20. George Galloway: Controversial politician on Beirut, Palestine, Iraq with Saddam, Cuba with Fidel and the Constant Companionship of Bob Dylan. - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode 20
June 4 , 2018

20. George Galloway: Controversial politician on Beirut, Palestine, Iraq with Saddam, Cuba with Fidel and the Constant Companionship of Bob Dylan.

From humble beginnings in a slum tenement in the Scottish City of Dundee, George Galloway has risen to become one of the UK’s most well known and also most controversial politicians. His self-confessed radical views have seen him banned from Canada, arrested in the dead of night in Cairo, meeting with Saddam Hussein in Iraq, spending time with Fidel Castro in Cuba and on first name terms with Nelson Mandela, Benazir Bhutto and Yasser Arafat. The travels of Gorgeous George as he’s sometimes known are as fascinating, as intriguing as the man himself. 


On this episode we cover:


Banned from Canada

Arrested in Cairo

Deported from Egypt

Met Saddam Hussein in Iraq

Met Fidel Castro in Cuba

Been awarded two of Pakistan’s highest accolades


How a boy born in an attic in a slum tenement in the Irish quarter of Dundee

Sleeping in a drawer

Irish immigrants

The joy of a new council house  

From gangs to Chairman of the Scottish Labour Party age 26

How his politics have stayed true to his radical roots

His life-changing trip to Lebanon

Falling in love with the Arab world and the Palestinian cause

Becoming good friends with Yasser Arafat, then Palestinian president

The beauty of Beirut

Being attacked in the street and hospitalised

Where he has felt vulnerable

Travelling to Iraq to meet Saddam Hussein

The magical ancient civilisation of Iraq

Walking in Abraham’s shoes

What Saddam was like in person

Weapons of mass destruction

George Bush and Tony Blair

How Iraq is now destroyed as a country

Worshipping in the Catholic cathedral in Baghdad

His multiple trips to Syria

Assad and son

Saudi Arabia and the rumoured coup

Syria and Lebanon being one country

The lifestyle in Syria before the war

Maaloula people speaking – Aramaic the language of Jesus

Sunni Muslims, Al Quada and extremism

His love of Cuba

His many hours spent with Fidel Castro

Writing the ‘The Fidel Castro Handbook’

How Fidel ‘is the greatest man I ever met’

The Cuban Revolution

Che Guevara

Sitting watching TV with Fidel

Bill Clinton in a Malcolm X baseball cap

Fidel and Che Guevara’s time in New York in Harlem with Malcolm X

Khrushchev, Indira Ghandi

The pros and cons of Cuba

How Cuba’s name is ‘written in the stars’

The future for Cuba

Guantanamo’s agreement (or rather lack of it) with America

Anti Death row activist Clive Stafford Smith

Being water boarded

Michael Moore’s Sicko

Being made famous by The New York Post

Crossing the US

His great grandmother emigrating from New York to Dundee

The BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are

Getting banned from entering Canada due to his work on Palestine

Arrested in Cairo in the dead of night

Being subsequently deported

The overthrowing of Mubarak in the Egyptian revolution

Travelling to South Africa under Apartheid


Being attacked by a white apartheid policemen in the townships

Spending time with Nelson Mandela


Nelson Mandela’s fabulous aura

Mandela’s visit to Cuba

Hugo Chavez

Benazir Bhutto

Theresa May

Tony Benn

Winston Churchill

Margaret Thatcher’s attitude in cafes

John Major being the nicest prime minister he served under

How he thinks Trump will win again

Trump’s travel ban

How everyone should have control their own borders

Supporting Brexit

The wall with the Mexican border


Trump’s Muslim reception

Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia in the famine


Port Sudan

Visiting refugee camps

Witnessing people dying of starvation

Vimto being the nectar of the gods

Scottish journalist turned politician Brian Wilson

His love of Portugal

Sky News


Looking over the Atlantic Ocean

Preferring to stay closer to home

How we should all visit Dundee

The Victoria & Albert museum

Dundee’s transformation

The Scottish Highlands

Scotland’s midge problem

Why travel is so important

His parents’ first trips abroad

Florence, Venice and the ‘near abroad’

Travel opens your eyes and your mind


Having seen Bob Dylan live over 50 times

Bob Dylan’s Christian fundamentalist period

His favourite Bob Dylan song