Bradford councillor Ilyas Karmani, an Imam and therefor bound to tell the truth, has at least been honest in The Guardian report compiled by Helen Pidd the ‘special’ Respect Party correspondent.
“Respect for me was just a vehicle to get elected” he says in the article. “Whether we continue to work with that vehicle is open to review”.
Honest, but breathtaking.
Karmani and the other councillors were all elected just five weeks after my by-election win in the city. None had ever been elected to anything before, none but Karmani was a legend outside his own street.
All were elected with a description on their ballot paper saying thus; The Respect Party (George Galloway). It can scarcely be doubted that they were elected on my coat tails. But that didn’t stop them stabbing me in the back. And almost as soon as the ink was dry on their party membership cards.
On the eve of the appearance in a central London Magistrates Court by my former secretary and her boyfriend, the head of the Muslim Contact Unit at Scotland Yard, a leading figure in the Anti-Terrorism Squad, the Bradford councillors group has struck through the Guardian. It is a diversionary tactic but it will not work.
My former secretary, Aisha Ali Khan, and the boyfriend Detective Inspector Afiz Khan stand accused of sundry offences against the public, and the Respect Party. Justice will take its course.
One thing is for sure, those councillors who have openly connived with the Khans in destabilising the party in Bradford have a lot to answer for.
As a matter of honour of course, people elected under one set of colours who defect to another set, should answer firstly to their electorate. After all, none of them would have won if their “vehicle” hadn’t been Respect. Honour of course will not be served on this occasion. These defectors have stated their intention to continue to sit on the council – and pick up £13.000 per year for doing so – under false pretences.
Let me deal with the attacks all five have made upon me, their words improved, of course, by the Guardian’s Pidd.
“Where’s George?” they ask.
Well, here there and everywhere of course, just like I’ve always been.
One of the councillors is quoted in the Guardian as saying he “reads of my appearances, at the Edinburgh Festival, at Westminster, my Scottish tour….”
Let us disect this attack. Westminster is of course where I am duty bound to “appear”. Such a strange “allegation”, the MP who “appears” at Westminster. As a matter of fact, as the CCCTV proves, I appear at Westminster virtually every weekday. As the Order paper proves I brought more issues before the Westminster parliament in the last year than any other MP. My speeches and parliamentary questions proved to be big media events in the main. Not something you could say about most of my fellow parliamentarians. Why, in my latest one I was fulsomely praised by all sides of the house including the Tory minister for the way I had led the campaign to save the National Media Museum!
The Edinburgh Festival appearances, on a Friday and a Saturday afternoon in August, during the parliamentary reccess were attended by large crowds of interested people. Again, not something likely to be experienced by most of my parliamentary colleagues.
In any case, how could anyone complain about an MP appearing at the Edinburgh Festival speaking about political matters during his summer holidays?
As for the Scottish Tour complained of, well, that hasn’t even happened yet!
I am giving three speeches in Scotland, in Aberdeen, my home town Dundee, and my former parliamentary seat in Glasgow on the subject of the forthcoming Scottish Independence referendum. In those speeches I will be asking my compatriots to vote no in that referendum, not least because of the effect seperating Scotland from England will have on cities like Bradford, doomed to perpetual Tory rule.
The speeches will be held on days and at times I would otherwise be “appearing” in Westminster, not Bradford.
In any case, who can legitimately complain about a political leader speaking in Scotland ahead of a seismicly important referendum, because I “should be in Bradford”? What kind of parochial madness is this? Yet such is the guff carried in
the Guardian today.
I am in Bradford virtually every weekend. Most northern MPs are in their constituencies virtually every weekend (except the likes of Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg etc). Virtually none however can say they conduct a weekly constituency surgery, every Saturday morning and where the constituents are often queueing out the door. But I can.
I have a fully staffed full time constituency office, choked with staff from Bradford, plus interns, plus seconded political professionals, seasoned and trusted. No other constituency in the country has an operation remotely like it.
So, what’s all this really about?
The Khan/Khan of Scotland Yard case is live and so cannot be discussed. Suffice to say that on this, the truth will out. The wheels of justice grind exceeding slow, but they grind exceeding fine.
The proximate cause of this latest brouhaha however is about something much more prosaic. A ticket to contest a council seat in the forthcoming local elections next May.
If I had succumbed to the political blackmail of giving (I am the Respect Party’s Nominating Officer) the nomination for the Manningham Ward in Bradford West to a man these councillors demanded I should, then the Guardian piece would never have been written and neither would this response.
But I refused to do so. The man they wanted is an inconsequential obscurity except in this regard. At the time of my by-election victory he wasn’t even a member of Respect. He did absolutely nothing in my campaign. He waited until we won to join us. Unlike the nominee I did choose, who was, my chief by-election organiser.
Naturally, I have all the paper-work to prove this.
It is never wise to give in to blackmail. As Detective Inspector Khan might well have told us if he hadn’t been in the dock today, blackmailers always come back for more.
The last time I saw Imam Karmani ironically was in a mosque. In South London where he works much of the time. We were both speaking for the last British hostage in Guantanamo Bay, Shaker Amer. He proudly introduced me to his father. I didn’t ask him why he was in Tooting rather than Bradford (he usually is) because I was just proud he was doing good work. Oddly, he didn’t ask me either, presumably for the same reason. It was a night to remember. I’m not sure how proud his father will be if he ever reads of his son joining in this base and baseless attack upon me in the liberal house-journal though.
George Galloway MP