I have decided to enter the race to succeed my friend for thirty years, Sir Gerald Kaufman, as MP for Manchester Gorton.
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The “All-Asian short-list” hand-picked by Keith Vaz is just not good enough for the people of Gorton one of the most deprived constituencies in Britain. The short-listing, which excluded many better candidates, is the latest in a long line of insults delivered by mainstream parties to local communities. I will run as an Independent candidate and will write a regular by-election diary for Westmonster. This is my initial election statement.
I have a long connection with the Manchester area – two of my children live here – and with the Gorton constituency in particular. The late Sir Gerald Kaufman was a friend of mine for over 30 years. Our friendship began before I was an MP, continued throughout my near 30 years with him in Parliament and afterwards. His appearance on my television show was his last big interview and will stand the test of time.
Sir Gerald was a big figure in the House of Commons and was known far beyond it from Hollywood to Palestine and Kashmir. When he spoke people listened.
I have decided to seek election for Manchester Gorton in the forthcoming by-election precisely because of my admiration for its late MP and I hope to persuade voters of every background that I am the best person to try to fill his shoes.
I want to continue his work on international issues – which are particularly important in Gorton- especially the issues of Palestine and Kashmir but also the broader questions, the dangerous confrontation between the west and the Muslim world which threatens all of us.
I would like to be the big voice for Manchester Gorton it still needs. Manchester is great, world class. But Gorton can’t be left behind. Whether it’s jobs -proper jobs – wages public services the NHS and schools. The struggle for students has always been a parliamentary preoccupation of mine. I was a Labour MP when Tony Blair introduced tuition fees and I broke a 3 line whip to vote against them. I opposed Blair’s privatisation of the NHS too and warned on both that a future Tory government would only pile on the misery on top of New Labour’s foundation.
I opposed Tony Blair with all my heart and soul and paid for it with my expulsion from the party in 2003 – after 36 years membership.
This week is the 14th anniversary of the Iraq War against which I was one of the leaders of the greatest mass movements ever seen in this country. I make this plain here – if I am re-elected to Parliament I will seek to put Mr. Blair on trial for war crimes, crimes against humanity and lying to the British Parliament and people.
I think you already know that when I’m fighting for something everybody knows about it.
Whether it’s my speeches in Parliament or on the streets, my films, my TV shows, my radio shows, my work on social media where I have over a million followers, when I’m fighting for Gorton everyone will know about it. Everyone will have to listen.
I have been six times elected to Parliament and I don’t think even my worst enemy would deny my impact there.
Of course there will be other choices you might make. A thicket of councillors will put themselves forward. I am not a local councillor any more than Sir Gerald was. I am a parliamentarian as he was a parliamentarian. I will be heard if you elect me, on matters local national and international. On Brexit and Scottish nationalism, on war and peace on houses and Schools on work and unemployment on immigration on the commonwealth on roads and refuse. I will live here, I will work here, I will serve here.
It’s true I’m not local but then neither was Sir Matt Busby. Neither was Sir Alex Ferguson nor Pep Guardiola nor Jose Mourinho. Like them I want to work for you, for Gorton, for Manchester.
I am like Sir Matt a Scot of Irish background. There are plenty of us around Manchester. My 40 year relationship with Pakistan and Bangladesh my 40 years with the Arabs mean I can speak the language. I can talk the talk but I also walk the walk.
If I were to win here it would be the Mother of All by-election victories for “The hard working people of Gorton” who would never be forgotten again.
If I don’t, then the alternative will be a career politician, with NO change and no Development for Gorton. It will remain the same most deprived 10% of constituencies in our country.
We know that Labour is divided, an ineffective opposition still busy fighting each other, there is a danger that the people of Gorton will never be heard from at Westminster again. Don’t settle for ordinary. It’s been half a century since Gorton had an ordinary MP. You can make that change, Think big, Think George Galloway for Gorton.