Perhaps in a nod to the memory of Mr Galloway’s now infamous previous visit to Oxford, a Union official spoke to the crowd a few minutes before the speech, reminding members of the audience to be “nice and civil” with their questions and comments.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Galloway drew an analogy between British sentiment concerning a possible German invasion during the Second World War, and the backlash generated by Britain’s recent interventions in the Middle East. He stated, just as “every self-respecting person in this land would have slit the throats of invading Nazis, no person loves their country less than we and Churchill love ours.” Mr. Galloway noted that he warned former Prime Minister Tony Blair that the fall of Baghdad during the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq “would not be the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning.
Continuing to a sharp and pointed criticism of Britain’s dominant political parties, Mr. Galloway took a poetic turn, describing modern politicians as “shrunken men and women, with shrunken ambitions” and Britain’s Left and Right as “two cheeks of the same backside”.
Condemning current Labour ideology, Galloway declared: “This country needs a Labour party to stand up for the interests of the employed against those of their employers, the old, the disabled, the sick, the too young”. He blasted Blair’s boast to Goldman Sachs in 2006 that “bankers were paying less in income tax under him than under Mrs. Thatcher.” “The closer the two backcheeks are,” Mr. Galloway summised, “the more noise they need to make to justify their separateness.”
Besides criticising the main political parties, Mr. Galloway also covered a wide variety of topics, some less recent than others, regarding what he referred to as the “rotten institutions of this country,” amongst which he counted the police, Parliament, the City, and intelligence services.
“Nothing has changed because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he claimed, “except for the fact that our country is now one of the most hated in the world. The political system is discredited, and nobody believes anything a senior minister or civil servant or M16 official has to say… even the Cabinet was misled by the security services, when they asked for permission to do things which they were already doing.” He remarked, “The State is now spying on everything being done, the public realm diminishes before our eyes, leaving only gated communities and gated boonies of privilege.”
During the Q&A session that followed his session, Mr. Galloway was able to give his current stance on recent international events. On Syria, though claiming that “Syria does not need any more years of an Assad presidency,” he also stated, “Assad would win in an election because the Syrian people have seen the fanatics in the face. The Syrian people would never accept being ruled by Al-Qaeda or the Taliban or some toxic mixture of them both. I want the Syrian people to agree to a negotiated solution.”
To one, particularly well-received, question from the floor, “If I said in a debate that I would not debate with a Pakistani, I would rightly be called a racist. Are you a racist?” Galloway gave an effusive reply, saying “An hour and a half of speaking, you think I’m a racist. Why are you applauding. What kind of people are you?[…]Jews don’t have to be on the side of racist apartheid ideology of Zionism. Marx was a Jew. Some great intellectuals were Jewish, but none of them would have stood on the side of driving millions of Palestinians into exile.”