George Galloway, the former Labour and Respect MP, has announced that he has signed a publishing deal for a series of children’s books about an “ethical pirate” who travels the high seas around Indonesia with his family.
Galloway posted on Twitter:
The publisher has not been announced, but Galloway told the Guardian the book would be released in English, Dutch and Indonesian later in the year.
Galloway married his fourth wife, Putri Gayatri Pertiwi, a Dutch-born anthropologist of Indonesian heritage, in 2012 and a few months ago expressed his joy on Twitter that he was to become a father for the fifth time.
He told the Guardian: “In a few weeks or days I’ll have five children under the age of 10 and I have four young grandchildren also, ranging between three and 14. I’ve read to them a very large number of children’s books, and all of them have been fascinated by pirates. And judging by the success of Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s not only children who are fascinated by them.
“The problem is that pirates are such poor role models, drinking rum and carousing with women, cutting people’s throats and making them walk the plank and so on. This is about an ethical pirate. A kind of Robin Hood of the high seas, who is a husband and father, and his family come pirating with him.”
The books, Galloway added, are set in the Spice islands, “now in Indonesia but once upon a time the richest place on the earth, and the site of much pirating”.
“The centre of the story is a very beautiful bay where my wife once worked called Ambon Bay, in what is now the Molucca islands. The book is set in a crossover period between Portuguese, British and Dutch colonial rule,” he said.
Galloway launched his own publishing company – Friction – in 2005, to publish “books that burn, books that cause controversy and get people talking”.
He is the author of I’m Not The Only One, the Fidel Castro Handbook and Mr Galloway Goes to Washington, but this is his first foray into children’s literature.
“I’ve already told my children and grandchildren these stories, they’re very excited, they like them very much. You don’t have to cut people’s throats to be a warrior.
“But writing for children is very difficult, it’s harder than writing for adults because you have to express what you want to say in language that will be understood by a 10-year-old. Luckily, I have lots of people I can practise on, to say, ‘Do you understand that phrase?’ and if they don’t they say, ‘What does that mean, daddy?’ You have to put yourself in a child’s shoes. It’s not child’s play writing for children.”
Galloway was the Labour MP for Glasgow Hillhead and later Glasgow Kelvin from 1987 to 2005 and a prominent opponent of the Iraq war.
He was expelled from Labour in 2003 for bringing the party into disrepute over allegations that he called on foreign troops to attack British soldiers in Iraq. He went on to become the Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow and then Bradford West, before losing his seat in the 2015 general election.
Last year, he was beaten into seventh place in the election for London mayor.
Around the same time, he issued a court apology and agreed to pay damages to his former assistant Aisha Ali-Khan over claims she had helped her former police officer husband run a dirty tricks operation against him and his Respect party.
But he has endeavoured outside of the political world. In 2006 he appeared in Celebrity Big Brother, during which he pretended to be a cat, crawled on all fours and feigned to lick cream from the actor Rula Lenska’s hands.
Other politicians who have written children’s books include Jeffrey Archer, who wrote Willy Visits the Square World, and Theodore Roosevelt, who wrote Hero Tales from American History. Barack Obama wrote Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, described by the publisher as “a moving tribute to 13 groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation”.