Kingston councillor working for George Galloway on Rochdale by-election says role is ‘perfectly legitimate’

Cllr James Giles, who leads the Kingston Independent Residents Party on the Kingston Council, has said that his role as a “strategic campaigns consultant” for George Galloway’s Rochdale by-election campaign does not conflict with his work on the council.

“What I do to pay my bills, frankly, so long as it is legal, which it absolutely is, is no different to how Ed Davey pays his bills,” Giles said.

New Malden Liberal Democrat councillor Mark Durrant condemned Giles’ work with Galloway, saying: “Rather than criss-crossing the country to participate in nasty and divisive campaigns the leader of KIRG should focus on the job he was elected to do.”

The Conservative councillor for Coombe Hill, Rowena Bass, described Giles as “hard working”, but urged him to be “transparent” and “wary of any inappropriate links”.

Galloway, who Giles is working with, hopes to be elected MP for Rochdale in a by-election taking place on February 29 and is widely recognised as a controversial figure.

George Galloway at a rally in 2022.
Credit: Story Picture Agency/Shutterstock
British politician, broadcaster and writer George Galloway is running for MP in the Rochdale by-election.

His party, the Worker’s Party of Britain, in their manifesto (which has been published online), calls for the imposition of a planned economy and the withdrawal of the UK from NATO. The party also seeks to defend both ‘the positive historical legacy of the Soviet Union’ and the ‘achievements’ of China and Cuba.

Giles said he had not read the manifesto, claiming it had “no resemblance to what we’re doing here in Rochdale, nor does it have any resemblance to what I’m doing in my professional capacity”.

He added that he was “not willing to comment” on [Galloway’s] party policy because he was “not working for them”.  

Instead, Giles asserted he was simply “providing strategic campaign advice on how to win Rochdale”.

This is despite the fact that Galloway is not running in Rochdale as an independent, but as a candidate of the WPB, of which he is also the leader.

Giles, who in addition to council work, describes himself as a ‘self-employed consultant and broadcaster’, has previously worked with both George Galloway and his wife, Gayatri, on two of the hopeful MP’s programmes broadcast by Russia Today (RT).

James Giles hosting George Galloway's Mother of All Talk Shows in 2021.
Credit: George Galloway/Youtube
James Giles filling-in for Galloway on the Russia Today broadcast Mother of All Talk Shows in 2021.

Giles filled-in as host on ‘Sputnik: Orbiting the World’ for six weeks in 2021 and made multiple appearances on Galloway’s The Mother of All Talk Shows as a guest and host in 2020.

Despite this, the councillor insisted he was employed by the Associated Press and “never worked” for Russia Today and “to the best of [his] knowledge, never met a Russian in a professional capacity as either a campaigns consultant [or] as a freelance journalist”.

When asked if he knew before his appearances that the shows would be broadcast on RT, he refused to answer, rejecting the “premise” of the question.

Giles does not believe that his political consultancy work should reflect his own political beliefs, which he describes as “localist”.

“I do not agree that to work for someone you need to agree with what they are saying,” Giles said.

In addition to working on Galloway’s campaign, Giles said he has worked with “all colours” of the political spectrum on election campaigns, including Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Independent candidates.

Giles refused to elaborate on who exactly these other clients were saying only that he “chooses [them] carefully”.

While Kingston Council’s code of conduct requires councillors to register ‘any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried out for profit’, it does not call for councillors to disclose who their clients may be in their line of work.

As for concerns his efforts in Rochdale and elsewhere effect his capacity as a councillor, Giles contended it “did not affect [his] ability to work on the Kingston Council”.

According to Kingston Council’s website, Giles’ attendance rate at meetings stands at 77%, compared to a council average of 82%.

“There are dozens if not hundreds of councillors who undertake political consultancy, I declare my work, I told the electorate before I was elected, and they chose to elect me. If they don’t like that they can stand against me or vote me out,” Giles said.

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