George Galloway and Labour MEP Afzal Khan went head-to-head in a tense hustings debate during which both candidates posited themselves as the only candidate that could bring change to the area in the upcoming Parliamentary Election.
Things got personal during an animated debate in which Galloway attacked Khan’s claim that he was a friend of the recently deceased incumbent MP Gerald Kaufman and claimed he was more of an ally to the current Labour leadership than anyone on Khan’s team.
Galloway said: “Gerald Kaufman was my friend for 33 years. And trust me Afzal, you may call him your friend but he never called you his.
“He used to say to me- ‘Afzal Khan, over my dead body!’”
“If Labour win this seat at the general election on June 8th, absolutely nothing will change. Afzal Khan is Tom Watson’s man- I am Jeremy Corbyn’s.”
Despite the issue of Brexit looming large over the election as a whole, both candidates were keen to stick to local issues, with each of them pushing the need for greater investment in Gorton and vowing to cut poverty in the area.
Khan cited the lack of investment and infrastructure in Gorton as a key issue in the election, stating: “There is a real concern here about public services. Year after year Manchester council has seen over £300 million cut from their budget, that’s why there’s been such a reduction in public services.
“This is part of an ideological battle from the Tories and is not acceptable. We need good public services.”
Galloway cited recent figures from Save the Children that revealed that 43% of children living in the area were classed as living in poverty, and that three quarters of all families were considered to be low income.
He said: “The poverty of our children is the most important issue here. Poverty is the issue that will decide this election.”
— Afzal Khan (@Afzal4Gorton) April 22, 2017
The event was well attended by members of all local parties in the area, although questions were raised over the fact that the Conservative candidate chose not to make an appearance.
The date of the election was moved from its original date on May 4th to June 8th to co-incide with general election. Gorton has been considered an ‘ultra-safe’ Labour seat since 1934.