27 April 2003


The story of George Galloway and his relationship with Saddam Hussein looks likely to be with us for some time. If Galloway is serious about suing the Telegraph (click here) and the Christian Science Monitor (click here) over their stories that he was the beneficiary of significant Iraqi funds, the case will not be heard for some months.

Whether or not "Gorgeous George" took Saddam's shilling, it's worth bearing in mind that the Iraqi regime had a policy of buying support in the UK

Back in the 1980s, when Galloway was denouncing Saddam as a tool of US imperialism, Saddam’s chosen vehicle was the Workers Revolutionary Party. The Trotskyist WRP, led by the psychopathic Gerry Healy and supported by Vanessa Redgrave and a bunch of third-rate actors, was desperate for cash to subsidise its daily newspaper, News Line, and various other projects - including Labour Herald, a weekly set up in order to eclipse Tribune as the voice of the Labour left (it failed).

The key figures in the Herald were Ted Knight, an old associate of Healy who was at that point leader of Lambeth council in London, and Ken Livingstone, then leader of the Greater London Council and now mayor of London, who was an old associate of Knight. (Livingstone has long had a strange, some would say exploitative relationship with Trotskyists, although his chosen partner has long since ceased to be the WRP: it’s now Socialist Action, the pro-Cuba bit of the old International Marxist Group, on which see below and this rather ancient piece from the Guardian.)

Libya was a bigger source of WRP funds than Iraq - but the WRP did some vile stuff for Saddam, including informing on Iraqi dissidents in London.

At some point in the late 1980s, after the WRP imploded, the regime in Baghdad appears to have realised that bankrolling a crazy revolutionary sect made no sense. Certainly after 1991 it targeted respectable Labourite leftists as its best hope. I had several offers of freebie trips to Iraq (none mediated by Galloway) in the late 1980s and early 1990s when I was a journalist on Tribune. I did not take up the offers: others did.

For Galloway's side of the story, see the Sunday Herald's interview here.

More to come on this

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