George Galloway launches Mayor of London campaign with pledge to seize empty houses

Tackling white collar crime, the housing crisis, and inequality are the candidate's priorities

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Indy Politics

Political maverick George Galloway has officially launched his campaign to be the next Mayor of London.

At a speech in the capital Mr Galloway said tackling the city’s housing crisis was his “number one priority” and that he would “build a city that benefits everyone, not just those dripping in gold”.

The Respect leader, who lost his Bradford West seat to Labour last month, pledged to use powers of compulsory purchase to seize homes that had been left vacant for a year without a “proper excuse”.

“House prices and backbreaking rents are driving people further and further to the edge of London, literally and metaphorically,” he told an audience at the Ethical Society in Holborn.

Other policies unveiled by Mr Galloway include cracking down on white collar crime in the City of London and an annual celebration of the Battle of Britain, which would involve “a mixture of fun and celebrity”.

Mr Galloway has a reputation as a formidable campaigner who has repeatedly snatched surprise victories from established parties in supposedly safe seats.

At the 2005 general election he won the seat of Bethnal Green and Bow from Labour, overturning a 19,000 vote stronghold and winning the seat.

In 2012 he seized another supposedly safe Labour seat, this time at the Bradford West by-election, with a 52.8 per cent swing from Labour.

 

Mr Galloway is no stranger to controversy, however. He was widely criticised for saying alleged sexual offences committed by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange amounted to no more than bad “sexual etiquette”.

He however later clarified that “No never means yes and non-consensual sex is rape”.

He has also expressed support or former Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman, who was barred from office for “corrupt practices”.

A 1994 visit to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein also raised eyebrows.

Mr Galloway was previously a Labour MP, elected at the 1987 general election.

He was expelled from the party in 2003 for telling the press that then prime minister Tony Blair had lied to British soldiers about the Iraq War.

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