative and by effectively gagging him as the Labour leadership seeks to do they seek to gag the minority of people who agree with him. If he talks such rubbish, as many people here say he does, then people won't agree with him. I think that some people's sense of national identity and the perception they hold of their nation and its armed forces feel threatened by Galloway's opinions and the forthright uncompromising manner in which he expresses them. People feel vindicated in their own views by seeing the Labour party suspend him.
Sam Causton, England

All those posts that go on about "freedom of speech" are completely missing the point. Nobody has tried to gag him. George Galloway is free to say whatever he likes, however he is not free from the consequences of that speech. Galloway is not an independent MP. He has taken the Labour Whip and is thus bound by their internal rules. It's that simple.
Jonathan Michaud, US

He must face the consequences of what he chooses to say
John, Spain

The idea that an MP would incite soldiers to refuse to implement orders is more than sufficient, in my view, for him to be suspended from the Labour Party. I do not believe that freedom of speech is the issue at all, as so many of the comments here seem to suggest. He will continue to be free to say whatever he wants. He must face the consequences of what he chooses to say.
John, Spain

George Galloway should understand that nobody in a free tolerant democratic society has 'free speech'. We can't say what we want, when we want, to whom we want. Mr Galloway should understand that free speech brings responsibilities and he should, particularly as an MP, exercise those responsibilities.
Tom Neave, UK

It's sad that Labour is being purged of the left-wing viewpoints that made it great. Galloway's suspension is simply one step in Labour's rightward journey, until it is no different from the Tories. Hopefully, the British people will come to their senses soon and elect a real socialist alternative.
Cody, California, USA

It's worrying that someone can't speak their mind in the political arena without retribution. I would have respected the Labour Party more if it had showed tolerance for what is only a minority view in a party that is supposed to support the minority vote.
Wardy, Wilts, England

It is premature and prejudicial to suspend him now
Jeremy Wilson, UK

It is quite wrong for the Labour Party to suspend Mr Galloway without waiting for inquiries to be completed. There are important questions to be answered about Mr Galloway's actions and behaviour but it is premature and prejudicial to suspend him now. However, the action is not surprising and reflects the manipulative regime that Blair has built up.
Jeremy Wilson, UK

Whilst I respect his right to his own opinion, Mr. Galloway's remarks often seem incompatible with his membership of HM government, and the Labour party.
Stewart Gray, Brazil. (UK expat.)

He has a right - within the law - to say what he wants; the Labour party's leaders and members - within the law - have a right to decide their own membership. If you don't like their action, leave them, vote against them, complain however you want - within the law. Why abridge, more than the law absolutely has to, any of these people's freedoms to do what they want?
James Nicola, UK

The Party is merely enforcing the Whip
Charles, UK and US

He is not being denied his right to free speech by being suspended from the Party. The Party is merely enforcing the Whip. However, calling upon British troops to disobey orders would once have met with charges of sedition.
Charles, UK and US

Lots of allegations and no evidence. Where is all this money Galloway is meant to have received? Why would an Iraqi Intelligence document have a header written in English? These and other questions the Telegraph needs to answer, not Galloway. Galloway should definitely not be suspended from the Labour Party.
Gary McFarlane, UK

Mr Galloway has gone one step too far. He is a man of principles and that should be welcomed but he cannot justify remaining in the Labour Party if his beliefs are that British troops should refuse to follow orders. Do you really think that Galloway is representing the views of his constituents in Glasgow Kelvin or is he following his own nonsensical agenda? I leave it to you to decide.
Campbell Orr, UK

When any MP is faced by such serious charges, they must be suspended

Yes, it was right to suspend Galloway. When any MP is faced by such serious charges, they must be suspended while a full investigation is conducted. Public office is too important to take any risks with. If the investigation clears Galloway, then he will be reinstated. He obviously doesn't like being suspended (who would?) but surely he can see that MPs must be above suspicion.

George Galloway has every right to make whatever comments he desires. However, by accepting the Labour whip he agrees to operate within certain limits. This is an inquiry by his party into whether he has stepped outside of those limits - it is not an abrogation of his right to free speech.
Ben, UK

Many prominent people have said the war against Iraq was illegal. Even if one disagrees, the legality was certainly arguable. Hence we have the surreal situation that for a Labour PM to fight such a war is fine, but for a Labour MP to question it is not. Since Mr Blair claims now the post hoc argument that Iraqis have been "freed", perhaps a little freedom of speech might be permitted in his party.
John McNeil, Scotland

Freedom of expression is one of the most fundamental rights that individuals enjoy
Shiraz Ahmed, UK

If in a free and a democratic country a M.P can't say what he thinks, who can? George Galloway's first duty is not to his party but to his constituency. Freedom of expression is one of the most fundamental rights that individuals enjoy. It is fundamental to the existence of democracy and the respect of human dignity. It is also one of the most dangerous rights, because freedom of expression means the freedom to express one's discontent with the status quo and the desire to change it. As such, it is one of the most threatened rights, with governments. George Galloway should be applauded for his principled stand.
Shiraz Ahmed, UK

George Galloway is entitled to his views, no matter how farcical or repugnant they may seem to anybody else. The irony is, the Iraqi regime would have treated him very differently if he was an Iraqi citizen and had expressed views so at odds with the official line. I wonder if Mr Galloway ever ponders that thought?
Chris Lonie, London, UK

It doesn't matter how the Iraqi regime might or might not have treated George Galloway. He is a British citizen and therefore entitled to express himself freely. To argue that he would not have been able to voice his thoughts under a different regime or in a different country is beside the point. To suggest that he should therefore remain silent defeats the purpose of free speech.
Julie, UK

This simply highlights the problem with a party political system
Joe, UK

This simply highlights the problem with a party political system. It would be far better if parliament reflected the broad spectrum of opinion that exists in society rather than simply the sterilised and regimented decisions of a small number of political parties appealing to a narrow section of voters: the swing vote. I don't agree with George Galloway but I wish we had more MPs who expressed a heartfelt opinion, no matter how wrong headed, rather than being presented with a bunch of cronies. I might actually stop spoiling my ballot paper or voting negatively if that were the case.
Joe, UK

George Galloway represents an important part of the Labour Party. If the leadership of the Party are moving to expel him permanently it will only serve to alienate the party further from its natural supporters.
Graham Copp, UK

Labour suspends Galloway
06 May 03  |  Politics
Galloway row: Claims and rebuttal
22 Apr 03  |  Politics
Profile of George Galloway
22 Apr 03  |  Politics
Galloway pelted with eggs
05 May 03  |  Merseyside


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific