Socialist Worker

George Galloway: London bomb atrocities are the bitter fruit of Western policies in the Middle East

by George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green & Bow
Issue No. 1960

Lindsey German, convenor of Stop the War Coalition, addresses a peace vigil in central London last Saturday (Pic: Richard Searle)

Lindsey German, convenor of Stop the War Coalition, addresses a peace vigil in central London last Saturday (Pic: Richard Searle)

No one can condone the violence aimed at working people going about their daily lives in London last Thursday. They have not been a party to, nor are they responsible for, the decisions of their government.

They are entirely innocent and I, and Respect, condemn those who have killed or injured them.

I spent time at the Royal London hospital in my constituency where the medical staff toiled, without a break, to deal with the casualties.

I walked among the emergency workers, including the firefighters from the stations that have had engines taken away from them as economy measures.

I have spoken to the transport workers, whose heroism on the day is too rarely recognised and whose questions over the handling of the disaster have yet to be answered.

These are all public sector workers serving the public not private interests and they should stay in the public sector. I have been attacked, from predictable quarters, for speaking out in parliament and in the media last Thursday.

But within three hours of the atrocities Tony Blair and George Bush were claiming them as a vindication of their “war on terror”.

That cannot be allowed to stand. The primary responsibility for last Thursday’s bloodshed lies with the perpetrators of those acts. However, the acts did not come out of a clear sky.

People killed in explosions by razor-sharp red-hot steel and splintering flying glass die the same death whether they are in London or Fallujah. When the US armed forces, their backs guarded by our armed forces, reduced Fallujah to rubble not a whisper found its way into the House of Commons.

A swamp of hatred towards this country has been watered by the invasion and occupation of Iraq, by the daily destruction of Palestinian homes and by the occupation of Afghanistan.

The enmity generated by those great events feeds the terrorism of bin Laden and the other Islamist terrorists. Is that such a controversial point?

When I was on the Labour benches and spoke in the aftermath of 9/11, I said that I despise Osama bin Laden. I have always despised him. I did so when the US and British governments set him to war in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

I said nearly four years ago that if they handled 9/11 in the wrong way they would create 10,000 bin Ladens. Does anyone doubt that 10,000 bin Ladens at least have been created by the events of the past few years?

The pictures from Abu Ghraib, the hell of Guantanamo Bay, the daily humiliation of the Palestinians by Ariel Sharon’s forces — all these have contributed to the bitterness against us.

Blair’s government has hitched this country, against the will of the majority of its people, to Bush’s global ambitions. The government says this has nothing to do with Iraq because 9/11 happened before the invasion of that country.

But Al Qaida took shape out of the last attack on Iraq, in 1991, and the murderous sanctions regime that followed only gave it another grievance to exploit.

The policies of successive US and British governments had already created manifold grievances.

The anti-war movement, and the British government’s own security services, warned that the invasion of Iraq would inflame those grievances and make a terrorist attack in Britain more likely.

Bush and Blair said the war on Iraq would create a safer world — it has not. They said there were weapons of mass destruction — there were not. They said Al Qaida operated there—they did not. But they do now.

If the British government continues with this disastrous policy, greater disasters will follow — to the people of Iraq, to our troops in Iraq and to the citizens of our country. If we bomb them, they will bomb us.

The only way out of this morass is to reverse the policies that have taken us into it. As the Spanish people showed us last year, the way out is to withdraw from Iraq and to break from Bush’s war on terror.

It is to address the grievances across the region, not to add to them by support for Israel’s Ariel Sharon, and for the corrupt kings and presidents of Arabia.

If we start to drain the swamp, we can look forward to the day it dries up, when the monsters that lurk in it will have nothing to feed on.

George Galloway was the only MP to challenge the consensus in parliament in the debates last Thursday following the bombings. You can find the record of his speech on Hansard.

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Sat 16 Jul 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1960
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