George Galloway hits back at criticisms over his support for the arts

George Galloway, has defended his record on supporting the arts while he was MP for Bethnal Green and Bow after criticisms from the woman who succeeded him, Rushanara Ali.

Mr Galloway, who served as MP in the area from 2005 to 2010 and is currently in Latikiya in Syria as part of a convoy attempting to deliver aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, said in a statement: “Rushanara Ali’s attack on my record on the arts is entirely gratuitous and unjustified.

“I have always been a supporter of the arts in all its forms.”

“I am, of course, wholly opposed to any cuts by this government which will simply ensure there is a further recession. “That is a more coherent position than that offered by New Labour and its mouthpieces like Rushanara who accept there must be cuts and argue merely about their timing.”

Speaking at a meeting of local arts groups yesterday at the Rich Mix arts centre in Bethnal Green Road, Ms Ali questioned the degree to which Mr Galloway publicly supported arts causes in the borough during his time as MP.

At the meeting, representatives of 25 Tower Hamlets arts groups regularly funded by Arts Council England, the national development agency for the arts, discussed how potential government funding cuts of up to 25% to the arts would affect them.

Mr Galloway is negotiating with officials to allow a London convoy, organised by the Viva Palestina group and others from Morocco and Algeria, to pass into Egypt before hoping to enter the Gaza Strip this weekend, according to his spokesperson.