Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bounder banned

Say what you like about George Galloway (actually don't; he's the most litigious figure in public life since Lord Archer) but you cannot deny his rhetorical talents. His description of Christopher Hitchens as a "drink-sodden former Trotskyist popinjay" was a classic. As the target of the jibe himself admitted, it was only a little bit unfair.

But an equal zinger has now been attached to the man himself. In justifying the decision to ban Galloway from Canada, a government spokesman Alykhan Velshi described the supporter of Hamas as an "infandous street-corner Cromwell".

Here I detect a distinct and ironic echo of Gray's Elegy in a Country Churchyard ("Some village Hampden that with dauntless breast/ The little tyrant of his fields withstood,/ Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,/ Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood."), whether it is conscious or not.

Nor do I know whether Velshi is aware of, or cares about, Galloway's Irish Catholic background. But it gives an added sting to the jibe about his cheap demagoguery , and is as good a summary of the man as any. As for infandous, meaning - as you must know by now - unspeakable, you've probably made your minds up about the man by now.

Mocking this rather Spode-like figure probably harms him far more than banning him from, in another one of Mr Velshi's picturesque phrases, "peeing on [Canada's] carpet".

Incidentally: the New York Times, of all papers, has a nice take on the whole business: Canada bars 'indandous' British politician, journalists reach for dictionaries.

PS: So far as I can recall the British MP to banned from a North American country, for somewhat similar reasons to Galloway, was Gerry Adams. Adams, however, was not lacking in friends in the US Congress. (I'm not crazy about this banning of elected politicians from Western democracies, incidentally. Congressman Peter King, a dyed in the wool Noraid supporter - until 9/11 obviously, was never banned from entering Northern Ireland, for instance. I can't see how that would have helped matters at all).

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