If a week is a long time in politics, it’s an age for George Galloway. Last Thursday, he was standing for the Scottish parliament under the banner of a party calling itself All for Unity. It commanded a princely 0.9 per cent of the vote Scotland-wide, suggesting the word ‘All’ was doing some heavy-lifting. Before Holyrood had even gathered to swear in its latest crop of MSPs, Galloway announced his Workers party GB would be standing in the forthcoming Batley and Spen by-election.
During the Holyrood campaign, list candidate Galloway declared he would be giving his constituency vote to the Conservatives, prompting some to remark that ‘Gorgeous George’ had travelled far from his roots as a left-wing firebrand. Galloway, on the left and on the move, has made quite the political journey over the years.
In 1987, he won Glasgow Hillhead for Labour and held its successor Glasgow Kelvin until the 2005 election, when he switched to Bethnal Green and Bow under the banner of his new Respect party. After a spell there, he crossed over into neighbouring Poplar and Limehouse in time for the 2010 election. Alas, it was not to be this time and he finished third behind the Tories. The following year provided a change of scenery and a return north of Hadrian's Wall for the Scottish parliament elections. Things didn’t go well here either, with Galloway failing to win a seat in Glasgow.
Undeterred, he headed back down the M6 to West Yorkshire, for a 2012 by-election caused by the incumbent’s health-related resignation. Fortune favoured our intrepid journeyman on this occasion and the good burghers of Bradford West sent him back to Westminster. Democracy being the fickle business that it is, they changed their minds at the 2015 election and sent Galloway away on a new adventure. Soon enough, he was off to London like Dick Whittington (and, unlike Dick Whittington, he could be the cat too). The 2016 mayoral election was another disappointment though, with Galloway coming in seventh behind the Women’s Equality party and 0.2 per cent ahead of Britain First.
Not discouraged, the roving revolutionary pointed his electoral GPS northwards once more, arriving in Manchester Gorton to contest the 2017 election as an independent, only to place third. Two years later, he trekked southwards again, for the confusingly named West Bromwich East, where the 2019 election saw him come sixth and lose his deposit. He did at least finish 433 votes ahead of the Yeshua party, whose manifesto was the Ten Commandments.
It’s not yet clear whether our poor wayfaring stranger will be the candidate himself in the upcoming by-election. But Mr S believes in looking to the future so, rather than dwell on last week’s unfortunate outcome in Scotland, we wish Mr Galloway’s party well in Batley and Spen. And wherever comes next.