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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 December, 2004, 12:50 GMT
Profile: George Galloway
George Galloway
Mr Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party in October 2003

Admire him, loathe him, lampoon him. But never, ever underestimate him. For a backbencher - remote from ministerial office - George Galloway has always appeared to inspire a quite remarkable mix of emotions.

Perhaps it's the holiday home in the Algarve, perhaps it's the fondness for Cuban cigars. But, no half measures, George Galloway seems to get right up the nose of those who count themselves among his critics.

Equally, though, he can command an audience with his oratory. And, scattered throughout political life in Scotland and at Westminster, there are those who have been his acolytes. There's always been something about George.

Born in 1954 in Dundee, George Galloway was educated at the city's Harris Academy.

After a spell working at the Michelin tyre plant in Dundee, he turned his amateur, youthful passion for Labour politics into a professional career as a party organiser, again in Dundee.

It was classic Galloway. Confronting controversy with impetuous vigour
His reputation steadily grew - for oratory, for activism and for high-profile controversial campaigns such as the move to twin Dundee with Nablus on the Palestinian West Bank.

At the age of 26, he became chair of Labour in Scotland. Six years later, he was in the House of Commons.

To get there, he had to beat no less a figure than Roy Jenkins in Glasgow Hillhead - a seat which had previously been Tory for generations.

Charity finances

But always, always the questions. In that same year, 1987, he faced inquiries over his financial stewardship at the charity War on Want, where he had been general secretary for four years.

He was exonerated - after volunteering to repay some contested expenses: beyond, he stressed, the repayment required by auditors.

He has sought attention. He has sought success for his political initiatives. But he has scarcely channelled his career towards office.

As he noted in one newspaper interview, marching alongside Gerry Adams to campaign against British policy in Ireland did not exactly endear him to the Labour hierarchy.

A maverick, a rebel, a dissident. All descriptions which George Galloway detests and disdains. He says such terms imply a "flibbertigibbet" approach to politics, a gadfly attitude to policy.

Praise for Saddam

A smile comes easily to Galloway's lips. He can be both charming and affable. But it is occasionally a smile of superiority.

George Galloway
George Galloway had denied receiving Iraqi funds.

George Galloway is talented and he knows it. He has a command of language which provokes envy among more stilted and struggling orators.

But always, always the questions. In January 1994, he was shown on television apparently praising Saddam Hussein for his courage, strength and indefatigability.

Mr Galloway insisted he was lauding the people of Iraq - not their leader. Few critics were prepared to make the distinction.

Then in 1998, he brought little Mariam Hamza to Glasgow for the leukaemia treatment which sanctions prevented in her native Iraq.

Supporters said it was an act of charity, bolstered by a political desire to expose the damage done by sanctions. Critics said it was a cynical PR stunt.

'Like wolves'

He was expelled from the Labour Party in October 2003 in the wake of his outspoken comments on the Iraq war - comments which Labour chairman Ian McCartney said "incited foreign forces to rise up against British troops".

Labour acted against him following a TV interview in which he accused Tony Blair and President Bush of acting "like wolves" in invading Iraq.

Mr Galloway responded to his expulsion by saying: "This was a politically-motivated kangaroo court whose verdict had been written in advance in the best tradition of political show trials."

In the wake of his expulsion he has been the figurehead for the anti-war party Respect.

In December 2004, Mr Galloway was awarded 150,000 in libel damages from the Daily Telegraph over articles published in April 2003 claiming he received money from Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.

He denied seeking or receiving money from Saddam Hussein's government, saying he had long opposed it.




SEE ALSO:
Galloway wins Saddam libel case
02 Dec 04 |  UK Politics
Galloway judge considers verdict
19 Nov 04 |  UK Politics
Legal fireworks in Galloway case
17 Nov 04 |  UK Politics
Galloway denies Saddam 'fawning'
16 Nov 04 |  UK Politics
Galloway hits out in libel battle
15 Nov 04 |  UK Politics
Galloway 'fought Saddam tyranny'
15 Nov 04 |  UK Politics
'I am victim of smear campaign'
23 Apr 04 |  UK Politics
Interview: George Galloway
13 Aug 04 |  UK Politics
Galloway cleared on appeal funds
28 Jun 04 |  UK Politics


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