Respect Party leader George Galloway has announced that he is to run for London Mayor in 2016 – saying that “the people in London who feel they have been forgotten by the mainstream political class will find a voice in me”.
The anti-Israel firebrand politician had told Sky News of his intention to enter the race to replace Boris Johnson should his re-election attempt in his parliamentary constituency of Bradford West be unsuccessful, and announced his candidacy via Twitter this afternoon.
Speaking last month, he said: “I won’t run for London Mayor if I am re-elected on 7 May. If I am not re-elected I will run. It’s as clear an answer as I can possibly give up”.
In the event, Mr. Galloway’s majority of over 10,000 was overturned by Labour candidate Nas Shah, and he is since said to have pursued legal action to have the result quashed.
The politician, who was expelled from the Labour Party in 2003, told LBC Radio that he hopes to emulate the success of anti-austerity politicians on the continent – such as Greece’s Syriza and Spain’s Podemos, who now hold the mayoralties of Barcelona and Madrid.
He said that his 30 years’ experience of living in the capital had given him a “keen understanding of London’s plurality” which would enable him to reach out to those “left behind by the drift to the centre”.
He added: “People running from outside the mainstream garner a lot of support. There is a tide in the affairs of this country seeking independent minded, larger than life characters for these positions”.
His campaign will not be limited to his bid for the £143,911-a-year top job at City Hall, as Respect will run a “full slate of candidates” for the London Assembly and hope “to establish a substantial foothold in the capital”.
Galloway’s tweet – which he described as a “soft launch” – was his first indication of a mayoral run since he signed off his election night concession speech – in which he claimed that “the vile, the racists and the Zionists will be celebrating” – with the admission that he was “off to plan my next campaign”.
Mr. Galloway served a five-year stint as MP for the East End constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow between 2005 and 2010, and had been linked with a bid for the vacant Tower Hamlets mayoralty. He was later unsuccessful in a 2011 run for election to the devolved parliament in his native Scotland.
He enters a crowded field of big-name candidates, especially on the left – but dismisses his competition as “pretty dull”.
Labour grandees Tessa Jowell, Sadiq Khan, Diane Abbott, and David Lammy have all announced their intention to run, with Richmond Park MP and backbench rebel Zac Goldsmith the rumoured frontrunner for the Tory nomination.
When asked whom he feared most out of potential rivals and current favourites Jowell and Khan, Galloway said: “I don’t fear either of them”.
“I’m in it to win it and if I don’t win it it will be the mother of all campaigns.”
Bookmakers Ladbrokes rank Galloway, who will launch Respect’s manifesto in the near future, as a 33/1 outsider.
George Galloway has just announced he’s standing for mayor of London. Sadly, cos he’s blocked half the electorate, we can’t tweet the news.
— Jay Rayner (@jayrayner1) May 28, 2015
— Hadley Freeman (@HadleyFreeman) May 28, 2015