'You don't give a damn! You don't even know about the Palestinian families! You don't even know that they exist! Tell me the name of one member of the seven members of the same family slaughtered on the beach in Gaza by an Israeli warship. You don't even know their name. But you know the name of every Israeli solder who has been taken prisoner in this conflict. Because you believe, whether you know it or not, that Israeli blood is more valuable than the blood of Lebanese or Palestinians. That's the truth, and the discerning of your viewers already know it.'
That was George Galloway raining fire down on a hapless Sky News interviewer this week. (Watch the full spectacle here) It's about time someone went on the telly and got all shouty crackers about what's going on in the Middle East. Just a shame it had to be him, really.
The thing is, he has the uncanny ability to be both spectacularly right and mortifyingly wrong, often in the same breath. He can make a rousing, stirring call to the humanity in all of us with speeches like the one above while calling the deaths of Israeli soldiers 'a bloody good hiding'. He calls for a just settlement of the Israel/Palestine/Lebanon bloodbath but insists that Hezbollah - while it's firing rockets into civilian areas - isn't a terrorist organisation. He'll speak truth to the buffet of turds that is the Murdoch empire and whore himself on 'Big Brother'. God knows it's hard to find a consistent position on the Middle East, but George will say something that makes you punch the air in righteous delight one minute and have you with your head in your hands the next. It's like he's buying a round while drinking *your* pint.
Still, for all the 'Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability' fellatio, the 'there are one and a half billion Muslims in the world, and all of them know who I am' ego-bloat, and the dark clouds hanging over the state of his Mariam Appeal's accounts, we're pretty sure he's never given the order to have somebody killed. Not even his most frothing critics can accuse him of that. Let's face it, he's a lower order of bastard. And as we said, he's brought a rare glimpse of outrage to the proceedings.
'I think, as any parent would, of my own sons, or daughter. I know I would go mad with grief should it happen to them,' is probably the nearest Tony Blair's ever got to it, speaking after the Omagh bombing in 1998. We've seen precious little display of hypothetical bereavement-induced insanity since.
Tony doesn't want to die either. His bodyguards, bomb-proof car, bullet-proof windows and not using public transport are the giveaway. Writing himself a blank cheque back in 2003, he said that he was prepared to 'meet my maker' and atone for 'those who have died or have been horribly maimed as a result of my decisions'. Just, you know, not for a while.
On the matter of other people meeting their maker he's a bit more laid back, of course. Sooner or later, Tony doesn't mind. 'When people stand up and fight, people will come after you,' he said last week when asked if he thought The War Against Terror was putting Britain at risk. At least he had the honesty to say 'you' and not 'us'. We bet he was the kid at school who held the coats when fights started. What he meant was 'when I tell people to stand up and fight, people will come after you'. As leader of the Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond, once said of the Prime Minister: 'He gambles with other people's chips, and other people count the cost of what he's done.'
Unlike Sky News, Blair's very equal-opportunities when it comes to death: he doesn't want to know *any* of the names. And it's been forgotten amongst the footage of Lebanon being pounded to dust that, in sitting on his hands, Blair's been content for Israeli civilians to meet their maker as well. 'We grieve for the innocent Israelis and innocent Lebanese civilians that are dead,' he said to Parliament back in July. But what does that really mean coming from someone like Blair? He *grieves* for the innocent Israelis and innocent Lebanese civilians? What, really? Can you picture him clutching his hankie over pictures of the dead in Haifa or Qana? Or Basra or even King's Cross for that matter?
It gets overlooked, generally by cosy newspaper columnists and political correspondents who've got the mortgage to pay, that being a leader of the country means accommodating an acceptable level of death. Notice we said acceptable rather than necessary. None of the deaths we've seen in the last few weeks have been necessary; but by his thin, sweaty cowardice Blair, in not calling for a ceasefire and then sloping off on holiday, has demonstrated that he has a personal yardstick of acceptable deaths. He's a reverse Galloway, condemning Hezbollah while giving Israel free reign. He does that camp indignation of his very well when accused of giving Israel 'the green light', doesn't he? But who he thinks he's kidding isn't clear. If only those 1,000 dead Lebanese civilians had thought to join Labour's 1,000 Club, donating £1,000 to the party every year, they might have received a little more attention.
Blair's not unique in this - remember Thatcher sinking the Belgrano during the Falklands conflict - it's a disgusting, dehumanising feature of what it is to be a political leader. It's just that Blair embraced it unsettlingly easily, with the emotional detachment of a sociopath and a personal bodycount at least 70 times larger than Thatcher's. Or maybe it's the Christian in him telling him that all these people are being bombed, shrapnelled and otherwise blown to A Better Place. 'How do you sleep at night, knowing that you've been responsible for the deaths of 100,000 Iraqis?' the New Statesman this week reports a guest at Number 10 asking Blair. 'I think you'll find it's closer to 50,000,' was his reply. What an unmitigated shit he must be. Imagine it being your job to have to interview the bastard. We'd have to drink for at least a week beforehand.
A lot of people rightly say that it's easy to criticise our leaders but much harder to come up with solutions. We'd humbly suggest a Battle Royale featuring the leaders of all the countries currently fucking each other up. Maroon the grisly bastards on an island, give them each a crossbow and let them sort it out man to man. See how cavalier they can be with their own lives. Israel's Olmert versus Hezbollah's Nasrallah. A Blair and Bush tag team up against Syria's Assad and Iran's Ahmadinejad. George Galloway to take on Rupert Murdoch. Right in the fucking eye.
It's a small carnage even the pacifists among us could embrace.