November 18, 2003 | Broadcast

Market Call

Prime Minister Tony Blair has held fast in his support and he’s getting a boost from some recent opinion polls. So where is British public opinion when it come to support for President Bush and for keeping troops in Iraq? It’s our “Tough Call”. Joining us from London, Independent Member of Parliament George Galloway and Andrew Apostolou from the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Gentlemen, good to have you with me.

Mr. Galloway, let me start with you here. We know that there will be protests with the president’s visit. Tell us how deep the dissatisfaction is at this point with President Bush’s policies with Iraq and should Britain divorce itself from them?

GEORGE GALLOWAY, INDEPENDENT, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Well I’m afraid President Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger are pretty disastrous public profile for the United States to be showing the world. I think the president, when he arrives here this evening, will be the least welcome foreign visitor since William the Conqueror nearly 1,000 years ago.

He’s as welcome as the plague and hundreds of thousands of British people will turn onto the streets to demonstrate against them and will topple a 17-foot statue of George W. Bush and beat it with slippers as it falls to the ground. And we’ll be led by an American. We’ll be led by Ron Kovik, born on the Fourth of July, who spent 45 years in a wheelchair for his patriotism to the United States. So nobody should confuse it with a hatred of the American people whom we love and with whom we have a special relationship but a detestation of this most right-winged president that the United States has ever had.

SCHAFFLER: Andrew, I’d like your comments now. Is it that bad?

ANDREW APOSTOLOU, DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Not at all and Mr. Galloway, of course, as we know in Britain, is a long-standing apologist for Saddam Hussein so we expect him to be anti-George Bush. And 62 percent of Britain, according to an opinion poll in today’s “Guardian”, think that the United States is a force for good in the world. Only 15 percent think the United States is a force for evil or bad in the world. And I would say that Mr. Galloway represents even the minority of the minority. After all, there aren’t too many Ba’athists in Britain.

SCHAFFLER: Mr. Galloway, I’m sure you want to respond to that.

GALLOWAY: Well, perhaps, when you’ve seen the pictures of the hundreds of thousands of British people demonstrating, you might want to have a little more humility about that. The opinion poll in the “Times” two days before showed exactly the reverse, namely that 63 percent of British people think that the bizarre special relationship between our labor leader and the “Toxic Texan” is very bad for Britain.

But I want to argue, especially as I’m speaking to an American audience, that it is bad for America, too. This man is not just an ignorant, foolish and dangerous man for the rest of the world. He’s damaging the United States of America, its interest in the safety of its people and the reputation of that great land.

And so we’re hoping that our demonstration will reach the public in America so that next November they might weigh it in the balance when they decide whether or not he should be given a second term. And pregnant chads and hanging chads and electoral fraud notwithstanding, we must hope the American people take that opportunity to rid the world and rid themselves of this most foolish man.

SCHAFFLER: Andrew, before we further this discussion with you, I want to point out something in the poll that you cited about the military attack on Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein, whether or not it was justified. The numbers are a little closer on that, as far as justified, 47 percent, unjustified, 41 percent. Is this a problem that is great enough that there is a liability for the British prime minister and if there is a liability for him, should the Bush administration policies change at all?

APOSTOLOU: Well I must say I’ve lost count of the number of times Americans have asked me if Tony Blair is in trouble. Actually, it’s the leader of the opposition conservative party who just lost his job. Tony Blair has won two elections with spectacularly large majorities; sadly George Galloway was one of his MPs briefly. And he’s going to go on to win the next elections because he has such a large majority.

The fact is that the two biggest parties in Britain that polled over 70 percent of the last election, and that’s the only poll that really counts, remember, the general election, supported the war in Iraq. And once more, even the third party in Britain that opposed the war and that is in with the sort of nasty extremists that Mr. Galloway’s in with, the Liberal Democrats, even that party now supports British troops staying in Iraq until the job is done, until we have finally defeated the remnants of Mr. Galloway’s friends in the Ba’ath Party and until we have implanted a better decent Iraq that these people who are demonstrating never demonstrated for.

SCHAFFLER: Andrew, quickly, the alliance between Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair stronger than ever in your opinion?

APOSTOLOU: Absolutely. And Gordon Brown, who is the only potential rival for Tony Blair’s job has today made it very clear that he is also, like the majority of Britain’s, in favor of the Atlantic Alliance, in favor of working with the United States and in favor of getting the job done in Iraq.

SCHAFFLER: Andrew Apostolou, thanks very much. Mr. Galloway, 10 seconds left with you. Will opinions change after this visit?

GALLOWAY: Well I never wrestle with chimney sweeps so I won’t stoop to answer the smears of your guest, just to say watch this space, watch the television screen, listen to what the British people …

APOSTOLOU: … speaking with Mr. Galloway is like swimming in sewage, thank you.

SCHAFFLER: Obviously, you two gentleman don’t get along, but we appreciate your time and your opinion. I’d like to thank George Galloway, as well, Independent Member of Parliament. Thank you gentlemen.