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January 27, 2010

Miliband, Aboul Gheit and Galloway

Yvonne Ridley

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I am beginning to wonder what is the point of David Miliband - a question I've no doubt Gordon Brown posed just a few days ago following the failed coup to have him ousted.

He has already drawn fire from angry Labour backbenchers, who felt his seven-hour delay in responding publicly to Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt’s call for a secret ballot on Brown's leadership last week was regarded as an indication that he may have been weighing up its implications for his own leadership ambitions.

The truth is Miliband is hardly leader material.

He fails to inspire and when I see him on the world stage with other foreign ministers he looks like some sort of young interloper in short trousers … a mere pipsqueak.

But he is not the only political pygmy on that world stage – step forward Ahmed Aboul Gheit, someone else with the presence of an empty pinata.

Both are immodest little men with much to be modest about and yet there they are in highly elevated positions, plotting and scheming like a couple of school sneaks rather than acting like international statesmen as their offices demand.

Only the other day, Aboul Gheit, sneaked into Britain for a 30 minute meeting with Miliband … there was a virtual media blackout.

The very next day British MP George Galloway was unceremoniously deported from Egypt less than 48 hours after his Viva Palestina humanitarian aid convoy had victoriously reached Gaza.

He was roughly manhandled by Hosni Mubarak's secret police - probably the very same secret police who tried to punch me in the face and rip off my hijab ... these thugs succeeded in doing that to other Muslim women during a street demonstration in Cairo and video evidence is plentiful should you doubt my words.

I’m proud to say Galloway is a close friend of mine although I’ll be the first to admit he's not to everyone's liking. His forthright manner has a ‘Marmite’ affect on people - they either love him or hate him.

But even those who dislike Galloway admire his quick fire wit and ability to articulate. Whenever the Respect MP rises to his feet in the House of Commons you can guarantee one thing … the backbenches begin to fill and the Speaker wishes he’d taken the day off as do those who get caught in his vocal crosshairs.

Even his shadow has more presence and personality than Aboul Gheit and Miliband – so one can only imagine their childlike glee and sniggers once the decision was made to deport the feisty Scot.

However, it was, in soccer terms, an own goal because all they did was put the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow on an even higher pedestal.

And in doing so left themselves exposed for having turned their once great offices into a petty, vindictive arena to attack a man who in the eyes of the Arab world is a hero for having led hundreds of European, American and Turkish people into Gaza bearing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of aid after an exhausting four week long journey with many trials and tribulations on the way.

Well I hate to rain on their parade, but Galloway is now planning to join a flotilla of ships to break the siege of Gaza by sea in March - this way at least he will be spared the thoroughly unpleasant businesses of ever having to deal with Aboul Gheit and his ilk again.

In a few years time the names of Aboul Gheit and Miliband will be long forgotten in their own countries nevermind overseas, but I'd like to bet the name of George Galloway will live on for a few generations in the Middle East as well as London's East End where he represents his constituents with the same passion, courage and vigour.

Yvonne Ridley is a British journalist, author and film-maker who presents a weekly political show called The Agenda and co-hosts the Rattansi & Ridley show for Press TV. She is also a member of the Free Gaza Movement which intends to break the Gaza siege by sea in the Spring. See her website for details:

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