Five Respect councillors resign in Bradford after George Galloway row

The five Respect councillors that resigned

George Galloway’s Respect party no longer has any councillors in Bradford after a row with the MP resulted in their resignations.

The five councillors, elected in an upsurge of local support for Respect during last year’s by-election victory for Galloway, temporarily resigned in August but have now officially left the party altogether.

Two were suspended after criticising Mr Galloway’s intentions to stand for the mayor of London, as he questioned their loyalty.

Respect described the councillors’ conduct as “unacceptable”.

London mayoral elections and “unwarranted” suspensions

The five councillors are Alyas Karmani, Ruqaya Collector, Faisal Khan, Ishtiaq Ahmed and Mohammed Shabbir.

In August, they criticised Mr Galloway, saying he should step down as an MP if he wanted to participate in the 2016 London mayoral election.

Bradford West MP George Galloway
Bradford West MP George Galloway

In response to their comments in a Guardian article, Mr Galloway accused the Respect councillors of “destabilising the party” and “conniving with the Khans”, in reference to his former aide Aisha Ali Khan and her police officer husband Det Insp Afiz Khan.

Mr Ahmed and Mr Shabbir were suspended by national party managers the same day.

In a collective statement issued on Friday, the five councillors said they had been in discussions with senior party members during the past two months to tackle their worries about the “unwarranted” suspensions, “defamatory” statements made about them and a “failure to develop transparent operations structures and procedures to enable the party to work effectively in Bradford”.

They said: “Regrettably, these discussions have failed to find common ground as senior Respect officials have shown a disregard to address our legitimate grievances and we have been unable to resolve our issues of difference.

“After much deliberation this has left our group no choice but to fully resign from the Respect party with immediate effect.”

Resignation

All five councillors said they would continue as independents for the remainder of their terms.

Respect stated that dialogue between party officials and the councillors had “foundered on the unacceptable conduct of the councillors”, who it accused of consistently criticising the party to the media and general public.

It said Mr Ahmed and Mr Shabir were dismissed by the party on Thursday, the same day the councillors said they notified officials of their resignation.

A Respect statement stated that the councillors’ appearance and influence in the council chamber “has been virtually non-existent”.

“If they had a shred of principle they would now resign their council seats and stand again in their new colours. Or will they instead continue to draw thousands of pounds of public money until they are removed by the voters?”

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