In case you are unaware, George Galloway has once again caused outrage. The controversial MP was invited to a debate by the Oxford Union, a debating society which has a rich history of hosting famous figures. Upon learning that his debating partner was an Israeli citizen, Galloway appeared visibly unhappy and declared “I don’t debate with Israelis. I’ve been misled. Sorry.” and later going on to say before he left “I don’t recognize Israel and I don’t debate with Israelis.” While this is undoubtedly a contentious issue for many reasons, was George Galloway right to abandon the debate and leave?
(Below is footage of the beginning of the debate and Galloway walking out)
Personally, I feel Galloway was completely wrong to walk out and as a result has done harm to his views in the process. On a simple note, by refusing to acknowledge his opponent Galloway has denied someone the common courtesy of free speech. By not allowing him to voice his opinion, even if he does not agree with it, George Galloway was being very disrespectful. Having said that, , while I disagree with him completely, I can understand his reasoning up to a point. It is common practice in politics to not share a platform with opinions you disagree with. Ken Livingstone, during the 2012 Mayoral elections pulled out of a BBC debate after learning BNP had been invited, a tradition the Labour Party has long upheld. This is not just a Labour thing, in 2010, the Conservative party candidate for the constituency of Chippenham also refused to share a platform with the BNP.
In a statement Galloway put out later in the evening, he said, “I refused this evening to debate with an Israeli, a supporter of the Apartheid state of Israel. The reason is simple; No recognition, no normalization. Just boycott, divestment and sanctions, until the Apartheid state is defeated.” While I recognise that Galloway reacted the same way as Ken Livingstone did when he refused to share a platform with someone whose opinions he viewed as wrong, it is the manner in which it was done.
His decision to storm out of the meeting was rude, unnecessary and has the complete opposite effect to what he intended, by refusing to acknowledge his opponent as his equal, he has given support for an opposing view he clearly feels strongly against.
This gaff is just one of many Galloway is committing on a daily basis at the moment, having caused a split in the Respect Party after his comments on Assange and the rape claims made against him, Galloway is seemingly on a path of self destruction. And one must question, how long can George Galloway continue acting in the way he does?
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinion of Interact UK