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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 May, 2003, 16:39 GMT 17:39 UK
Galloway's party problems

By Nick Assinder
BBC News Online political correspondent

Galloway was a regular visitor to Baghdad
It was probably inevitable that Labour bosses would suspend George Galloway from the party after his remarks concerning the Iraq war.

The troublesome left-winger has long been in the leadership's sights - they just haven't had a good enough reason to do anything about him before now.

Indeed, to some extent, Tony Blair and the party managers have been prepared to live with Mr Galloway and his behaviour.

He has never pretended to be anything other than what he is - a rebellious, unrepentant and controversial left-winger - indeed he has made a virtue of it.

And he has infuriated the party leaders on so many previous occasions that the effect had long ago worn off.

Party bosses probably calculated that taking disciplinary action against him would only have made matters worse by giving him a platform and a grievance.

What he does

But by saying the things he did over the war he was clearly stepping over a mark as far as they were concerned.

And he probably ensured that the leadership would have to take action. They must have calculated that he would not find much support for his comments, even amongst his allies.

And they also probably believed that, no matter what the real damage to the party, not to act after such a high profile action would have sent out a message of weakness.

It is debatable whether his remarks or his actions during the war and the run up to it would have reflected particularly on the prime minister, or even the party as a whole.

"This was just George doing what George does," was the most common refrain from colleagues.

Mr Galloway himself has argued that the action is unfair and could prejudice his legal action against the Daily Telegraph allegations over his relationship with Saddam Hussein's regime.

And his friends have pointed out that no such action was taken against ministers like Peter Mandelson and Geoffrey Robinson who lost their frontbench jobs over their actions.

Whatever the outcome of the investigation into Mr Galloway's behaviour, one thing is absolutely certain.

On his past record, Mr Galloway will not go quietly.




SEE ALSO:
Labour suspends Galloway
06 May 03  |  Politics
Galloway pelted with eggs
05 May 03  |  Merseyside
What to do about George
23 Apr 03  |  Politics


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