"Traitor" MP Left in Lurch

The City Council, an Oxford Mail front page and the suspended Labour “MP for Baghdad” caused confusion for students on both sides of the political spectrum this week. An Oxford Students Stop the War Coalition meeting to be addressed by George Galloway MP was due to be held at the Town Hall today, before being controversially cancelled and then rescheduled at the last minute. The farce was complicated by the prospect of the Oxford University Conservative Association’s “first ever protest,” over Galloway’s close links with Saddam Hussein. Managers at the Town Hall cancelled today’s meeting because of fears over the numbers expected to attend. However, OUCA trumpeted the cancellation as a moral victory and the headline on the Oxford Mail’s front page on Wednesday declared, “City council bans ‘traitor’ Galloway”. City Councillor Rick Muir, one of the organisers of the meeting, said that the details of the piece in the Oxford Mail were, “simply untrue” while an email circulated on the Oxford Stop the War mailing list early on Thursday morning accepted that the meeting had been moved from the Town Hall but affirmed, “This is not due to banning of George Galloway by anyone.” John Townsend, the OUCA President who had organised protest to bring attention to the Glasgow MPs support of Saddam’s Ba’athist regime told Cherwell, “I see this as a victory for freedom of speech. Galloway needs to be challenged.” Organisers are now hurriedly seeking an alternative venue so that the meeting can go ahead as planned on Friday evening. Townsend insisted that if meeting was moved the planned protest would follow it saying, George Galloway is not a whose views should be given free airing in an uncritical environment.” Joe Silk, of the Oxford Students Stop the War coalition, said, “George Galloway and other speakers all have interesting views about this and they all have right to speak out in public”. The cancellation and threatened protest comes as another blow Galloway, the disgraced MP Glasgow Kelvin, who has been suspended by the Labour party pending the outcome of Government inquiry into dealings with former Iraqi leaders. At the time of press Galloway’s office confirmed to Cherwell the MP will be coming to Oxford today, but the venue is still open question.
ARCHIVE: 3rd Week TT 2003