Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The debating tactics of George Galloway

As a humble polytechnic graduate, I don’t often I get a pretext to link to the website of University College Cork Philosophical Society. But go there now for this interesting account of one of its debates last week. Sounds like things got pretty heated:

‘Controversial British MP, George Galloway - pictured left - stormed out of a debate in UCC last night. In the debate on US Foreign Policy, organised by the UCC Philosophical Society, Mr. Galloway was proposing the motion 'That This House Believe's [shocking grammar for a posh college, no? – DO] US Foreign Policy is the Biggest Crime Since World War II' against Dublin-based TV producer and journalist, Gerry Gregg.

‘In front of 500 people, Mr. Galloway spoke of the role of the United States in supporting Israeli actions in Palestine, while Mr. Gregg spoke of the history of the USSR in comparison to the United States.

‘Controversy arose when Mr. Gregg made several allegations against Mr. Galloway regarding his links with Saddam Hussein's regime, allegations to which Mr. Galloway took exception, demanding that Mr. Gregg withdraw the remarks.

‘The debate continued when Mr. Gregg refused, but controversy erupted again when Mr. Gregg repeated his allegations, prompting Mr. Galloway to walk out of the debate, criticising the chair of the debate for failing to intervene as well as threatening legal action against Mr. Gregg over his remarks.

‘Between 150-200 of the audience walked out of the debate with Mr. Galloway, who returned to the UK early this morning. Mr. Gregg stood over his remarks last night, stating that he was willing to defend all his comments in court should Mr. Galloway take further action.


‘The debate continued following the walk-out with up to 300 people remaining, while the motion was defeated when put to the floor.’

Obviously I don’t know what was said, and the website seems shy of repeating the claims, probably advisedly. But unless the provocation truly was extreme, such tactics are rarely the best way to win friends and influence people.

[Hat tip: Iain Dale]

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