- By Shirin Farahmand
Which potential outcome of the mayoral election do we think would please Jeremy Corbyn most? A victory for the Respect party candidate, George Galloway, fellow anti-war champion and much loved public figure or a victory for fellow Labour Party candidate Sadiq Khan?
Galloway’s rose to notoriety and won over the hearts and morals of the masses as a former Labour MP who was expelled from the party in 2003 for openly opposing then Prime Minister, Blair, over the illegal invasion and destruction of Iraq, an illegal war filled with war crimes that saw the death of over 1 million innocent civilians. The newly labelled insubordinate called Blair a liar and retaliated by winning the London East End parliamentary seat of Bethnal Green and Bow in the 2005 general election for the newly-formed Respect Party after a bitter battle with Labour’s Oona King.
Since then, Galloway has contested several different Labour-held seats with varying success, handsomely winning a by-election in Bradford West at his former party’s expense. Defending that prize at this year’s general election, Galloway accused his Labour opponent Naz Shah of, among other things, lying about the age she’d been when pressured into marrying a cousin in Pakistan. He lost the seat to Labour but soon confirmed his intention to contest next May’s London mayoral race.
That was before anyone dreamed that Jeremy Corbyn would, on 12 September, succeed Ed Miliband as Labour leader and, in so doing, create a whole new setting in which the mayoral battle will unfold. When Galloway was a Labour MP, he and Corbyn were fellow left-leaning anti-war peace advocates, the rare diamond of morality in a party now infamous with death and war.
By the end of July 2015, when a Corbyn led Labour Party had become a stunningly realistic possibility, Galloway declared to LBC’s Iain Dale his enthusiasm for re-joining the Labour fold, a declaration that threw many on to their back foot. (Read More…)
Galloway has however, shown more personal loyalty than party loyalty, expressing his pleasure in Corbyn’s triumph and accompanying disclosure about his closeness to the Corbyn camp. These claims of intimacy scaled a new peak over the weekend when the Sunday Times reported him describing Seumas Milne, as his “closest friend” with whom he has “spoken almost daily for 30 years.” Galloway has, however supportive of Corbyn, shown that disagreement with the Labour Party as a party has not simply vanished, throwing cutting blows to the Khan campaign. Calling him out as a “flip-flop merchant”, a “product of the Blairite machine”, an accomplice in Blair/Brown “crimes and blunders” who “went into what can only be described as a swoon over kissing the queen’s hand.”
Khan, who describes himself as Muslim, faced public criticism for holding the Qur’an in his left hand when he met the monarch, something Galloway said “wasn’t missed by people who care about these things”. Galloway also taken issue with Khan’s criticisms of Corbyn’s economic policies, saying, “I know that it hasn’t been popular in Corbyn’s circle” . George Galloway is reported by New Statesman as being Muslim, whilst the Guardian quote him as refuting this, basing his moral objection to war on common morals rather than religious morals.
During the public meeting mentioned in the linked article above, in Walthamstow, E17. Dave Hill from the Guardian spoke with Galloway regarding his views on whether or not running against Khan is hindering Corbyn, “Sadiq Khan supports Jeremy Corbyn like the rope supports the hanging man,” said Galloway, winning a raucous of laughter among the couple of hundred people present, including The International‘s two undercover reporters. The crowd itself, very diverse ethnically and in terms of age range. Galloway pointed out that Khan had nominated Corbyn for the Labour leadership race yet hadn’t voted for him, and then, after Corbyn had won, “gave a series of interviews in the Mail on Sunday, in which he denounced Jeremy Corbyn in the most withering terms.”
So for the voters whom like the Corbyn model but perhaps not all of Labour‘s divided offerings, who should they vote for?
“If you’re looking for a Corbyn in this election, it’s me. It’s not Sadiq Khan. I support all of Jeremy Corbyn’s policies. I might put them a little differently. If you don’t mind me saying so, I might put them a little better. But I support them. Sadiq Khan opposes them and makes no bones about doing so. So if I was Jeremy, I’d want me to win.”
The feeling on the ground, not just on the ground in Wlathamstow, but on the streets, in the homes and offices of London is very much a feeling that 2016 might just be Galloway‘s year, a year in which Londoners give a champion of peace and morality a chance, a year for change. Are we saying Galloway is the odds on favourite to win? No, but we are saying that he stands a jolly good chance with many arguing that he stands for true Labour values, values the party long forgot.
In short, if you are a fan of Labour‘s Corbyn, you are likely to find yourself seriously contemplating a vote for the Respect Party‘s George Galloway.