Andrew Gimson – Sketch Writer Extraordinaire

Miriam Lord and Cathy Sheridan are not the only brilliant sketch writers.

Andrew Gimson in the Daily Telegraph is simply consistently stellar. There

is a twinkle in his eye and a skepticism in his uptake that is refreshing

and wonderful to read. Reading sketch writing is for me one of life’s real

pleasures. I simply love it. Some is deliciously naughty and the kneading

of language is wonderful to appreciate.

 If you want to read fabulous prose

look at Andrew Gimson on the Telegraph website. Nobody in any of the other

London papers comes near. I enjoy the craic even though I would NEVER vote

Tory. If you want to read incisive witty quotes just read Oscar Wilde.

General Election 2010 sketch: George Galloway in his element on campaign


Sketch: If there is one thing George Galloway cannot bear, it is to be

ignored, writes Andrew Gimson.

Published: 7:30AM BST 28 Apr 2010

George Galloway is a dangerously enjoyable politician. As we approached the

headquarters of Respect, the party he created when he fell out with Labour,

we warned ourselves not to be seduced by the oratory of the MP for Bethnal

Green and Bow, who is this time standing in the adjacent east London seat

of Limehouse and Poplar.

But gleaming in the sun outside his office stood a beautiful, red,

open-topped Routemaster bus. Like Boris Johnson, Mr Galloway knows that few

things raise the spirits so much as the chance to go for a ride on the top

deck of the finest bus ever to lumber through the streets of London.

There were going to be red and green balloons, tied to the rail round the

top of the bus. It is conceivable that Mr Galloway’s balloon will burst on

the night of May 6, leaving nothing but a shred of material on the

pavement. But how buoyant his campaign feels compared with those of the

prudent career politicians against whom he rebelled.

Mr Galloway arrived in a natty suit, smoking a cigar. According to Mr

Galloway, he has been wearing suits since the age of 15. We asked where

this one came from and he said it was from a shop called Retro.

So we were in the presence of a Retro politician: a man able to make an

unscrupulous appeal to our preference for old-fashioned clothes and

old-fashioned language.

To see whether Mr Galloway could also manage old-fashioned niceness, we put

it to him that Jim Fitzpatrick, the Labour MP he is hoping to defeat, is “a

decent fellow”.

“Yes,” Mr Galloway replied. “Apart from the fact that he voted for a war

that killed a million people. It kind of invalidates any other qualities. I

want to punish the people who voted for the war, one by one if necessary.”

There you have Mr Galloway’s ruthlessness: for him, politics is a blood


He has developed an amusing fantasy in which Labour is three seats short of

being able to form a government, and only Respect can provide those three

seats: “We’re part of the Labour movement. We’re the ghosts of Labour’s

past. We stand up for the things they used to stand up for.”

In a hung parliament, Mr Galloway’s gifts might come into their own: he is,

as the late, great Frank Johnson said, “a tremendous parliamentarian”. Many

Labour MPs loathe the renegade so much that they would doubtless prefer

David Cameron to win an outright majority.

The bus rumbled into life and set off down Commercial Street past

Hawksmoor’s great church. Mr Galloway stood at the front and addressed the

passers-by: “No more war. Bring the Army home. Spend the money here. That’s

what we say. How about you? George Galloway a big voice for the East End. A

big voice that can’t be ignored. A big voice that will speak up for you.”

Some passers-by managed to show the traditional British impassivity in the

face of any phenomenon which might prove embarrassing, and some made rude

gestures. But many others burst out laughing: Mr Galloway was doing what a

good politician should, and was cheering them up. Children loved the sight

of the bus and Mr Galloway was in his element, for if there is one thing he

cannot bear, it is to be ignored.