Exclusive: Now Galloway may stand as Bradford Mayor
GEORGE Galloway has said he may stand as mayor for Bradford should the city vote Yes in Thursday’s referendum.
The Bradford West MP, who only won the seat two months ago following a shock by-election victory, said his Respect Party are yet to short list candidates should the city chose a mayoral system.
He also said Bradford-born party leader Salma Yaqoob was a possible candidate.
Respect is hoping to take control of Bradford politics this year, there are 12 candidates standing in the council elections, and Mr Galloway is confident they will win enough seats to “hold the balance of power”.
Labour is currently one seat away from a majority, but faces a challenge from Respect in its inner city strongholds. Six of the seats being contested by Respect are currently held by Labour including leader Ian Greenwood’s Little Horton ward.
Bradford is one of four Yorkshire cities holding referenda on Thursday, with Leeds, Wakefield and Sheffield also going to the polls.
Mr Galloway said it is the city “with the most reason to vote Yes”.
“When there is no traffic on the road I was driven from Leeds to Bradford and it took eight minutes - these cities are eight minutes apart and yet they are a parallel universe,” he said. “You have two, big, historic urban centres and yet the disparity is incredible. There can be no better reason than for Bradford to vote Yes for a mayor.”
Mr Galloway said he may well stand - the rules do not preclude sitting MP’s from campaigning - however he did admit he would prefer to find a suitable alternative.
“Bradford West, the council, mayors and police commissioners make up our four part plan for 2012,” he said. “We are not saying that the mayor will be a Respect candidate, it is possible that we could support an independent.
“Salma Yaqoob is one possibility, and there are others within our ranks.
“An independent would have to qualify on several levels to get our support. They would have to be credible, and capable, of running a vast business, employing thousands of people and spending hundreds of millions of pounds of public money and controlling highly paid officials.
“They have to be able to do that, and see life as we see it, and such a person is obviously rare.
“I might stand myself - although at the moment my life is crowded enough.”
Mr Galloway said that a mayor was also needed because of the “gulf” between the majority of the public and politicians.
“The gulf between the people and the political class is vast. Many years ago when I was a child, 98 per cent of the people in this country voted Tory or Labour.
“That shrank as the Liberal Democrats grew, until around 80 per cent voted for the three main parties.
“Now it is around 46 per cent - and falling, it will drop even lower as people turn to us, the Greens and Ukip.
“Those are just the figures, down on the street in places like Bradford it is palpable. The affection in which the three parties are held has never been lower.
“Quite simply people do not trust them, they do not speak a language that people understand, and it will never recover.
“That is why a mayor needs to be a dynamic chief executive figure with political skill.
“It is the direction of travel for British politics, eventual autonomy for cities and power to their communities.”
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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