Galloway refuses to apologise as Respect falls apart around him

George Galloway adopted an uncompromising position on his Julian Assange statements yesterday, even as his political party fell apart around him.

The Respect MP cast aspersions on Salma Yaqoob, the widely-admired leader of the party who walked out earlier this week in disgust at Galloway's description of allegations against Assange as bad "sexual etiquette".

"I have no doubt that we'll see her back in politics soon, wearing a different cap, and that might explain some things," he told members of his constituency in Bradford yesterday.

"We'll see if I am right about that."

The comments seem to imply that Yaqoob is aiming for a position with the Labour party.

Galloway also refused to apologise for the Assange comments and insisted the allegations against the Wikileaks founder were part of a "set up" by the US government.

"I cannot and will not apologise for what I said. Every word in my podcast, I stand by. I do not talk loosely about matters such as these," he said.

"Rape is a vile crime. Mass murder is worse. The invasion and occupation of one Muslim country after another by the United States is even worse.

"Julian Assange has been set up by a government which is determined to see him serving 50 years of penal servitude in solitary confinement – conditions which amount to mental torture. I am speaking out against that and will continue to do so."

The Assange row is particularly damaging for Galloway, who relied on the support of Bradford's previously-ignored Muslim women for his spectacular victory earlier this year

The Muslim Women’s Council Bradford Circle, where he spoke last night, saw attendants split in their response to the firebrand MP. Galloway responded to many critical questions by insisting people did not need to vote for him.

At the end of the meetingh, chairman Bana Gora said: "A lot of people came here today expecting a public apology and George made it perfectly clear that was not what he wanted to do and he would not do that.

"As a chairman obviously I’m impartial, but on behalf of the Muslim Women’s Council and on behalf of women’s organisations and rape crisis organisations that have been represented here today, I’m sure there’s many women that will actually go home disappointed, which is a shame."

Meanwhile, Wikileaks was dealing with its own controversies, after it compared the UK's threat to revoke the Ecuadorian embassy's diplomatic status with the killing of the US ambassador in Libya yesterday.

"By the US accepting the UK siege on the Ecuadorian embassy in London it gave tacit approval for attacks on embassies around the world," the group tweeted.

The tweet was deleted after other users responded with outrage.