George Galloway's Respect Party deregisters, prompting speculation politician may rejoin Labour

Party established in response to Blairism in the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan wars

Siobhan Fenton
Sunday 21 August 2016 13:56 BST
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George Galloway talking to pro-Brexit campaigners in London earlier this year
George Galloway talking to pro-Brexit campaigners in London earlier this year (AFP/Getty)

George Galloway’s Respect Party has been formally deregistered, prompting speculation the politician may be about to rejoin Labour.

The Respect Party was founded in 2004 and grew out of the Stop the War Coalition established in the wake of the Iraq War and Afghanistan War as a pro-environment and anti-war socialist alternative to the Labour party.

The Electoral Commission now lists the party as “voluntarily deregistered”, stating it ceased to be a political party on 18 August.

Following his expulsion from the Labour Party in 2003 for his vocal opposition to the Iraq War and Tony Blair, Mr Galloway became a figurehead for the new party. He became MP for Bradford West in 2012 in a landslide vote that he dubbed “the Bradford Spring”.

However, he lost the seat in 2015 to Labour’s Naz Shah following a bitter battle dominated by personal attacks, including allegations he made that Ms Shah had lied about being coerced into a forced marriage. Ms Shah later described the election as a “sexist smear campaign” and “a horrible nightmare”.

The politician also became known for a number of controversies including when he appeared to state that having sex with an unconscious woman would be “bad sexual etiquette” but not rape. In 2015, his former parliamentary assistant Aisha Ali Khan reported him to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, accusing him of misusing parliamentary funds. Mr Galloway strongly denied the allegations, asserting that Ms Khan had a “vendetta” against him.

Mr Galloway stood in the recent London Mayoral election, coming seventh place with just 1.4 per cent of the vote.

The politician has been vocal in support of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn, posting supportive messages on social media channels backing the leader. Last summer during the 2015 Labour leadership election he said he would rejoin the party “pretty damn quick” if Mr Corbyn were elected to the position.

Following news of the Respect Party’s deregistration, speculation has been sparked that the move may indicate he could be about to rejoin Labour.

MP for Birmingham Yardley Jess Phillips tweeted: “The Labour Party does not belong to one man. Also I think most likely because Respect massively failed.”

Quoting comments attributed to Mr Galloway on sexual consent, she added: “Galloway or [Simon] Danczuk returning to Labour would tell me that women’s safety has no value in our Party any more.

“I for one would like to be asked for my consent before Galloway is inserted anywhere near anything I am part of.”

The Independent has approached Mr Galloway for comment.

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