George Galloway sets his sights on becoming 'big name' MSP

GEORGE Galloway is set for a dramatic return to Scottish politics after he said it was "pretty certain" he would stand for election as an MSP at next year's Holyrood elections.

• George Galloway appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2006 Picture: PA

The controversial former Respect MP told The Scotsman he was launching a campaign website and had set-up an e-mail address for his bid to become a Glasgow list MSP.

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Mr Galloway said he would run on a platform of "Galloway 4 Glasgow" and was likely to set up an office in the city in the New Year as well as having a home there in the run-up to next year's poll.

Mr Galloway, who was a Glasgow MP from 1987-2005, said that his Holyrood campaign was his next "big project" and that it was his "return" to Scotland.

The Dundee-born politician also said he would target the SNP, which is hoping to win one of the seven Holyrood list places for Glasgow, and claimed that independence would "impoverish" Scotland.

Mr Galloway, who claims he may only need 10,000 votes to win a seat in the Scottish Parliament, also said that he was likely to stand as a Respect party candidate.

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His party has a policy of not standing in Scotland due to the presence of the Scottish Socialist Party, but Mr Galloway said he would ask the Respect conference to change the rules at its conference this weekend as the SSP had "disintegrated".

He said: "It's pretty certain that I'm going to stand. People are looking for bigger names."

Mr Galloway went on to say that he was speaking at an event in Glasgow on 28 November, when he was likely to make "a final announcement" about how his campaign will be run.

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He said: "I'll talk about what kind of people will be on the campaign list and there will be at least three.

"During the campaign I'll make clear that I'm strongly against separatism, which would impoverish us."

Mr Galloway, who was expelled from Labour over his opposition to the party's actions on Iraq, said that he would stand on the principles of a "Labour man".

The left-winger, who is understood to have a database of up to 400 supporters in Glasgow, also said he expected to get big support from the "city's Asian community" at next year's election.

He said that he would mainly raise domestic issues at Holyrood, but said that he would have "had a lot to say" about the controversy release of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi last year.

Mr Galloway, who was the MP for London's Bethnal Green and Bow constituency from 2005 until this year's General Election, but also represented Glasgow Kelvin, is set to finalise his campaign details after a speaking tour of North America at the end of the week.

However, Mr Galloway's return to Scottish politics was met with dismay from the left wing Glasgow list Green MSP Patrick Harvie.

Mr Harvie, who could come under pressure due to Mr Galloway's challenge, said: "This is just what the Socialist parties need: another tanned ego hell-bent on splitting their vote."