30/05/03 - News and city section
Galloway barred from Labour meeting
Rebel MP George Galloway, suspended by Labour over anti-war remarks in an Arab TV interview, has accused party chiefs of gagging him by barring him from a meeting in his constituency.
The meeting of the general committee of Mr Galloway's Glasgow Kelvin constituency takes place tonight, and had been due to hear Mr Galloway and discuss the implications of his suspension.
But the "bitterly disappointed" MP said that as he was on his way to Heathrow Airport to fly to Glasgow, the constituency party secretary received a letter saying he could not attend.
The letter, from Labour general secretary David Triesman, was posted second-class and said Mr Galloway was not entitled to attend Labour meetings because of his suspension, said the MP.
"On the day when the papers are full of the lies, forgeries, deceptions and dirty tricks employed to fool Britain into war, I was looking forward to explaining for the first time to my own party members the true nature of the campaign against me", he said.
He added that the meeting came in the run-up to candidate selection procedures for the new seat of Glasgow Central.
Mr Galloway's present seat is set to disappear under boundary changes, and the MP has declared his readiness to stand for the new seat as an independent if he is drummed out of Labour or barred from seeking selection as Labour's candidate.
The MP was suspended by Labour chiefs after remarks he reportedly made in TV interviews, including an interview with Abu Dhabi TV in which he described Tony Blair and George Bush as "wolves" attacking Iraq.
He said of the ban: "I think it's extraordinary, and the constituency party are disappointed too. The meeting will go ahead, and I think the members will be very angry about this."
He said the letter told him he was not entitled to attend Labour party meetings because of his suspension.