Speech of George Galloway, M.P. 12 June 2005

George Galloway, Birmingham Sports Centre, Balsall Heath Road, Birmingham, 12 June 2005 Recorded and transcribed by Stephen Hewitt

[Editorial comments are in square brackets like this one. This is a partial transcript, being of the first part of his speech only. Audience applause is mentioned only where it interferes with transcription.]

[a few syllables unclear because of applause, probably foreign] chair, brothers and sisters comrades and friends [foreign syllables] peace be with you. You just heard from one of the most outstanding political figures and the most outstanding political woman to emerge from these islands for many years and I'm going to stress that point because it might be because you see her every day and hear her often that you are unaware of the sheer importance of salma yaqoob to this movement in this country and in many other countries [next words uncertain because of applause but sound like "across the world"].

What a pity she's not sitting next to me in the house of commons instead of that blank space called roger godsiff. I was surprised to hear an earlier speaker say that he's never in Birmingham. Well where is he then? Because he's never in the house of commons. We all thought he was in Birmingham and you in Birmingham all thought he was in the house of commons but if you consult the record you will see he's the most silent member that the British parliament has had in half a century. And your constituency is being misrepresented by roger godsiff while salma yaqoob and respect cut a majority of sixteen thousand down to three thousand and we allege that that three thousand is the product of electoral fraud. [approximately 8 seconds of speech inaudible because of applause - the first words sound like "And we're going to court"...]

It's not an outlandish idea in Birmingham is it? that there could be electoral fraud. After all this is the city which new labour has made infamous around the country in the words of the electoral court just a few months ago as running elections that would be a disgrace to a banana republic. Where new labour members and councillors were caught red-handed at the dead of night in a warehouse around the table with thousands of other people's ballot papers filling them in - that's new labour in Birmingham. And we say [words inaudible because of applause] So we can't be sure about the judges. You can never be sure of the judiciary - although they've been OK with me this last period - but if those judges agree with us and tell us that that result is invalid, null and void we promise new labour from this meeting here today the mother of all by-elections in this constituency [words inaudible because of applause]. If salma gets the chance to have a go again with the quiet man roger godsiff i promise you ten thousand supporters from all over this country will come into this constituency [words inaudible because of applause].

Even if we don't get the by-election new labour should know that things will never be the same again. Because we have changed - with that moral victory that salma described - the political landscape here forever. And when I'm gone and when salma yaqoob is old this little girl [words inaudible because of applause]. You see the credit to this community, the credit to Birmingham and the credit to the Muslim people of Birmingham that these two young women are that's what respect means respect means this meeting here today [words unclear because of applause] this is the respect coalition men and women, young and old, black and white Muslim and non-muslim christians and sikhs people of all backgrounds coming together as one hand to demand respect [words inaudible because of applause] this world in which we must live.

And even if we don't get a by-election we've got local council elections coming up next may and i tell you - i promise you - the top council officials, the leaders of new labour, of the liberal democrats and the conservatives in their right-wing coalition, their privatisation coalition, we're coming to get you next may. [words inaudible because of applause]. We're going to put some respect into the town hall in Birmingham and that means that we need to build respect as a party capable of fighting those elections that is going to turn every supporter into a member - and i warn you now that the next time i come to Birmingham there is a show of party cards and I'm the one who'll be asking to see them so don't think you can keep coming to these meetings as just a supporter. No, you must become a member. It's fifty pence a week and it's the best fifty pence you'll ever spend. [words unclear because of applause] Because we have to build an electoral machine here that will not be cheated. That's what we really lacked you see. The others have been cheating the people at election times for ages and we did not have the organisation to stop their theft. But we have to build an organisation strong enough and numerous enough to give the people the confidence that they don't have to hand over their votes to these crooks from new labour. There's nobody has a right to collect your postal ballot vote. Your vote is a secret ballot between you and god and the returning officer and nobody has the right to intervene between you and that ballot box. But we didn't have a big enough or strong enough political machine to give people the confidence that that was so. And we have eleven months to build it. And this meeting here today believe me there is no other party in Birmingham could dream of organising a public meeting like this. [George Galloway's speech continued, but this transcript does not.]

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