I’m no fan of George Galloway, but the decision of Livingston Council to cancel his ‘Just Say Naw’ pro-union roadshow does seem, on the face of it, unreasonable.
The Bradford West MP has been in talks with QC Donald Findlay to move to reverse the local authority’s decision after being told his “Just Say Naw” rally was in breach of Local Government Act rules on hosting “party political activities”.
Mr Galloway claims the snub is “politically motivated” and because his planned performance at Howden Park Centre in Livingston was in the role as a private citizen and therefore did not breach government rules.
This is the Government Act in question.
Prohibition of political publicity.
(1)A local authority shall not publish any material which, in whole or in part, appears to be designed to affect public support for a political party.
[F1(2)In determining whether material falls within the prohibition regard shall be had to the content and style of the material, the time and other circumstances of publication and the likely effect on those to whom it is directed and, in particular, to the following matters—
(a)whether the material refers to a political party or to persons identified with a political party or promotes or opposes a point of view on a question of political controversy which is identifiable as the view of one political party and not of another;
(b)where the material is part of a campaign, the effect which the campaign appears to be designed to achieve.]
(3)A local authority shall not give financial or other assistance to a person for the publication of material which the authority are prohibited by this section from publishing themselves.
Does hosting a show count as ‘publishing’? And – although Galloway himself is of course a member of a political party – is his show party political precisely? People with a range of views share Galloway’s position on independence, including a good many SNP supporters.