Protesters clash with George Galloway at UCLU debate
George Galloway’s appearance at UCLU Debate Soc ended in students being forcibly removed from site
On Monday evening Respect MP George Galloway appeared at UCLU Debating Society in proposition of the motion ‘This House has no confidence in the United Nations Security Council’, provoking the sort of controversy that has become second-nature in his visits to university campuses in recent times.
On Holocaust Memorial Day, there were early rumblings of UCL Jewish Society students organising a protest against the former-Labour party politician noted for his outspoken criticism of Israel. Yet, it was members of UCLU Women’s Network that prompted an early disruption to the debate that also featured a panel of politicians and academics.
Shortly before speeches began, two women including prominent campus feminist Beth Sutton began distributing leaflets accusing Mr. Galloway of being a ‘rape apologist’ and ‘belittling the experience of survivors’ after his statements in defense of suspected sex offender and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The MP for Bradford West has been accused of trivialising the severity of his crimes as ‘bad sexual etiquette’.
Ms Sutton walked onstage to launch a verbal assault against Mr Galloway, whom she labelled a ‘disgrace’. Standing in front of the panel, the Women’s Network member appealed to the audience before being aggressively wrestled off stage by a woman purported to be part of Mr Galloway’s staff.
Security diffused the tussle and guided Ms Sutton and another woman, UCL German student Annie Tidbury, off site. Anonymous leaflets had been distributed by more of Galloway’s detractors in the meantime, urging the audience of students to ‘treat anything he says with caution’. Lifted from a recent article published by Joathan Hunter, Campus Director of pro-Israel charity StandWithUS, these underlined the past support offered byMr Galloway for dictators including Bashar al-Assad and Saddam Hussain, and his controversial decision to leave a debate at Oxford University last year after discovering his opponent was Israeli.
Speeches continued uninterrupted afterwards as Mr Galloway launched an attack against the failure of the United Nations Security Council to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He joined a Kent University lecturer in proposition of the motion against Sir John Holmes, former UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinaton, and David Wardrop, Chairman of the Westminster UN Association.
The auditorium packed with UCL students voted unanimously in support of the proposition 40-17 with 17 abstentions as Galloway left Gower Street unscathed.
The same could not be said for Ms Sutton, who released a tweet shortly after the debate critcising the female response to her protest.