Respect has launched its campaign for the local elections, running candidates in every ward in Newham and Tower Hamlets.
Almost immediately after ousting Oona King from Bethnal Green & Bow, George Galloway announced that taking control of these two boroughs was Respect's top electoral priority. There has never been any reason not to take him at his word.
Galloway is too often caricatured as a poltroon and twister when he is an extremely able, clever and calculating man; a libel QC manque who became Leader of Dundee City Council and Chairman of the Scottish Labour Party whilst still in his '20's.
Although he has long been a nationally prominent figure, Galloway has held no significant political power since leaving Dundee. The London Boroughs of Newham and Tower Hamlets
represent his best prospect of ever getting near it again, and would deliver into his hands, albeit indirectly, the sort of power that he actually knows how to wield.
Whatever his rationale for entering the 'Celebrity Big Brother' project was, the constant repetition of the images of him dressed as Dracula, or wearing a leotard, might not be as damaging as one might think (or wish). After all, who are his opposition?
Is the Labour Party going to perform an electoral miracle and sweep to power in boroughs full of Muslims angry with the war?
Are the Tories?
Are the post-Mark Oaten Lib Dems?
No, they're not. For all the defects of its leader, for a number of voters in Newham and Tower Hamlets Respect might just still be the only game in town.
And with a mega-cheque from 'Big Brother' in his pocket, Galloway might not be short of funds for this campaign.
Victory for Respect in these boroughs would be as disastrous for our democracy and society as any victory for the BNP elsewhere. Respect represents the rise of an Islamic Left, a concept
utterly alien to our traditions.
And if they win, it would be a victory for those who would build Al-Quds in England's green and pleasant land.