Predictably, Respect MP George Galloway won’t be prosecuted over his threat – or promise – to make Bradford “an Israel-free zone”. In fact Galloway has repeated the comment – almost word-for-word – for which he was originally investigated.
The original comments, made by the Bradford West MP in August, resulted in dozens of complaints to West Yorkshire Police.
According to the newspaper stories so far, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has said – according to Chief Superintendent Paul Money – that “there is insufficient evidence to support any charge”. It also said it had logged it as a “hate incident”.
That’s not much to go on.
If we interpret the few words we’ve been given, the statement that “there is insufficient evidence to support any charge” at least implies that there was some evidence. Though what is meant by “insufficient evidence” in this case? This statement can be interpreted in many ways.
The same goes for the vague words “logged as a ‘hate incident’”. That may simply mean – indeed it does mean – that because the people who reported Galloway’s remarks to the police saw what he said as a hate crime, then the police simply had to log them by that description. That doesn’t mean that the police or the CPS saw what he said as being a hate crime. Indeed, considering the verdict, the CPS didn’t see it that way.
Despite that lack of information, I contacted the police to ask whether I could gain any more information about the CPS’s decision. Basically, the impression I got is that I can’t. The CPS arrives at its decision and then that’s that – as far as the public is concerned. Or, more accurately, the police knew nothing about any further details and then said that the CPS isn’t required to either justify or explain its decision. (This is something which will be looked into.)
In any case, Chief Superintendent Paul Money, Leeds District Commander, described the situation in this way:
A full investigation has been carried out, which included Mr Galloway being voluntarily interviewed under caution. A file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on whether any offences had been committed and they have now concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support any charges.
This also raises questions as to how the legal system works. For example, did the police submit what it saw as sufficient evidence; though the CPS didn’t deem it to be sufficient evidence? Or did the police force involved not believe it had sufficient evidence; though it submitted the details to the CPS anyway? In any case, from what I know, it’s not the police’s responsibility – in cases like this – to decide what is and what isn’t sufficient evidence. That is the CPS’s job.
George Galloway himself has commented on the result in his typical hyperbolic way. He said:
This has been an extremely expensive waste of police and CPS time forced on them by ultra-Zionists who were pursuing a vendetta against me.
So Galloway thinks that Zionists are okay! It’s just “ultra-Zionists” he hates.
You see that’s what happens when a politician relies almost exclusively on bombast and literary skill. Yes, the problem is that when one actually analyses what Galloway says (i.e., away from the soapbox and in cold print), much of it turns out to be rhetorical emptiness peppered with bits of nonsense.
What’s worse than all that is that Galloway repeated the comment for which he was originally investigated. (This man must believe that he’s untouchable.) He said:
I hope the citizens of Bradford will join me in refusing to treat with the advocates of this hateful and oppressive regime and truly make Bradford an Israel-free zone.
He went on to explain himself in the following manner:
My comments were aimed at the state of Israel, which – I repeat what I said at the time – is an illegal, savage and barbarous state, and had nothing whatever to do with race or religion.
I take back not a word and I will continue to forcefully condemn Israel. It remains the case that there is a worldwide boycott of Israel, its goods, its services, its academics.
You may note that he has left out the previous mention of Israeli “tourists”. However, does the boycott of Israeli academics include Shlomo Sand, Ilan Pappé, Sylvain Cypel and the numerous other communist/socialist critics of Israel who populate Israeli universities?)
As I said, there is no justification for the verdict whatsoever in the news pieces I’ve read.
The thing, there have been people who have been imprisoned – in the UK – for five months or more for chanting “Who the fu*k is Allah?”; as well as for burning the Koran. Tommy Robinson’s (the former leader of the English Defence League) parents have had their doors knocked down and houses searched on more than one occasion. Indeed the very criticism of Islam is deemed as a “hate crime” by Facebook, the police, academics, social workers, council workers and whatnot. Yet here’s a politician who has threatened to make a city entirely free of another nationality.
Even the National Union of Students (NUS) has just stated that the a motion against the Islamic State (IS) is “racist” and “Islamophobic”. Yet the blanket dismissal of an entire nation (Israel) is deemed okay by the CPS?
Baroness Warsi once said that “anti-Muslim hatred had become Britain’s last socially acceptable form of bigotry” and that such hatred had “passed the dinner party test”. Yet as everyone who has ever experienced the news and, well, everyday life will know that this is the exact opposite of the truth. When you criticise Islam you are convicted of “hate crimes”, bombs go off, riots ensue and The Guardian and a host of Leftist lawyers and political groups ratchet up their “no platform” policy as they attempt to bring their “progressive” (or totalitarian/collectivist) vision of Britain even closer.
As for dinner parties. I strongly doubt that “anti-Muslim hatred” (which is often the simple criticism of Islam) ever occurs at most middle-class dinner parties – especially in Leftist and left-liberal strongholds like Islington and other places in London. In fact every time I offer even a mild criticism of Islam – not even of Muslims – to members of the middle class, they attempt to shoot me down in flames with words like “racism”, “bigotry” and “Islamophobia”. What’s more, I think that Baroness Warsi knows this. In other words, when she said “anti-Muslim hatred” is acceptable she really meant that the criticism of Islam – and the criticism of Muslims who act on Islamic principles and texts – should be made illegal; as it is in her home country of Pakistan (which she, along with most British Pakistanis, visits on a frequent basis).
So I’m not saying that Galloway should have been prosecuted for the mere criticism of Israel – even for the his generalised and vicious criticisms quoted above. However, he didn’t just criticise Israel, did he? He threatened – or promised – to make a British city (Bradford) free of Israelis and has said this exact thing again. Now that is something else entirely. What would have happened if the BNP said it would make Bradford – or any other city or town in the UK – free of Pakistanis or Iraqis because of the actions of either the Pakistani/Iraqi state or its people? Do I really need to answer that?
*) This is the abridged letter (dated the 15th of October) which West Yorkshire Police has sent to those people who reported George Galloway’s original comments:
Further to my previous letter dated 14th August 2014, in relation to complaints received by West Yorkshire Police regarding the content of a speech made by George Galloway on 2nd August 2014.
A full investigation was conducted which included Mr Galloway being voluntarily interviewed under caution.
Following the interview of Mr Galloway a file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service to enable an independent review to establish if any criminal offences had been committed.
The Specialist Lawyer that was appointed to review the case has considered the information available, and had concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support any charges….
Head of Crime – Leeds District
*) This isn't about George Galloway's criticisms of Israel or even about fairness when it comes to "hate crimes". Many have said that he threatened violence by saying that he'd make Bradford "Israel-free". How else would he have enforced that other than through violence? The police wouldn't have done it.
And it follows that this has nothing to do with hate crimes in the sense that laws against incitement to violence have always existed and have nothing to do with political correctness or "hate crimes". When there have been explicit calls to violence by public figures or others (not, say, criticisms of Islam or Israel), the people concerned have been prosecuted, as when people say "Kill Pakis" in a public sphere. It would also be a criminal offence to shout "There's a bomb in this cinema" when in that cinema. In addition, public calls to abuse children would result in criminal prosecution.
Thus there can never be complete free speech. And there never has been complete free speech.