This time, Galloway is standing for the Workers Party, and has wasted no time targeting the constituency’s sizeable Muslim vote. There are, though, some commentators who have also wasted no time - in passing severely adverse comment upon him. Former Panorama man John Sweeney is one of them, citing Galloway’s closeness to dictators.
Sweeney cites the Romania of the immediate post-Ceausescu period, when he first encountered Galloway. He also mentions Saddam Hussain, whom Galloway addressed in January 1994, telling The Great Man “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability, and I want you to know that we are with you, hatta al-nasr, hatta al-nasr, hatta al-Quds [until victory, until victory, until Jerusalem]”. But that was a long time ago.
So voters may give him a pass on that. What they may find more relevant is Galloway’s record as an MP, and especially his voting record, which is readily available on the They Work For You site. Here’s how he voted on Taxation and Employment.
“Voted against allowing employees to exchange some employment rights for shares in the company they work for” (4 absences out of 5 votes), “Voted against lower taxes on fuel for motor vehicles” (5 absences out of 6 votes), “Voted for a banker’s bonus tax” (7 absences out of 9), “Voted against higher taxes on plane tickets” (7 absences out of 8), “Voted for increasing the tax rate applied to income over £150,000” (8 absences out 10).
There was more. “Voted against raising the threshold at which people start to pay income tax” (11 absences out of 13 votes) and “Voted for higher taxes on alcoholic drinks” (8 absences out of 9). On a further seven categories of taxation vote, he did not vote at all.
On a further twenty-one categories in other areas, Galloway did not vote at all. So how does this compare with Naz Shah, who succeeded him at Bradford West, and Tracy Brabin, who he is looking to succeed at Batley and Spen?
They Work For You records Ms Shah as not having voted in a total of 14 categories. That’s just half the total of 28 categories in which Galloway cast no vote. Ms Brabin is recorded as having not voted in just ONE category. And as They Work For You has noted that all those MPs, and former MPs, mentioned did not vote in one or more category of votes, it has to be assumed that there were occasions where they could have done so.
It must be stressed at this point that Galloway’s Parliamentary voting record does not mean that he was not a diligent and hardworking constituency MP. It is, however, a subject on which he should be willing to put prospective voters’ minds at rest.
It is also a subject where other candidates might be expected to discuss, or even challenge him. The workers he would represent, after all, would be paying, were he to win.
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