Galloway tells Tory bigwig Warsi: 'It's not the Queen’s fault'
Anti-establishment Scot turns royalist for a moment during Question Time
BRADFORD WEST MP George Galloway has had many labels thrown at him during an eventful political career: populist, narcissist, appeaser of "indefatigable" foreign dictatorships. But after the newly elected Scot's appearance on BBC2's Question Time last night, another more surprising tag can be added to that list: monarchist.
Galloway found himself defending the Queen after Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi attempted to distance the government from the growing controversy in Bahrain.
At first, Warsi got away with fudging the issue of whether Formula 1 should go to Bahrain, saying the government could only give advice and had no power to stop drivers travelling. But when she tried a similar line on whether the Queen should disinvite the King of Bahrain from her Diamond Jubilee celebrations this summer, Galloway intervened.
"The decision for the King to attend the Queen's Diamond Jubilee is a decision taken by the Royal Family," said Warsi, but Galloway butted in. "It's not and you know that's not true," he said. He then attempted to pin the decision to the government, saying: "The Prime Minister advises on these matters."
Warsi accepted that Cameron plays an advisory role, but went on to insist that it is the Queen who decides who to invite to her party, not the government. Galloway disagreed. "You shouldn't blame the Queen," the 57-year-old said. "It's not the Queen's fault."
If it was a surprise to see a famously anti-establishment politician defending the British monarchy against a Tory grandee, Galloway's fiery performance throughout the rest of the show was more predictable. The Scot has reinforced his reputation as a rousing rhetorician after his shock by-election win in Bradford West where he beat Labour by 10,000 votes.
Times columnist David Aaronovitch, a former socialist who was also on the panel, came in for a particular bruising when Galloway accused him of blindly supporting New Labour, a party he sees as having moved too far to the right. "Are you a journalist or a servant of the Blairs?" Galloway barked at Aaronovitch at one point, followed by an audible intake of breath from the studio audience.
He continued to barrack the journalist later. "Were you a communist?! Were you a leading communist?!" Galloway shouted. Aaronovitch responded: "I was a communist, but you were still to the left of me George."