Having expended sweat, personal finance, time and effort to bring his tireless crusade investigating ‘The Killing$ of Tony Blair’ to screen, Galloway is understandably disagreeing that he may become a victim of his own abilities. My point is that, because he is so telly-friendly, armed with a glint in his eye and a wit honed on ‘Celebrity Big Brother’, always ready with a verbal flourish where sanguine facts will do, his untrappable charisma may well dent the seriousness of his mission. While surprisingly bashful about these attributes, Galloway informs me he’s read, too, that a more impartisan voice would have been a more suitable, authoritative figure on screen. Having consumed and digested, however, he’s having none of it.
“A less partisan person might not have sold his house, raised these huge funds on Kickstarter to finance the film, and recruited these other luminaries to contribute to the film,” he points out. “And you would probably not be speaking to them about it today.” On the latter point, we are certainly in accord.
The ‘killing$’ of the title are three-fold, he believes. “the death of the Labour Party, the deaths of thousands of Iraqis, and the money Blair has made since” (hence the dollar of the title).
‘The Killing$’ certainly has Galloway’s anti-Blair zeal written all over it, distinguishable from previous films on the topic by the his turn of phrase, the unmistakable Dundee burrrr with an acknowledged amount of Michael Moore DNA thrown in, door-stepping Blair’s London offices and all. It’s a tireless journey through decisions made by the Labour leader while in power, and the fortune he has accrued since his departure from government.
For Galloway, it is the connection between these two, his claim that the latter influenced the former, that is Tony Blair’s biggest crime.
“To be rewarded for those decisions adds insult to injury,” he says. “This revolving door he created between positions of parliamentary power and positions of industry, this was a paradigm shift in British politics. Prior to that, it was considered unseemly to make a fortune on the back of a parliamentary career. He changed all that.
“It wasn’t just immoral, it will encourage the others who follow.”
Wouldn’t this be considered the norm in other countries, for example, America?
“Well, yes, but I do not believe our transatlantic cousins should necessarily be aped in all things,” he dispenses crisply.
When did our popular ‘things can only get better’ PM begin his descent into pariah-dom? Galloway thinks he knows exactly…
“It was Yugoslavia. That intervention into overseas events gave Blair a rush – like giving an alcoholic a taste of crack cocaine.”
But the former Labour MP is quick to say he was never that impressed. “All the trumpeting of 1997, I watched it ice-cold. I predicted exactly this kind of political trajectory.”
It’s an eclectic roll-call of disillusioned luminaries on screen in the film, from Stephen Fry to Will Self. Galloway is disappointed that time didn’t allow every old friend to make the cut, but he assures me the lack of pro-Blair voices wasn’t for want of trying – “I emailed his offices, plus those of every single member of his Cabinet. Not only did they not agree, they did not reply.”
He laughs that one person he overlooked for the film was the man he sat next to on the Labour benches for decades, one Jeremy Corbyn. Post-Blair, it seems strange that his fellow agitator Corbyn is on the front bench, while Galloway has no bench at all, after his defeat as a Respect MP for Bradford West at last year’s General Election, following his expulsion from the Labour Party in 2003. Does he find this rueful?
“We are living in an age where Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell are all in the Labour Party, and Ken Livingstone and I are not,” he reflects. “I find this unnatural.”
Busy with his radio show, a book about the film on the way, is there a fresh political harbour into which Galloway may steer his ship? “There is a plan,” he starts. “But this is not the time to reveal it.”
And what does he want by way of future for Blair?
“There must be justice in court for Tony Blair, the obvious place being the Hague,” he replies.
“Now that might not happen, but of this I am certain – there will be courtrooms, with individual actions brought by those grieving parents of soldiers sent to Iraq.
“In the small detail of the Chilcot report,there is all the evidence you need – that he remains guilty of malfeasance in public office, arguably of manslaughter, and certainly a lack of preparedness for war. Of course, he was hiding the fact he was going to war, so of course he couldn’t prepare.
“All in all, he should be keeping his lawyers in fees for many years.”
And then with a final flourish, George Galloway beams. “Perhaps Cherie could help – why not keep it in the family?”
See, he just can’t help himself.
‘The Killing$ of Tony Blair’ has its world premiere in London tonight, at the Curzon Soho, followed by a Q&A hosted by Keith Allen and featuring a panel to include George Galloway, Michael Mansfield QC and David Davies MP. The film and Q&A will then be touring nationwide, with a DVD & digital HD released on 15 August. Tap our picture below to open our slideshow:
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