By: Toby Gould, Student Voices editor
The headline is that all students, school, college and university, will travel free on London transport.
"All students, school, college and university, will travel free on London transport. The costs of being a student have escalated fantastically in the last 10 years, I voted against tuition fees in parliament at the time against a three line Labour whip and I said that they could only go up and up. I predicted that they could only go up to £10,000 and they almost are."
The costs of being a student are astronomic, of course they are more serious and severe in London than anywhere else
One of the main points I wanted to raise with Mr Galloway were the costs of being a student in London. If one thinks that being a student outside of the capital is economically strenuous, then inside London it appears to be worse. He agreed with me:
"The costs of being a student are astronomic, of course they are more serious and severe in London than anywhere else. So I'm hoping that this transport offer will make a significant contribution to the well-being and standard of living of students."
"There are other issues. There is the plan I have to work with the trade union Unite to make sure that service staff, waiters, waitresses, barmen and so on, keep their tips. It would become a legal offence for employers to [keep] the tips of these workers. Many of them are students and this would affect them in quite a significant way, I think."
After this point we went a little off topic. He wanted to emphasise his support for the living wage:
"My policy is that any company, any business, that isn't paying the London living wage (he later clarifies this as £9.40) will not be receiving any contracts and will not be doing any business with the mayoralty, with TFL (Transport for London), with any branch of the mayoralty."
This is all well and good, but I had to ask if he thought it is realistic that he could be voted the next London mayor. He said:
"I'm the third favourite in the bookies - 25/1. The Liberal Democrats are 100/1 and UKIP are 150/1, so it's a three horse race..." I wasn't quite sure about this, but after looking it up is does seem that Galloway is third favourite. Note that Sadiq Khan (Labour) is 8/11 while Zac Goldsmith (Conservative) is 11/10. I'm not entirely sure this constitutes a three horse race, but he does seem to be in third place at the moment. "... and in a three horse race, the third favourite sometimes wins, and this is a very different London to the London of black and white news reels. This is a London in which 53% of the people are from minority-ethnic communities. Where millions of Londoners live either in poverty or on the edge of poverty. Where there's a housing crisis, a transport crisis, a policing crisis and millions of Londoners are extremely dissatisfies with the mainstream political class. And if I can energise them to vote - if I can get the turnout up from 38%, which it was last time, I have a real chance to win."
He spoke of engaging voters. Presumably this included the young population of London - but as a lot of political support from students and young people has been directed at Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party, would this impact positively on Sadiq Khan's chances of become mayor and negatively on Galloway's? He didn't think so.
"The Labour candidate, just this very day, was attacking Jeremy Corbyn on the today programme on radio 4. [He's] doing everything he can to distance himself from Jeremy Corbyn. He's supporting Corbyn as the rope supports the hanging man, so anyone who's a Corbyn fan I think knows instinctively who the person closer to Corbyn is between me and Sadiq Khan."
He will be fighting either George Osborne, Teresa May or Boris Johnson, and my money will be on Corbyn in these circumstances.
Although a fan of Corbyn, Galloway hasn't been considering joining Labour anytime soon. Before that happens, "Labour must rescind the unjust expulsion of me [Mr Galloway] during the immediate aftermath of the Iraq war. And if they do that, that would create a new situation. But I have no intention of applying to join a party I shouldn't have been expelled form in the first place."
On whether he thinks the Labour party has changed since Corbyn came to power, Galoway said:
"It's changed in some ways and not in others. I think Jeremy's doing his best right at this moment as we speak to try and consolidate the change that we have seen (perhaps a reference to the Labour front bench reshuffle happening during the time of my phone call), but there's a rearguard, bitter rearguard action being fought by the Blairites in parliament in particular - the media as their echo-chamber."
And his views on whether Corbyn will become Prime Minister?
"He has every chance to, yes. He will be fighting either George Osborne, Teresa May or Boris Johnson, and my money will be on Corbyn in these circumstances."
Can Corbyn count on Galloway's support?
"Of course. He's been my comrade for 30 years".
We went back to talking about student issues again. He told me there will be a "London literary prize, a London poetry prize and there will be a prize for the best girl and best boy from London schools to be sponsored by the London mayor to go to university anywhere in the world. We'll pay their fees and a contribution to costs. State schools I should add".
He would also like to see the mayors office have more power:
"I'll be campaigning for devolution for London. I want London to have the same powers as Scotland and Wales and the so-called 'northern powerhouse' have, and that means a role in education and in health."
An interview with London Mayor candidate George Galloway Reviewed by Admin on 12:34 Rating: