Ken Livingstone's comments were made to East London Advertiser deputy editor Ted Jeory and reported below.

George Galloway welcomed the support from the mayor for his election. He is standing for the London-wide member section at the head of the Respect list.

Ken gives surprise hope to Galloway's Assembly bid

25 April 2008

By Ted Jeory

RESPECT MP George Galloway's election bid for the London Assembly received an unexpected boost today... from Labour Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Livingstone, who is himself running for a third term next Thursday, said Galloway would compare well to some of the "nonentities" currently sitting on the London Assembly.

"I would like to think we could work together and he'd form part of a broad coalition with the Greens and us against the Tories and Islamophobes," he said.

"George and I have had our differences in the past. But so have I and Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Yet we've been able to work with each other."

He was talking to the East London Advertiser today during a trip to the famous Brick Lane Jamme Masjid mosque for Friday lunchtime prayers.

Galloway has already called on his own supporters to vote for Livingstone for Mayor on May 1.

Livingstone said in response to a question about what he could expect in return: "He has taken a very correct line around the consequences for London if Boris Johnson is elected.

"We have so many non-entities who don't add to the Assembly's work and who don't turn up for meetings."

He added: "I think George would be better... if he's elected, that is."

Labour's London Assembly Member for City & East John Biggs, also standing for election, is a sworn enemy of Galloway.

But today he also called on voters to back the MP for Bethnal Green & Bow in his bid to get on the Assembly.

Biggs, who was sitting beside Livingstone on his visit to the Brick Lane mosque, said: "I'd much rather people vote for Galloway than the Tories.

"Didn't think I'd ever say that."

Left-wing stalwarts Galloway and Livingstone have a long history together.

Both have been outspoken critics of Israel and both have been kicked out of the Labour party.

But while the mayor was later readmitted, Galloway formed his own Respect party insisting "Labour had left him".

Galloway is hoping to win a seat in the 'proportional representation' section of next Thursday's ballot, but many observers believe his chances are slim.

Livingstone's encouragement came a day after the MP was embroiled in another skirmish on his election battle bus when a protester tried to climb aboard.

Galloway confronted the man who had been hurling insults.

Earlier this week, another office worker scored a direct hit on the MP's head with a rubber stress ball.