RESPECT Weakened FurtherPosted: 17/08/2013 | |
The pitiful remnants of the RESPECT party became just a little weaker this week as all of the party’s councillors in Bradford were forced out of the group after a row with George Galloway (the RESPECT MP for Bradford West) over his intention to run for the post of Mayor of London in 2016.
What appears to have happened is that Galloway, who founded RESPECT but whose personal greed and publicity seeking is destroying the organisation, announced his intention to stand on Monday. This was promptly criticised by the five councillors, who told the Guardian that he should not be an MP for Bradford West when running for the highest elected post in Britain’s capital city over 200 miles to the south. A fair criticism, and one that should not result in expulsion from your party. Nevertheless, Galloway’s aides accused the group of trying to ‘sabotage’ RESPECT and claimed that they were driven by a ‘thirst for prominence’. That’s rather rich from somebody defending George Galloway, of all people.
I agree that and MP cannot legitimately claim to be representing their own constituents fully when they are seeking to represent eighty times as many people in a radically different part of the country. If Galloway wants to stand in London in 2016, then he should not contest the seat of Bradford West in 2015. The only reason that he is not doing so is that he knows he has no credible prospect of winning London, but nevertheless wants the media attention that will become focused on him. Particularly if Labour selects a Blairite candidate such as Tessa Jowell, there could be a chance he retains his deposit.
A large number of people who voted for Galloway in the 2012 by-election in Bradford West did so thinking that they were about to transform British politics. Since then, he has neglected his constituents: appointments and surgeries are virtually non-existant, correspondence does not get responded to, and on the rare occasions Galloway is active in Parliament the matter has nothing to do with Bradford West. In the meantime, he has forced the resignation of his party Leader and of the band of councillors in Bradford who were defending his record locally. The RESPECT party now has two councillors, one MP and a moribund party organisation. If they do not stand in London they will be wiped out entirely: the few hundred remaining members are rapidly migrating to Labour, the Greens or Left Unity UK. If this continues for a few more years then it will be impossible to muster a campaign to fight anything.
However, I would not view this as the protracted death of a political party. This is the death of George Galloway’s political career: he created RESPECT as a vehicle for his personal advancement, and as his brand is toxified so is RESPECT. I think this is the time we can actually afford to write Galloway and Co off.
- Respect party councillors resign (bbc.co.uk)
- George Galloway urged to resign as MP if he wants to be London mayor (theguardian.com)
- Bradford’s Respect councillors resign from the party (newstatesman.com)
- Bradford councillors resign from Respect party (truelabour.wordpress.com)
- Councillors quit party in row over suspensions (yorkshirepost.co.uk)