Michael Barrymore, Jodie Marsh and Maggot from Goldie Lookin' Chain. Perhaps the most surprising entrant in this year's Celebrity Big Brother house was politician George Galloway. With politicians being more detached from reality than ever before it was a maverick move by Galloway to place politics in the heartland of Britain and give a voice to his Respect Party.

Our correspondent Alex McCann met up with Galloway a couple of weeks prior to him going into the house. A man short in stature he greets us with a firm handshake, a warm smile and sits down for his eight interview of the day. As he explains the reason for his recent status lies very much with the claims laid before him at the American senate

"After the American Senate. That changed everything. You know every cloud has a silver lining and it made me more global if you like. I had an audience, a level of attendance at my meetings. I had a level of book sales. Everything doubled over night and I became an overnight sensation after 30 years of trying"

Over the past three and half years George Galloway has made over 2000 speeches internationally which he compares to that of Bob Dylan

"I made 13 speeches in 11 days in America. The day I got back I did a talk in London that night. It basically is never ending. It's the Never Ending Tour like Bob Dylan" he chortles before continuing "I was contacted by an agent at Clive Conway Productions who do these sort of things and had put on such shows before with Tony Benn and Alistair Campbell. They said people would pay money to hear you and as I'd made almost 2000 speeches since 9/11, which is definitely a world record, there's no politician who has ever made 2000 speeches in three and a half years. Just work that out, there's only 365 days in a year. And as I'd done all that for free when they said "You know we could put you in a theatre and charge for tickets and you could make some money" I said let's try it and it's been really successful"

Everything you imagine about Galloway rings true when you meet him in the flesh. The all year round tan is in place, his suit is tailor-made yet understated, but most of all it's when he speaks that you immediately warm to him. Despite the seriousness of the issue's he tackles daily he realises that politicians need to connect with their constituents and in these modern times they still need an element of entertainment

"I think people want a laugh for their money. The tour was not just a soapbox where you get people's attention for a few minutes. They certainly won't put money in your hat. You've got to leave people thinking that they were entertained

It's a bit like being a footballer and playing at Old Trafford. You have to have a basic ability and the rest is experience. If you make as many speeches as me you know what works, what makes people laugh, what images and what visions are necessary to conjure up the picture you want to paint. And the more you do it, the better you get at it really

When I'm on stage it's all off the cuff, but I'm speaking about these issues every day. It's not just the speeches, I've done 8 interviews today starting at 8 this morning with Sky News and ending up this evening with you. This means you're constantly practising what you're saying, even though you're not consciously practising, so the pictures that you want to paint are always at your fingertips."

On why his fellow politicians do not connect with the public he's clear

"Most of them are liars. I think that's the real principle problem. We've got a political culture based on deception. As I shall say tonight, "2 Labour MPs on the debate on ID Cards said "Well if this a free vote tonight this ID Card bill would be defeated" - that means that members of parliament are going to vote for something they don't believe in because somebody told them to. What kind of parliament is that? And what kind of MP votes for something they don't agree with because somebody told them to? That's how we got in this mess. People elect a parliament aught to be entitled to expect the parliament they elect to honestly tell them what they think and honestly act on the beliefs that they genuinely have or we end up in the mess that we are in as we have over the War in Iraq.

I dare say that the point that these 2 men made over the ID Cards, I dare say that the people who voted for the war would now say "We knew it was a bad idea". So what, 100000 people are dead because you voted for something that somebody told you to even though you knew it was wrong. That's not any kind of parliament that people deserve"

Despite his reputation as enfant terrible of British Politics the reality behind the press releases and pager speak of Blair's Labour paint's a very different picture than you may imagine

"When I spoke on the 7th July, 2 or 3 hours after the bombings, one of which was in my constituency and I'd actually been to the railway station to see the emergency workers clearing up the bodies and been to hospital and seen the medical workers covered in blood. I went straight to the commons and made a speech and said, "This is a crime of mass murder. The primary responsibility lies with the criminals who did it, but it cannot be separated from the War on Iraq and the Blair's foreign policy generally". The response was ferocious, but afterwards a large number of MPs said to me that actually they agreed with that, but they didn't say so. 10 days later when the opinion polls said that 85% of people agreed with me then they started saying that. So we have a parliament with poodles with pagers, who get told what to say and what not to say and how to vote or how not to vote. If they booked a telephone box and put on a show like this, no one would come"

Previously describing Britain's relationship with America as "the kind of special relationship that Ms Lewinsky had with the former president...unequal, unedifying, undignified and with one party constantly on their knees", on his recent tour of America he found this shift in public consciousness had started to align with the issues he was talking about prior to the War in Iraq

"It's almost miraculous that America has found it's way through the fog of war propaganda, disinformation, Fox News and American Media which is obsessed by the local, especially in this Hurricane Era. American News not is basically just a big weather report, yet despite that American people have found their way to the truth. 58% of them want to withdraw the forces now, 64% say that the war was a mistake and 80% say that America cannot win the war. This is almost unbelievable

If you would have told me 2 ½ years ago that you will go to America and speak to millions of people on TV, Radio, public meetings and demonstrations and yours will be the majority position, I would have said you were insane, but that is exactly what has happened. Actually the main reason for that are the American dead. It's a pity that the 100,000 Iraqi dead didn't do it, but the 2000 American dead is beginning to do it. Everyone of those 2000 dead is a local disaster story and because American News is all local if you get 4 dead and 7 seriously wounded guys in Milwaukee coming back in coffins or in wheel chairs it makes a big impact in Milwaukee. There's an aggregation of all these local stories. It's a bit like the Tom Cruise film Born On The Fourth Of July, each soldier who comes back in a wheelchair or comes back in a coffin is another nail in the political coffin of George W Bush.

In America in the 60s and 70s, America put up with 58,000 dead soldiers in Vietnam, but that's before was as 24/7 as it is now. The tolerance of the American people for casualties is much less today than it was then. They won't wait for 58,000 dead, as they are already up in arms about the 2000 dead"

His tone changes from one of confidence to a quivering choking kind as he acknowledges, "We've won the battle for public opinion, but the politicians are unmoved. While were there British Men are doomed to on dying, American Men are doomed to go on dying and Iraqi's are doomed to go on dying. How do we change that? I don't quite know". It's the first time during our conversation that Galloway acknowledges he doesn't have all the answers and the man who's confidence usually brims over to what the public sometimes see as arrogance is genuinely affected by the political climate.

For all the furore over his entrance into the Big Brother House Galloway is a political figure who has reached out to a wide group of people through a series of face to face meetings across the whole country

"Respect is the fasted growing political organisation in Britain, it has the busiest political website in Britain, I've been on the theatre tour and at the same time I did a parallel tour of universities for Fresher's week. It was aimed the new students turning up at university and for them because we're building something for them called Youth Respect, which is going fantastically well. We've got a Student supplement that got handed out over the 15-20 universities' I've spoke at in the past 2 months. I'll keep going on as long as my voice holds out"

Minister for London Jim Fitzpatrick condemned his move go the show, "I am not to surprised about it as he is a C-List politician with a A-List ego" but with ratings for the show peaking at 7.6million when Galloway entered the house it's nothing more than a chink in his armour. After all how many politicians have reached out with their policies to a mass audience such as this.

WORDS: Alex McCann
Photos: Karen McBride -

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