George Galloway last night attacked his Labour opponent Naz Shah over whether she was 15 or 16 when she was raped. Somewhat makes Michael Fallon’s comments pale into insignificance…
George Galloway on the day’s events:
“Blair, dripping with blood, pockets stuffed with gold beyond dreams of avarice comes out fighting for New Labour. Could anything be worse?”
It’s all kicking off in Bradford West with local Labour Party internal ructions going very public. Newly appointed candidate Amina Ali tweeted that she had resigned, only to mysteriously delete the comment. Ever since Ali – who is of Somalian origin – was selected at the weekend, the local Labour Party on the ground have been in uproar. Having beaten off strong local choice Naveeda Ikram, many are questioning why, in a seat where ‘personal politics’ is so vital, a London Labour ally of Oona King has been forced upon them. The former BBC journalist is popular with the Shadow Cabinet, but the local party are baffled. “She not even Kashmiri, let alone Pakistani” says one source.
The local theory goes like this: George Galloway has softened his stance toward Labour of late, particularly on Question Time recently where he made a lot of conciliatory noises towards his old party. Having very loudly declared in 2013 that he was to run for Mayor of London, Galloway has gone very quiet on the subject. A local consensus has formed that some sort of deal has been done between Labour and the firebrand: if Galloway does not run against Labour in London and split the vote there, the party would give him an easy ride in Bradford. Unfortunately it seems the passions of the local Labour Party were not factored in, and the cunning plan has exploded.
UPDATE: Another Labour source adds further intrigue:
“Imran Hussein, deputy leader of the Labour group, still hasn’t got over being beaten by Galloway. He doesn’t want a female candidate or indeed any Labour candidate that can beat Galloway as then they will be in for life and block him from potentially trying again in next election. Therefore, his supporters backed the outsider on the basis that she would lose.”
George Galloway asks Hugo Rifkind for his view on the day’s events. He replies:
“Thanks for asking, George. I suppose I’d just say I salute my dad’s courage, strength and indefatigability. Hope this helps.”
Amjad Bashir has been accused of lying about his links to the Respect Party after evidence emerged tonight apparently disproving his claims to have never had anything to do with the party. Earlier today, George Galloway accused Bashir of being a member of Respect in 2012, claiming he was deselected as a council candidate for the party in Bradford. This allegation was denied by Bashir in a conversation with Tory party officials this afternoon, where he “denied he’s ever had anything to do with Respect… Amjad denies it”. Yet tonight the Respect Party claims to have unearthed an application form filled in by Bashir to join the party. In a statement to Guido, Respect alleges:
The UKIP MEP who jumped from Nigel Farage’s party to join the Conservatives is revealed as a liar about his political past.
Amjad Bashir denies that he has ever had anything to do with the Respect party but an application form he filled in and is still held by the party proves that isn’t the case. The new Conservative MEP gives his date of birth on the form as September 17, 1952. But he also claims on the form that in the 1970s and 1980s he was a Labour party member and helped the then Bradford West MP Marsha Singh (now deceased). He also claims to have been heavily involved, and led a membership drive in Bradford, for Imran Khan’s Pakistan party the PTI (Party of Justice).
For Labour Bashir claims: “I attended ward and regional meetings, I carried out door to door canvassing on election days…I also carried out telephone campaigns.”
Respect’s Bradford West MP George Galloway hit out: “Not only has this man not got a shred of principle, his acquaintance with the truth is distant to say the least. He joined Respect, now he’s lying about it. I don’t know if what he is saying about Labour and the PTI is correct but his denial that he joined Respect, was selected as a candidate and then de-selected, is a shameful and damning untruth. If the Tories are prepared to embrace this man then I think it says even more about them than it does him.”
Galloway would not reveal why the party had decided to drop Bashir. “But probably for the first time ever I have to agree with Nigel Farage that there are grave concerns about things in this guy’s past.”
He added that not only was the application form in the party’s hands but at least five witnesses, who were part of his interview panel, were prepared to confirm that he had joined the party and then been sacked as a council candidate for Bradford Moor.
The date of birth on the application form is Bashir’s date of birth. The Tories have been approached for comment as we go to pixel…
George Galloway says of his former Respect candidate the UKIP MEP turned Tory, Amjad Bashir…
“Clearly Bashir does not have any real political principles or commitment, only naked opportunism and self-interest. He represents the revolving door principle in politics. The Tories are welcome to him because he will cause them embarrassment. Fortunately Respect was able to act before he did it to us.”