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Why the Left Should Be on Spoiler Alert for Galloway's Mayoral Campaign

04/05/2016 09:29

With friends like George Galloway, Corbyn doesn't need enemies. Despite describing himself as an old friend of the Labour leader, he has decided to make a nuisance of himself in these all-important local elections.

To prove his electoral credibility beyond the Labour ranks, Jeremy Corbyn needs a positive result this May. The 2015 election saw the big smoke swing to Labour whilst it already dominates the London Assembly. It should be an open goal.

With Boris Johnson's baffling allure out of the running, the Lib Dems diminished and Corbyn's Labour expected to eat into the Green Party's natural base, even the Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith described this as suicide mission. The polls are saying as much with his nasty campaign falling flat.

To add to this perfect storm, Labour's increased membership, especially in the capital, its better financial footing and the Labour candidate Sadiq Khan's impressive activist base means that the pressure is on Jeremy for a stomping victory. It's one, even despite the poor publicity for Labour recently, I'm glad to say I think he'll get. For all the Labour infighting recently, the Tories have equally been chewing each other up over Europe and the momentum is clearly behind Khan.

So why is George Galloway running for Mayor? He made it clear in an interview with London's Evening Standard that he considers this him versus Khan for the Centre-Left vote. This was evident at Hustings where George's fire appeared disproportionately aimed at Khan.

This is hardly the first time George Galloway has made life difficult for Labour having participated in a series of contentious electoral battles against the party. Yet this time he was willing to risk Corbyn's position as leader in order to keep the Galloway ego show on the road.

Does he pose a threat to the Labour Candidate? Not likely, polling between 0 and 2% he shouldn't be much of threat to anything other than this own deposit. Yet even the smallest split in the vote on the Left is a risk and Galloway has form when it comes to divisive politics. As the aforementioned interview reflects, he isn't afraid to bring the sincerity of an opponent's faith into question if it gives him leverage.

When every activist is needed and every vote counts, the solidarity of the Left becomes more important than ever. I suspect that many on the Hard Left will rally to Khan's cause knowing the consequences of failure for Corbyn.

Despite the creeping paranoia within Labour ranks, the support in London for Khan has been broad, from Blairite to Benite. Whatever your feelings about Jeremy Corbyn's suitability as leader, the risk of allowing Goldsmith's dirty, divisive and disgraceful campaign to get even the whiff of victory is too dangerous. London, frankly, deserves better than a repeat of the shambolic Boris administration.

It's no secret that Corbyn is short of friends in the Labour Party, which begs the question, who does Galloway think he is helping? Sadly I suspect it's himself.

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