Galloway's Oxford Return 2013: As It Happened
21:36 An hour and a half later, and after a rather varied discussion, we are signing off. Thanks to all 1,200 who tuned in. More to follow. Keep it real, keep it OxStu. Bi!
21:35 “We need to realise we are not the 51st state of the United States. We are a European country. We have to get over that,” says Galloway.
21:31 Galloway now talking about the gains of wealth that accrued to his house, which has risen from £220,000 to over £1m, and saying it’s mad. This is a “casino economy,” he claims. This seems to be some sort of response to Joe Miles; maybe Galloways’s reading the liveblog in between answers to questions?
21:27 Next question was on the Eylon debate. “If I said I don’t debate with Pakistanis, I would rightly be a called a racist. Are you a racist?” Galloway responded the most angrily so far we’ve seen him this evening. Talking about his time in South Africa fighting apartheid and being beaten by the police while there, he asked if we thought he would ever debate with a supporter of South African apartheid. He called on the questioner to turn away from the “racist, apartheid ideology” and the hegemony of Zionism. Significant applause greeted both the question and answer.
21:18 Any Oxford student that thinks that “killing a million people in Iraq” was a “success story” causes Galloway to “despair”.
21:16 Eylon Aslan-Levy getting involved on Twitter (@Eylon_AL): if Galloway does run in 2016, “I’m considering a run too, if only to knock him out of the mayoral debates.” That’s quite amusing, actually.
21:14 Galloway scores a laugh by referring to the LSE as the Libyan School of Economics.
21:13 Galloway claims that we have made Libya worse – “that takes particular genius,” he says.
21:11 Next question: if we do not deploy our military resources, then the very freedoms you wish to see will not come about. If we had not intervened in Libya, Benghazi would be a bloodbath, and right now Syria is a mess without our intervention.
21:08 “No civilisation without taxation” is becoming a bit of a theme this evening. “If you don’t want to pay taxes, go and live in Somalia.”
21:06 Royal Mail share sell off is allegedly undervalued by the government to the tune of £380m. Kuwaiti royal family is going to have “more say in the British Royal Mail than the English royals”.
21:03 More on the Israel altercation: Galloway said that he didn’t want Hunter to come any closer to him, as he approached the front of the chamber while making his point, asking what was under his jumper. Jonathan Hunter spoke in fluent Hebrew for some time before turning to Galloway and beginning his statement in English.
21:01 Galloway responds by saying that the last time he saw that flag was at an EDL rally and that it’s come to something that England’s fascists hold it dear.
20:59 BREAKING NEWS. Brasenose Second Year Jonathan Hunter reveals an Israeli flag from under his T-shirt and speaks in Hebrew. He claims that he “does not debate with racists” and leaves the chamber. Applause breaks out in the room.
20:58 Ed Miliband’s economic policy is “balls”, says the Bradford West MP. Should we put in the apostrophe? (#puncentral)
20:56 Tweet from the every lovely ex-Ox-Stu Editor James Restall (@restyrestall): “I’ve had a thoroughly enjoyable 45 mins with a cuppa and your live blog.” How nice. Power through!
20:55 John Major is, according to Galloway, a “far more decent person than Tony Blair ever was.” He really, really doesn’t like Blair does he?
20:54 This starts Galloway on a lengthy critique of New Labour’s PFI and privatisation policies: “the legacy of Blair and Brown is something all of you are going to be paying for for the rest of your lives.”
20:52 Next question: would you rather Tony Blair hadn’t become leader of the Labour party and we instead got a continuation of Tory rule? (Maybe a member of the OULC in the house…)
20:49 New Egyptian leader is “no new Nasser”; the Respect MP claims that “dark times lie ahead for the Egyptian people”. He then claims that Assad would win an election in Syria if it was held now because they have “looked into the face of the extremists laying siege to Syrian society promoting their own fanatical interpretation of Islam”. He wants a negotiated settlement under Geneva II. led by the USA and Russia. “Kofi Annan’s plan is a good plan”. Wow, that’s a lot of IR in one burst.
20:47 Though we have just been informed that this has been reported over the summer. Still, caused quite the stir in the room.
20:45 It’s worth recapping that Galloway has strongly hinted that he wishes to run for London mayor in 2016. This is rather significant news, according to the number of retweets it’s getting on Twitter…
20:44 Member of the audience asks whether Galloway thinks that Islam and democracy are incompatible. Galloway rejects that dichotomy: “Democracy is not working well in all Muslim countries, but it’s also not working well here.”
20:42 Galloway has finished his speech. Now time for what we imagine will be some uncomfortable questions…
20:41 Galloway says that “we’ll never be comfortable in a land filled with alienation, bitterness and hate.”
20:38 Joe Miles (yes, THE Joe Miles; @JoeMiles94), via Twitter: “Ask Galloway whether he’ll be giving the substantial profits on the sale of his home to charity,” referring to the sale of his five-bedroom £1m London townhouse.
20:36 “There is no civilisation without taxation,” argues Galloway.
20:33 Galloway “bashing bankers”, ribbing the banker who didn’t even notice that his secretary stole £3m from his bank account.
20:32 Galloway also tells us that the police have just released more information of phone hacking by what he terms the “organised Murdoch crime gang”.
20:31 BREAKING NEWS: Galloway announces he’s considering a run for London mayor in 2016.
20:29 A man named @tonybaloni1964 has just tweeted that Galloway would be “more than likely [to] get an intelligent reception from Cambridge. Most of Oxford are smack heads.” Spot on, mate.
20:25 Galloway doesn’t much like today’s politicians. He’s just said that “you couldn’t split the difference between the left (arse)cheek and the right cheek.”
20:23 Galloway just claimed (genuinely) that “you don’t follow anyone else on Twitter”! Um, I mean, we do, but OK. He claimed that the reason most people are at the Union tonight is because he represents an alternative to the bankrupt political classes. Bold claims.
20:20 Don’t forget that you can get involved with the “debate”. Just include the twitter handle @OxStuNews and we’ll probably include it here. Galloway has just mentioned the “Bullingdon boys”, by the way. Anyone in the Buller reading, do get in touch.
20:19 We have a political class that is “incapable” of rising to today’s challenge in the way that Mr Churchill did, according to Galloway. (I mean, he’s right in that there are no Nazis…)
20:16 The Bradford West MP gets a laugh by referring to ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown as an “unfortunate interregnum”.
20:14 Amusement in the Chamber as someone’s hat falls down from the balcony. Galloway clearly too powerful for some.
20:12 Galloway says “Mr Blair, even more than Mrs Thatcher, gave an impetus to the transformation of Britain from a post-imperial power back into an imperial power again.” This seems to be his thesis. “This is one of the reasons for the state we are in”.
20:10 It’s now clear why Churchill was invoked. Galloway is using it to compare it to modern forms of colonialism. People in Britain apparently have a “problem understanding” that people react the same to foreign occupation as we did in World War II. Specifically, he is referring to Iraq.
20:06 Only five minutes in to the speech and we have a Churchill comparison; Galloway talking about the British triumph over Nazism in the Second World War. His theme is “Time for Change in Britain”.
20:05 Galloway asks the audience to give Shuffrey his “best regards”.
20:04 Galloway described Freddie Shuffrey, whose exchange with Galloway last year at the Union about gay rights and former president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez went viral, as a “hapless young fellow”.
20:02 Galloway has entered the building. Union President Parit Wacharasindu introduces him as Britain’s “leading socialist”. No boos yet, only rather timid applause.
19:59 Union very full now – rammed to the rafters. Only a couple of minutes now until the Respect MP enters the Chamber – he is currently in another room in the Union’s illustrious buildings.
19:53 A Union official has just shyly told everyone that he wants us all to be “civil and nice”. Gotta love an optimist…
19:23 All eyes will be on Mr Galloway this evening (I mean, they couldn’t really be on anyone else, but you know what we mean) after his insistence that he “does not debate with Israelis”. His infamous walk-out against ex-Oxford student Eylon Aslan-Levy made him one of the most popular people in Oxford (#irony). Aslan-Levy has since become a Tab.
19:16 Our first tweet to report! According to Ben Crome (@bencrome), a former vice-president of Oxford University’s Jewish Society has said: ”Please don’t show Galloway a ‘warm’ welcome. Booing is most certainly in order.” Booing TBC (if, you know, there’s any internet in the Chamber. ‘Lol’.)
19:06 A bit of a crowd now in the Oxford Union’s illustrious bar. Both Charlie and I have opted for a Stella. Each. Cause we’re mad. Nearly as mad as Galloway. We’ve just been told Wifi in the Chamber is “sketchy”. If you don’t hear from us from 8, that’s why; and this live blog will be a bit of a waste of time. We’ll see. I expect all of you to have your fingers crossed.
18:35 Excitement building at OxStu towers for the man who once claimed that Israel provided chemical weapons to Syria, and then denied saying it. Maybe excitement is the wrong word. Anyway, we’re going to head down to the Union soon, but for all you fans out there, know this: we are nothing if not interactive. If you want to get involved with the debate – either from inside or outside the Chamber – send a tweet including the handle @OxStuNews. We’ll be sure to include the wittiest and most profound comments on here.
18:01 Hello all and welcome to the OxStu liveblog of the George Galloway extravaganza of October 2013 at the Oxford Union. Stay with the pair of us – Ben Goldstein and Charlie Dennis – as we take you through the ups and downs of what’s sure to be an evening to remember (or forget). Stick around for the build up (yup) or, if not, join us at 8 when the big man himself takes to the Union floor.
Correction: An earlier version of this liveblog mistakenly identified the object of George Galloway’s remarks at 20:04 and 20:05 as Eylon Aslan-Levy. In fact, he was referring to Freddie Shuffrey.