Scott McGregorScott McGregor of Rutherglen CLP says George Galloway should be welcomed back to Scottish Labour to stand as an MP in 2020.

 

While Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Labour should be applauded for pursuing ‘new talent’, we cannot dismiss the importance of experience. No party can afford to lose the likes of Alexander, Brown, Darling and Murphy without a negative impact. I believe one person who could provide some desperately needed experience for the Labour Party, particularly Scottish Labour, is George Galloway.

The political talent of Galloway is beyond doubt. A skilled orator, a colourful and passionate character who always commands the audience, and one who knows how to succeed against the odds in an election or two. He is a figure who was described as ‘Debater of the Year’ by The Spectator magazine and who demonstrated his political ability on the world stage in the United States Senate. All these are attributes to which the voting public are very attracted. Could he be the figure who is most likely to convince that audience of Tory and SNP failures?

Like many, I was dismayed during the referendum when some on the left supported a Yes vote. When the Better Together and United With Labour campaigns struggled to engage the public in Scotland, it was Galloway who stepped forward with his own tour to support the view that solidarity always trumps nationalism. He even seemed enough of an intimidating opponent for Nicola Sturgeon to object to his presence in a live TV debate.

Of course Galloway is not without controversy and could be perceived as both politically and personally confrontational. His stance on the Iraq war in itself was not objectionable, but the delivery of the message perhaps left room for improvement. He has not been known for his reluctance to address politically delicate issues and touched on topics such as the implications for the Catholic faith during the referendum.

Nonetheless, characters who court controversy are not unfamiliar in the Labour Party. We only have to look at our current Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who in the past has delivered his own controversial messages. If McDonnell can have a role in Labour after some tricky dialogue over the years, why not Galloway?

I envisage trying to win back SNP seats by 2020. Imagine Galloway in a Glasgow seat. A Scotsman, an undisputed socialist, a first class orator who always dominates debates, and who always who always stands up for people. Picture Galloway against most of the current crop of SNP MPs.

There would undoubtedly be those who would scorn his return. But it would be a story, it would generate interest, the sort of interest that would be mainstream news not only in Scotland but in the rest of the UK. I saw first hand the apparent level of support the Yes campaign seemed to be attracting among 16/17 year olds. Even if it has since come to light that it was a campaign riddled with flaws, some of this support has clearly transferred directly to the SNP. It was a movement that captured the imagination, and embodied change. Galloway could add more to the current excitement in the Labour Party after the election of Jeremy Corbyn and help win back the hearts and minds of our disillusioned youth and older members alike.

After the disastrous general election results in Scotland, we are in no position to turn our back on anyone, particularly not someone as politically informed or charismatic as George Galloway. Although he was suspended by the Labour Party, our Scottish leader has stated that we need ‘more autonomy for Scottish Labour’. Perhaps a potential return to Labour could be considered?

Kezia Dugdale’s attempt to recruit new talent is indeed admirable. However, existing talent cannot be ignored, especially when our chips are down. George? I believe he may only be a phonecall away from saying ‘Naw’ to the London mayoral election and ‘Aye’ to Scottish Labour.