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Tuesday, 17 February 2009

George Galloway: Because you're Gorgeous

The maverick MP knows how to get attention. This time, however, he is doing it by leading a mile-long convoy of aid trucks all the way from London to Gaza. Cole Moreton meets... George Galloway.

'Am I looking for publicity? I'd be a bloody
stupid political leader that wasn't,' says Galloway
Gorgeous George just cannot help himself. Describing the huge convoy he is leading to Gaza, packed with food, clothes and medical supplies, he begins with a proud recital of the statistics: "One hundred vehicles. A mile long. Aid worth a million pounds." If he smiles like a cat that's got the cream, who can argue? The help is needed. The vehicles – trucks, cars, ambulances, fire engines, even a boat for the fishermen – that left London yesterday at the start of a three-week overland journey have been donated and are crewed by volunteers, in a spontaneous gesture he claims to have inspired but not to control. But this is George Galloway. You'll find him at the head of the column, where the cameras can see him. Driving a Mercedes 4x4.

This being George, he has a Winnebago motorhome in which to sleep while everyone else has to kip down in tents or in their cabs. "I am 54 years of age," he says with a look that dares a challenge. "I do have to appear on television when we stop." He will actually fly back to London for three days a week, to host radio shows and his surgery as MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, while the others press on.

This being George, there has to be hyperbole. "This is a vast armada, the biggest convoy of British vehicles to cross North Africa since Montgomery and the Eighth Army." His grandfather Tommy was there. "I grew up with his lovely black-and-white pictures of the desert." And, being George, he cannot help himself from turning up the heat. Most of those who are going with him are British Muslims. "If I had said to the youth, 'Right, break out the Kalashnikovs, we're heading for Palestine,' they would have been there. The people are boiling mad." More