The former MP George Galloway has started legal proceedings to contest the outcome of the election in Bradford West, after being unceremoniously dumped by the electorate.
The Respect Party leader lost to Labour rival Naz Shah with a vote deficit of more than 11,000, at the culmination of a bitter and dogged battle for supremacy. The at times vicious campaign was characterised by claims and counter claims between the two parties.
Ms Shah has described it as “the dirtiest campaign this democracy has ever seen,” and “a nightmare”, telling Sky news that she sometimes felt personally unsafe and intimidated during the campaign. Galloway’s supporters are accused of leaving a dead crow on her doorstep and smearing her reputation by making allegations over her past marriages in Pakistan; they deny any wrongdoing.
Conversely, Mr Galloway has accused Ms Shah of playing equally dirty and a spokesman for his campaign told the Independent “Shah has made it personal from the beginning.”
Although the ballot papers have been counted and the boxes put away, the battle is set to continue in the courts as both parties are taking legal advice.
Over the weekend Galloway tweeted that he was seeking to have the results of the Bradford West election “set aside”. Conceeding defeat at the count just hours earlier, he told reporters “I don’t begrudge the Labour members here their moment of celebration, of course.
“But there will be others who are already celebrating: the venal, the vile, the racists and the Zionists will all be celebrating. The hyena can bounce on the lion’s grave but it can never be a lion and in any case, I’m not in my grave. As a matter of fact, I’m going off now to plan the next campaign.”
We’ve begun legal proceedings seeking to have result of the Bfd West election set aside. I cannot therefor discuss my own election for now.
— George Galloway (@georgegalloway) May 10, 2015
Meanwhile, Ms Shah has told the Independent that she too is seeking legal advice over possible defamation and libel, which she believes may have contravened Electoral Commission rules and regulations.
“Right now it’s not my priority; I really want to get my office up and running. But yes, it’s something I will do. I don’t want anybody to experience what I went through. I think that was a travesty,” she said.
The result sees Galloway turfed out of the Commons just three years after he re-entered during a by-election in 2012. He was first elected to Parliament as a Labour member in 1997, but was later expelled by the Blair administration for four charges of bringing the party into disrepute. In 2005 he was successfully elected as the member for Bethnal Green and Bow under the Respect Banner, but missed out on re-entering parliament in the 2010 election, when he stood for the Poplar and Limehouse seat.