Galloway faces Tory attacks


22 Jan 1994

' George Galloway and his Labour colleagues are dishonouring the British troops who fought so valiantly during the Gulf War '

Malcolm Rifkind

SENIOR Tories continued to target Labour MP George Galloway yesterday as attempts began locally to salvage his tattered image.

After weeks of being the victims of a bad press themselves، the Conservatives were unwilling to let the Galloway visit to Iraq pass so quickly without wringing out the last drops of bad publicity for Labour.

Defence Minister Malcolm Rifkind attempted to broaden the attack on the Glasgow Hillhead MP by claiming that his ''fawning on Saddam Hussein'' was far more serious than simply the foolishness of an individual MP.

In order to draw the Labour Party into the criticism of the Iraqi visit، Mr Rifkind، speaking at a meeting of Edinburgh University Conservatives، said that more than 100 Labour MPs shared Mr Galloway's view that UN sanctions against Iraq should be dropped.

Mr Rifkind said that the Labour Party was moving towards Saddam Hussein's viewpoint and that it was up to Labour leader Mr John Smith to make it clear that the 100 Labour MPs who wanted sanctions dropped did not speak for the Labour Party.

Mr Rifkind said: ''George Galloway and his Labour colleagues are dishonouring the British troops who fought so valiantly during the Gulf War.

''They are insulting the intelligence of the British public who know a despot when they see one. They will bring a sense of despair to the people of Iraq who wish to be rid of tyranny at the earliest date.''

Meanwhile، tentative steps to rehabilitate Mr Galloway were taken with the Scottish TUC releasing details of what could be construed as the humanitarian aspect of Mr Galloway's trip to Iraq.

STUC deputy general secretary Mr Bill Speirs said that he had asked Mr Galloway to raise the cases of Iraqis، many of them Kurds، who have been detained by the regime in Iraq as hostages in the past 14 years.

The STUC has had close links with the Scottish Friends of Kurdistan since Dr Kamal Ketuly، chairman of the committee، addressed the STUC's annual congress on the plight of the Kurds three years ago.

Mr Galloway stuck to being a good constituency MP in Glasgow yesterday after the criticism of the past two days. He held a surgery and had a private meeting with Dr Ketuly، one of his constituents، whose brother and 10 other relatives have been detained in Iraq since 1980.

Mr Galloway confirmed that he had raised their cases with the Iraqi authorities and had presented a detailed dossier to both Mr Hussein and Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz: ''I was more than willing to assist these victims of injustice.''

He added، though، that progress in such delicate matters was better made away from the glare of publicity and that he would ''rather not say any more for the time being''.

Source: Harlad Scotland