Chief Whip: Galloway's cat impressions made me cringe

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Indy Politics

The Government Chief Whip today launched a petition calling on Celebrity Big Brother contestant George Galloway to get back to work saying his latest TV antics had made her "cringe".

Hilary Armstrong, the Labour MP for North-West Durham, began the petition urging Mr Galloway to "respect his constituents, not his ego" in his Bethnal Green and Bow constituency in East London.

Last night the Respect MP was pretending to be a cat, purring and licking imaginary milk from the hands of actress Rula Lenska as he missed the vote in the Commons on the Crossrail project which affects his voters.

Ms Armstrong said: "It made me cringe.

"I'm absolutely bemused that he decided to do something where he is uncontactable by the people he represents or works for.

"Something serious could happen here today and no-one can contact him, he could not say or do anything - and that to me seems a bit strange for someone who is, and has wanted to be, a publicly-elected official.

"No-one can talk to him, they can watch him and this is not a very edifying experience but they, his constituents, cannot see him working for them, listening to them and representing them in parliament. They are beginning to ask where is he?"

She launched the petition this morning on a visit to the east London constituency.

The document, which will be presented to Mr Galloway, read: "We believe this egotistical action shows a shameful lack of respect for the people of this constituency.

"We call on him to represent and respect his constituents, not further his own ego, as he is by remaining totally out of touch in the Big Brother house."

Mr Galloway, 51, won the seat overturning a Labour majority in a bitter election battle last year on an anti-war ticket. He believes that being on the show may help him to reach a wider audience.

Mr Galloway's spokesman said earlier this week that the constituency office was open as normal.

John Biggs, a Labour London Assembly member, has been holding an alternative surgery for residents in Mr Galloway's absence. He said: "I think there is a real need for politicians to engage with people but I do not think that being on Big Brother or pretending to be a cat is the best way to achieve it.

"We have had a steady flow of people come to it not to complain about George but because they have issues they want addressed.

"Certainly around the streets of Tower Hamlets people are pissed off about his failure to represent them."

Tonight Mr Galloway is up for eviction alongside glamour model Jodie Marsh and singer Pete Burns.