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Workers Party leader addresses Chinese conference

Party leader George Galloway addressed an important meeting in China entitled The Second International Forum on Democracy.

In his speech George pointed out the glaring differences between our failing democratic system that cannot deliver for British workers, and the extraordinary successes of the Chinese in recent years.

George pointed out the hypocrisy of those who lecture the world about democratic values whilst laying waste to countries, encouraging proxy wars and misrepresenting their own populations.

“Your Excellency, Minister Zhu Lei, Minister Hu, distinguished guests, and especially our Chinese hosts, I celebrate the content and the spirit of the speeches that we have heard this morning.

“President Xi Jinping said no system of governance is universal, no civilization is superior to another, and no one country can dictate to the world. The problem is, the masters of war do not accept this.

They brandish their exceptionalism, their ‘manifest destiny’. They brandish their system of ‘democracy’, i.e., they sail their warships around the world whilst threatening other people. They deploy their weapons and their military bases and their rhetoric of war and threats against others.

Professor Sachs just quoted Aristotle and Confucius. Let me refer to the blessed St. Augustine in his wonderful book City of God in which he describes an encounter on the high seas between Alexander the Great and a pirate ship. Ordering the pirate ship to halt, Alexander demands, “how dare you terrorise the waters as a thief?” And the pirate captain, who must have been very bold, answers Alexander. “How dare you terrorise the whole world?”

Calling yourself an emperor and calling other men as you please? Isn’t that the world we’re living in right now? We have a surfeit of democracy in Western countries which are increasingly devoid of democratic content.

I speak as a six term member of the British Parliament, which likes to call itself the Mother of Parliaments. Almost 30 years I sat in an august hall with lots of flummery and wigs and rules and regulations. But what is the achievement of that democracy? We have a saying. I’m sure you have it too. “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”. What are we eating in our Western democracy? Well, less and less is the first answer. We are going backwards while China is going forward.

China is raising people out of poverty. Our system is putting people into poverty. France is in flames. Britain is shivering with cold, with an increase in energy bills and in households of four times, four times (!) the cost of heating this year as compared to last.

In the United States, 80 million people have no health insurance. They talk about human rights. Where is the human right to a job in Western countries? Where is the human right to a house? Ask the growing numbers of people living in tents in San Francisco and in many other parts of the United States. Where is the human right to health? The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Or to use a Chinese saying “what is the point of a cat, black or white, if it doesn’t catch any mice?”

Your system is the one that is moving forward. Therefore, to what extent is our democracy superior to yours? His Excellency, the former Prime Minister of Thailand, said there was increasing polarisation in western democracies, but I beg to differ, for actually, in Western democracies we have two cheeks of the same backside, two sides of the same coin. Sure, you can vote for this party or that party, but both parties stand for the same thing, have the same programme, essentially of neoliberal economics at home and imperialism abroad. What kind of choice is that?

As I heard a wise man, Chinese man say on television “in China you cannot change the party, but you can change the policies”. In Western democracies you can change the party, but you cannot change the policies. It’s 25 years since I last spoke in Beijing, so long ago that the present Foreign Minister of China was one of my audience, taking notes at my speech. The kind of development we have seen in China over these 25 years, particularly over the last decade, is a lesson to other so called democracies.

We live in a world where some countries arrogate to themselves the power of dictates. What a contrast with China. This is the first day of Ramadan. I have all of my life being closely associated with the Arab world, with the broader Muslim world. China achieved more in the last few weeks in bringing together Saudi Arabia and Iran, the schools of the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam. China achieved more in the last few weeks than decades of Western domination. Including, as my good friend His Excellency, Senator from Pakistan, reminded us, this is the 20th anniversary of an entirely illegal invasion of a sovereign member of the United Nations, which threatened no other member of the United Nations in defiance of the charter of the United Nations in defiance of international law and in which millions of people were either killed or maimed or displaced dispersed as refugees and fanatic extremism was generated. Al Qaeda, ISIS and the alphabet soup of fanatic extremism cascaded all over the world.

These are the achievements of the people who tell us they are exceptional. These are the achievements of the people who tell us it’s their way or the highway.

Well, I think I speak for a growing number of people who do not yet know. And we must work to tell them what People’s democracy means. They don’t yet know that. But they do know their own democracy isn’t working because it isn’t producing anything for them. And it is sowing not just disharmony, but hatred, violence, bloodshed and war around the world.

Our friend, in the best of all these good speeches that have been made today from Zambia, made this point so powerfully: those who have been identified with the gravest injustices lecture the rest of us on justice. They tell us about a rules based order which they invented, which means their rules, which they order us to obey. That period is coming quickly to an end.

Yes, changes are underway that haven’t been seen for a hundred years. Yes, there are decades when nothing happens, but there are weeks when decades happen. We have just witnessed one of those weeks. And may we experience much more of it. Thank you, sir, for the invitation to speak here today.

George in Beijing

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