Former MP George Galloway is making a comeback to politics by running in the highly-contested Manchester Gorton by-election.
Galloway, originally a Labour MP before setting up his own party, Respect, announced on Tuesday he will stand as an independent at the election which is likely to be held on May 4.
Writing for Westmonster, Galloway said Labour’s “All-Asian short-list” for the seat is “just not good enough for the people of Gorton,” which he says is “one of the most deprived constituencies in Britain.”
“The short-listing, which excluded many better candidates, is the latest in a long line of insults delivered by mainstream parties to local communities.”
On Monday night, Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee narrowed its choice down to Afzal Khan, Luthfur Rahman, Amina Lone, Yasmin Dar and Nasrin Ali. Its candidate will be chosen on Wednesday.
Galloway says he has decided to seek election in Gorton because of his admiration for its late MP, Sir Gerald Kaufman, who represented the constituency from 1983.
“I want to continue his work on international issues – which are particularly important in Gorton – especially the issues of Palestine and Kashmir, but also the broader questions, the dangerous confrontation between the West and the Muslim world which threatens all of us.”
He says Labour is “divided” and an “ineffective opposition still busy fighting each other.” He says if he is not elected, there will be no change for Gorton and it will remain “the same most deprived 10 percent of constituencies in our country.”
“There is a danger that the people of Gorton will never be heard from at Westminster again.”
Galloway went on to compare himself to a string of football stars who were not native to Manchester, but had been welcomed to the city.
“It’s true I’m not a local but then neither was Sir Matt Busby. Neither was Sir Alex Ferguson nor Pep Guardiola nor Jose Mourinho. Like them I want to work for you, for Gorton, for Manchester.
“I am like Sir Matt a Scot of Irish background. There are plenty of us around Manchester. My 40 year relationship with Pakistan and Bangladesh my 40 years with the Arabs mean I can speak the language. I can talk the talk but I also walk the walk.”
Galloway says he will write a regular by-election diary for Westmonster, a blog site set up by UKIP donor Arron Banks.
“Whether it’s my speeches in Parliament or on the streets, my films, my TV shows, my radio shows, my work on social media where I have over a million followers, when I’m fighting for Gorton everyone will know about it. Everyone will have to listen.”
Gorton is seen as one of Labour’s safest seats, with the party having a majority of almost 25,000.
The Lib Dems are seen as the main challengers to the seat and will hope Galloway’s entrance to the race could split the Labour vote.