George Galloway is to stand for Parliament at an upcoming by-election in Manchester, he has announced.
The veteran left-winger accused Labour of being a “divided, ineffective opposition” and said he would contest Manchester Gorton to replace the late Labour MP Gerald Kaufman.
The seat, which has been held by Labour since 1935, is ultra-safe. Mr Kaufman took 67.1 per cent of the vote in 2015, with the Green Party in second place on 9.8 per cent and Conservatives on 9.7 per cent in third place.
Mr Galloway, however, has a history of overturning large major Labour majorities; in 2005 he unseated Labour MP Oona King in Bethnal Green and Bow in east London. In 2012 he pulled off a similar feat, ousting Labour in the Bradford West by-election.
The former MP, who was kicked out of the Labour party in 2003 for comments he made about the Iraq War, hoped to emulate his previous successes.
“I have decided to seek election for Manchester Gorton in the forthcoming by-election precisely because of my admiration for its late MP and I hope to persuade voters of every background that I am the best person to try to fill his shoes,” he wrote in an article for the Westmonster website.
“I want to continue his work on international issues – which are particularly important in Gorton – especially the issues of Palestine and Kashmir but also the broader questions, the dangerous confrontation between the West and the Muslim world which threatens all of us.
“I would like to be the big voice for Manchester Gorton it still needs.”
He added: “I opposed Tony Blair with all my heart and soul and paid for it with my expulsion from the party in 2003 – after 36 years of membership.
“This week is the 14th anniversary of the Iraq War, against which I was one of the leaders of the greatest mass movements ever seen in this country.
“I make it plain here – if I am re-elected to Parliament I will seek to put Mr Blair on trial for war crimes, crimes against humanity and lying to the British Parliament and people.”
The declaration comes after Labour reveals its shortlist for the election – with Unite and Momentum-backed left-winger Sam Wheeler absent. Mr Wheeler was rumoured to be the favourite of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.