Galloway Would Use Mayoral Post to Rally For Palestine

George Galloway in Bradford West

The controversial left-winger George Galloway yesterday said he is running for Mayor of London for two reasons – first to rally support for Palestine and secondly to speak for the majority of ordinary Londoners that are not “dripping in gold.”

The Respect Party leader, who lost his parliamentary seat to Labour in last month’s general election, was being interviewed on the BBC by Andrew Neil in the week that he announced his candidacy for Mayor of London via Twitter. He was asked if he would call for London to become an “Israel-free zone” as he did for Bradford when he was one of the three MPs representing that city. Galloway conceded that the policy was never actually implementable but that he would use the office of mayor to promote his “moral position” on the subject, saying:

“It would certainly be my aim to encourage the huge swell of pro-Palestinian support in London. I think Palestine has more supporters in London than anywhere else in the country. But the mayor is not the Pope and the mayor is not the president and he is not the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary,

“Of course, it’s unimplementable. It is a moral position and my moral position on Palestine is well known.”

Galloway said that there is a great groundswell of support for him. Although he only launched his campaign informally last week, ahead of a major launch in June, he claimed to have amassed 20,000 supporters within three days. He said that his presence in the campaign makes prospective Labour Party candidates “extremely anxious” because of his appeal to traditional party supporters “of whom there are many millions in London.”

He did offer one scenario in which he will not stand for Mayor. If the Labour Party from which he was expelled in 2003 were to select his “long-time comrade” and Member of Parliament Diane Abbott to be their candidate he would step aside, but he predicted that would not happen and he would “certainly fight all the others that are in the race.”

Neill asked Galloway why he was choosing to stand in London when the city of his birth, Dundee, is now represented by the Scottish Nationalist Party he opposes. He replied that even though he was from Dundee and had been a Labour MP in Glasgow he had strong connections to London, having lived there for 35 years, adding “my children were born and go to school here. I have a right put my hat in the ring.”

In a characteristically grandiose gesture he compared his decision to stand in London to that of one of Britain’s greatest parliamentarians:

“Mr Churchill was from London and he was the MP in Dundee. If it’s good enough for him that way, it’s good enough for me.”


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