Express & Star comment: Tom Watson’s George Galloway headache
Of all the challenges currently facing Tom Watson, coming up against George Galloway in a general election is one he would never have expected in a million years.
The Labour deputy leader is immersed in an increasingly bitter civil war with his party’s leadership on two fronts, namely his efforts to stop Brexit and to rid Labour of the scourge of anti-Semitism.
He’s also smack bang in the middle of a bitter row on home turf, with Sandwell’s Labour-run authority increasingly under the influence of allies of Jeremy Corbyn from head office.
But even by Sandwell’s wild standards, the appearance of Mr Galloway on the scene is an astonishing development.
Calling the firebrand Scotsman a divisive character is almost a comical understatement.
Mr Galloway was a major thorn in Tony Blair’s side 20 years ago, and the passage of time has hardly quenched his thirst for controversy.
This is the man, remember, who was thrown out of the Labour Party for encouraging British troops to defy orders during the Gulf War.
He has described anti-Semitism in the Labour Party as “a lie” and has made a career out of attacking Israel at every available opportunity.
For many, Mr Galloway is a repugnant character, a stain on Labour’s proud past who simply refuses to go away.
Yet if he is serious about standing against Mr Watson – and it is interesting to note he has no plans to move to the constituency – he will undoubtedly pose a real problem for the MP.
While the level of support Mr Galloway would get as an independent candidate is questionable, he remains a popular figure among sections of the hard-left.
His anti-EU stance could also attract voters put off by Mr Watson’s calls for a second referendum.
The Brexit Party is seemingly certain to field a candidate, so it seems plausible that Mr Watson will have a genuine battle on his hands to keep his seat.
What is certain is Mr Corbyn’s allies are mounting a concerted effort to make his life as difficult as possible.
With everything else currently on his plate, the emergence of Mr Galloway is a headache Mr Watson really could have done without.