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12 November 2015

Jeremy Corbyn does not want George Galloway to rejoin, says Labour MP Dawn Butler

The chair of the women's Parliamentary Labour Party also warns there would be an "almighty revolt" if the former MP returned. 

By George Eaton

Ever since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader the question of whether George Galloway could rejoin the party has been asked. The former Respect head, a Labour MP from 1987 until his expulsion in 2003, said in July that he would return “pretty damn quick” if Corbyn won. Speaking on Friday, Ken Livingstone commented: “If he wanted to come back in to the party, in order to support Jeremy Corbyn, and he’s prepared to abide by our rules, of course we should take him back.”

The issue was raised at Monday’s Parliamentary Labour Party meeting when Jess Phillips, speaking on behalf of Galloway’s successor in Bradford West, Naz Shah (who was unable to attend), said he should never be allowed to rejoin. Asked recently whether he had discussed returning with Corbyn, Galloway replied: “I wouldn’t go public with what my communication has been with him but we’re in touch through others. I’ve no doubt my point of view is heard.” 

Now, in an article for Progress, Dawn Butler, who nominated Corbyn for the Labour leadership (later voting for Andy Burnham), has gone public with her communication with the Labour leader. “I have spoken to Jeremy Corbyn and he has told me he is not in favour of letting Galloway back in,” she writes. Butler, the MP for Brent Central and the chair of the women’s Parliamentary Labour Party, warns there would be an “almighty revolt” if he was readmitted. She writes: “Galloway has an ugly track record in opposing Labour women. Talk to Naz Shah, the brilliant new member of parliament for Bradford West, who described Galloway’s election campaign as ‘misogynistic, vitriolic and very dangerous’. He questioned her revelation that she had been forced into marriage at the age of 15, totally missing the point that it was a forced marriage.”

Butler adds: “A little more insight into the man was revealed when Salma Yaqoob resigned as leader of Respect over Galloway’s podcast in which he explained, ‘Not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion. Some people believe that when you go to bed with somebody, take off your clothes, and have sex with them and then fall asleep, you’re already in the sex game with them.’ Kate Hudson, who had been planning to stand as Respect’s candidate in the Manchester Central by-election in 2012, pulled out of the contest following the remarks.”

She writes that it has been suggested that those arguing for his readmission “want to stop him standing in the London mayoral election” against Labour’s Sadiq Khan. But adds: “Galloway stood for the London assembly in 2008 and got two per cent of the vote. I think we should have faith in Sadiq, a candidate who personifies London in all its glorious diversity.”

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In an interview in July, Corbyn told the New Statesman: “No doubt George and I will come across each other somewhere . . . I thought the tactics he used against our candidate [Naz Shah] were appalling. I was quite shocked; it was appalling.”