George Galloway’s stunning victory at Bradford West has been treated with awe and adulation by his supporters and dismay and disgust by those who are not.
It is the nature of the man that he has polarised opinion in this way.
For on one hand, there is the George Galloway who champions causes such as the Mariam appeal that highlighted the devastating effect a decade-long sanctions were having on the children of Iraq, whilst on the other, there are many who are left wondering exactly why he is doing this.
One subscriber has asked me, what my impressions of him have been.
So, here goes.
The first time I met George Galloway, he was the Labour MP for Glasgow Kelvin, a maverick but highly confident about his position within New Labour.
He was so confident that he attempted to launch a newspaper aimed at the Asian community, for which I worked.
In one interview he gave me for the newspaper, he informed me that the Taliban were a creation of the CIA and that the Americans were aiming to use them against China some time in the future.
That interview was conducted some four years before 9/11.
Of course, the majority of his work at this stage was about Iraq and what sanctions were doing to this country, a country that was also being bombed by US-UK aircraft, who had set up no fly zones.
The daily grind which eventually cost half a million lives of small children received little or no attention here, as did the deaths of civilians from the bombing raids.
Iraq continued to be in a state of war during this decade, and yet newspapers over here, were more interested in George’s business dealings with Saddam and then later with the Benazir Bhutto-backed East newspaper.
There was even a story of a fling with a Cuban maid, something he denied.
No doubt, little Mariam who he brought back from Iraq for treatment in Scotland, and her mother will probably have nothing but good things to say about someone who in highlighting a great crime against humanity also saved a life.
Having said all this, I remember being asked to stop writing Amnesty International sourced stories about the Algerian government killing its own people during that country’s brutal civil which had begun because the military would not accept the outcome of an election that put the Islamists into power.
George had even written a piece questioning the legitimacy of Amnesty and its claims.
The last time, I saw him at this stage was during a speech where he presented the back to health Mariam to the world. He was clearly angry with the media at the time, who were opening many lines of inquiry into him, and decided to accuse me of being part of the enemy, or as he put it, ‘my old friend at the back.’ (of the crowd, where I was struck by the ferocity of his verbal attack)
The second time I encountered George Galloway, was at Press TV where he is a star. Then, he had been expelled from the Labour party, and had also lost his parliamentary seat due to boundary changes at Bethnal Green.
He was angry with me the first time, because I had not opened the door to him – I was actually lost in my work at the time, though he didn’t seem to want to know. The next day, he said hello, and I later discovered why – I had given my showreel to the head of documentaries who proceeded to use my ideas from there as well as from my website. I remember George claiming on Sky that he was the first to predict that Libya would descend into post Soviet Union Afghanistan-style chaos with the fall of Gaddafi. Actually, I beg to differ and so does my twitter entry dated 20 March, 2011!
This, and his behaviour in public, all of course pointed to someone who was a spent force, someone in the twilight of their career.
Well, events in Bradford have proved everyone wrong – although I did notice that he used a number of my lines during his victory speech, especially the one about one million lives being lost in Iraq which I used at City University’s own version of Question Time.
Having said this, you would be a hard man to not applaud his return.
The question is now, will he deliver to the people who have put their faith in him?