Brentwood School students were given one piece of advice by outspoken politician, author and journalist Mr George Galloway MP and it was: "Learn Chinese".
He told a packed meeting of the School’s academic society that China would be the biggest economy in the world. “I have given my children short names so the Chinese can pronounce them,” he said.
Mr Galloway covered a plethora of topics in his address to the Sir Antony Browne Society (SABS), a society for Sixth Form pupils which provides students with an opportunity for intellectual discussion and cultural interest.
He also took the opportunity to take a few political pot shots at Old Brentwood Mr Jack Straw, a political heavyweight and former Labour Foreign Secretary, who was a boarder at Brentwood from 1957 to 1964. He described Mr Straw, who held several top posts during the Blair and Brown governments, as Blair’s ‘liar-in-chief.’
Mr Galloway, who is the Respect Member of Parliament for Bradford West, is well known for his campaigns in support of the Palestinians in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and has been a leading critic of the British and American roles in the Iraq and Afghan wars.
He told students he was no longer a lone voice. He had hundreds and thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook and his views on Palestine and Iraq were now mainstream. “What has happened to the Palestinian people is a great injustice,” he said.
He blamed the British empire for many of the world’s ills. “Nobody gave us the job of policing the world. It is an empire mentality. We should stay out of other people’s affairs unless they materially or directly affect us.”
Turning to the troubles in Mali, Mr Galloway said Britain had joined the French and United States invasion of the west African country. “It does not solve the problem of Muslim extremism. It generates it,” he said. “We have no right to intervene. It is not our business.”
Rapt students fired several questions at Mr Galloway who was joined for the School visit by his wife Dutch-born consultant Putri Gayatri Pertiwi. He was thanked for attending by SABS President James Bowler.