Page 3 Profile: Salma Yaqoob, Politician


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The Independent Online

The leader of the Respect Party?

Not any more. She's handed in her resignation with "deep regret", blaming a breakdown in "relations of trust and collaborative working". The past few weeks, she said, had been "extremely difficult for everyone in the party".

So she's blaming Galloway?

While George Galloway, Respect MP for Bradford West, isn't explicitly mentioned in the statement, his comments about rape with regard to the Julian Assange extradition case have certainly caused tensions within the party. He described the sexual-assault allegations against the WikiLeaks founder as no more than "bad sexual etiquette". Although Galloway later said he believed all non-consensual sex is rape, Yaqoob denounced the remarks as "deeply disappointing and wrong". Earlier this month, Kate Hudson, standing for Respect in the Manchester Central by-election, pulled out, saying she could not "in all conscience, stand as a candidate for a party whose only MP has made unacceptable and un-retracted statements about the nature of rape".

Where does this leave the party?

In a bit of a pickle. National secretary Chris Chilvers said Respect was "very sorry" to see Yaqoob leave. But party officials will have a difficult job replacing her.

What does the future hold for her?

She's clearly electable, finishing ahead of Liberal Democrat and Conservative candidates at the Birmingham Hall Green seat in the 2010 general election. She also has a powerful story behind her: she became involved in politics in the wake of 9/11 after being spat at in the street. There are rumblings she could switch to Labour, but supporters may find her description of London's 7/7 bombings as a "reprisal attack" hard to stomach.