George Galloway has accused Labour of forcing an "all-Asian" candidate shortlist in the Manchester Gorton by-election, as he announced his plans to stand as an Independent.
Mr Galloway, who was expelled from Labour in 2003, denounced the party's shortlist of five ethnic minority contenders to be its candidate as an "insult" to the local community.
He said the list had been engineered by National Executive Committee member Keith Vaz, who sits on the selection panel for the constituency.
There was no immediate response to a request for comment from Mr Vaz.
In a statement released on Tuesday to the website Westmonster, he said: "The 'All-Asian short-list' hand-picked by Keith Vaz is just not good enough for the people of Gorton, one of the most deprived constituencies in Britain."
"The short-listing, which excluded many better candidates, is the latest in a long line of insults delivered by mainstream parties to local communities."
Congratulations to George Galloway on astonishing result in Bradford. Big message here on opposition to wars and austerity.— Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) March 30, 2012
George Galloway once again demonstrating why he will never be readmitted to the Labour Party https://t.co/AfySqoQW7X— Alice Perry (@aliceperryuk) March 21, 2017
I see George Galloway is standing as an independent in the Manchester Gorton by-election. pic.twitter.com/s5h2yVcXCS— DidsburyGirl (@didsburygirl) March 21, 2017
Galloway, of course, is a close friend of Corbyn's director of communications Seumas Milne. Awkward? https://t.co/5idm2utBU0— James Ball (@jamesrbuk) March 21, 2017
All five candidates on Labour's shortlist for the by-election are are of south Asian background- representing a total of 29 per cent of the constituency.
They are the North West MEP Afzal Khan and city councillors Yasmine Dar, Amina Lone, Luthfur Rahman and Nasrin Ali.
Two allies of Jeremy Corbyn and the left-wing organisation Momentum– local councillor Julie Reid and activist Sam Wheeler and– both failed to make the shortlist.
Labour said Galloway’s decision to stand in the election was “entirely self-serving" and offered "nothing to the local community”.
Mr Galloway was a Labour MP in Glasgow seats from 1987 until his 2003 expulsion, later serving as Respect MP for Glasgow Kelvin until 2005, for Bethnal Green and Bow from 2005-10 and Bradford West from 2012-15.
Lisa Nandy, the MP coordinating Labour’s campaign, said constituents in the seat, “deserve better than a man who has described the sexual assault of women as ‘bad sexual etiquette’”.