THE BLOG

The Assault on George Galloway

02/09/2014 11:39 BST | Updated 01/11/2014 09:59 GMT

The assault suffered by George Galloway in broad daylight in a west London street recently was an attack on democracy. Though some might wish it were not the case, Mr Galloway is a Member of Parliament with a mandate to articulate the views he does on issues at home and abroad.

Yet, significantly, the silence from within the political class and mainstream media in response to what by any objective measure was a brutal assault, one that could well have been life threatening had members of the public not intervened, has been deafening.

His alleged attacker is known to have been wearing an IDF T-shirt and on his Facebook page before the assault took place he had posted threatening messages concerning the 60 year old MP for Bradford West.

Though clearly loathed by the political establishment and a large section of the mainstream media, George Galloway has a lot of support for the views he holds not just in Britain but across the world. This is evidenced in the fact he has a following of around 600,000 across Facebook and Twitter, an unprecedented number for an elected politician.

Isn't there something rotten about a society whose elected representatives can be viciously assaulted in broad daylight and the response of the media and political establishments is almost complete silence? If such an attack took place against a pro-Israel MP by a Muslim supporter of Hamas you can bet the condemnation would have been near total and carried on the first page of every mainstream newspaper, not to mention the lead item on every TV and radio news bulletin.

Whatever anyone thinks of George Galloway's political views, his personal courage and conviction in voicing and standing by them over many years is beyond question. This country would be much the poorer without him and the kind of conviction he exemplifies as a consequence. It is also why if assaults against elected Members of Parliament are allowed to pass without condemnation from members of the Government and leading members of the body politic and media, it bodes ill for the state of our democracy and democratic institutions.

A mature democracy embraces the clash of ideas, it does not reject it or revile those who question and challenge and do not toe the line. Conformity is the death of progress while controversy is the very flesh on the bones of a free society. As such, punishment for elected members of Parliament whose views we disagree with or even consider distasteful should take place at the ballot box, never in the street with fists or worse.

Those who have remained silent when they should have spoken out over the assault on George Galloway these past few days have brought our democracy into disrepute.

Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.