George Galloway quipped that the DUP’s ten MPs were each more valuable than the Brazilian soccer star Neymar through their support for British Prime Minister Theresa May - ‘a robot, Dalek’ - he told an audience in the Bogside last night, who would soon be succeeded by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in 10 Downing Street.
The outspoken former Labour MP made the comments while in conversation with Foyle Sinn Féin MLA and former IRA hungerstriker, Raymond McCartney, in the opener of a series of talks being are being held this week as part of the 25th annual Gasyard Féile.
Mr. Galloway, addressing an audience of upwards of 200 people in the Pilots’ Row Centre, described himself as a life long Irish republican and Sinn Féin supporter, and, referring to the recent Tory/DUP ‘confidence and supply arrangement’ at Westminter, said: “I know that the Tories have paved East Belfast in gold plate. They’ve promised £1.5billion for the DUP, which makes every one of them more valuable than Neymar.”
But he suggested the instability of a Tory minority government would soon become unsustainable, paving the way for a Labour government, led by his “comrade of 40 years”, Jeremy Corbyn, someone he described as “absolutely authentic...the most honest, most authentic political leader ever in Britain”.
“I cannot imagine that the Tories intend to go into the next election with the robot, the Dalek, Theresa May, as their leader.
“So they are bound to replace her and probably quite soon, and when they replace her, the pressure on the new Prime Minister to have an election, to get a democratic legitimation from the electorate will be very, very strong.”
He added: “A new Prime Minister is going to have a hard time denying the pressure for a General Election and the DUP might be open to a better offer, I mean, we’re only haggling over the price, as George Bernard Shaw said to Mrs. Patrick Campbell.”
“It seems to me that Jeremy Corbyn will be the next Prime Minister of Great Britain. I firmly believe that. Hallelujah.”
During the talk, Mr. Galloway spoke of his upbringing in Lochee, Dundee, - known as ‘Little Tipperary’ - the son of a Labourite Scottish factory worker and a second generation Irish republican cleaner.
Describing himself as a life-long Irish republican and Sinn Féin supporter, he told Mr. McCartney: “I have indeed been to Derry many times but I’ve never been introduced by a great man like you.”
He joked: “It’s now the case that Sinn Féin have to think twice as to whether to share a platform with me.”
Mr. Galloway remembered being branded a traitor by the ‘red top’ press in England as a result of his support for Sinn Féin when it was neither profitable nor popular to be associated with Irish republicanism.
“I was supporting Sinn Féin when it was very, very difficult to do so and when I was a Member of Parliament I met the late and great Martin McGuinness, God rest his soul, on a march in Dublin.
“I marched with him and Sinéad O’Connor - by the way, I hope she makes a recovery from her current difficulties - and I marched with Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams in 1990 in Dublin and ‘The Sun’ ran a big picture of me on the front page under a 36 point solid black headline: TRAITOR.
“It was the first time ‘The Sun’ called me a traitor but not the last.”
A left-wing Brexiteer and eurosceptic Mr. Galloway nonetheless suggested the United Kingdom’s imminent departure from the European Union should be used to tactically push for a United Ireland.
“If you think that Brexit is Britain’s difficulty then make it Ireland’s opportunity and you have the opportunity, I think, to make a division in the unionist community by saying to them: Do you want to stay in Britian on its way out of the EU or do you want to stay in Ireland remaining in the EU? If I were here, if I were in your shoes, I would take exactly the same line as you are taking.”
Famously, a long-standing supporter of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) who as a Dundonian councillor succeeded in twinning Dundee with Nablus in 1980, Mr. Galloway also told the audience that Derry should consider twinning with Gaza in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
“You can do it here. Not just the city. A university can twin. A school can twin. And the point of twinning is so that the people on the other end know that somebody else is thinking of them and knows about them, cares about them.
“Don’t underestimate that. Even people under attack, under bombs, it’s a comfort to them to know that somebody in Derry, in Ireland, is thinking about them.”
Mr. Galloway attacked sectarianism within the Left, which, he said, often resulted in splits and divisions, which undermined the supposed aims of divided parties and organisations.
“I’ve known quite a few blind theorists,” he said. “They endlessly peregrinate around the small difference, the narcissicism of the small difference that [Karl] Marx talked about.
“So you get a plethora of left-wing groups who hate the other left-wing groups more than they hate the big enemy and so on. There’s a lot of that about.”
But he said he as hopeful that Britain, at least, was on the cusp of major change.
“[Vladimir Ilyich] Lenin had a wonderful phrase, which I have waited many decades to say with certainty.
“Lenin said that there are decades when nothing happens but there are weeks where decades happen and I had always believed that those weeks would come and I think that they are upon us, at least in Britain.
“They may pass, victory is not guaranteed, but I believe big change is coming.”