Victory For British Left As Galloway Storms To Victory In Bradford West

Posted: April 2, 2012 in Elections, UK
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Former Labour Party MP and Celebrity Big Brother contestant George Galloway made a spectacular political comeback with his landslide victory in Thursday’s Bradford West parliamentary by-election. Galloway, who stood for the Respect Party on an anti-war and anti-cuts platform, beat the Labour candidate Imran Hussain by 18,341 votes to 8,201. The Tories came third with 2,746 votes. By-elections are routinely an opportunity for insurgent outsiders, but few shoot from absolutely nowhere to victory. Fewer still claim an outright majority of the poll. Even a glancing look at the figures will demonstrate clearly that Galloway’s Respect profited from losses made across the mainstream.

The crucial factor behind Galloway’s win was anger at a complacent Labour political establishment in Bradford that had taken voters for granted and delivered nothing. Imran Hussain is deputy leader of Bradford council and chair of the local Labour Party. Labour has pushed through £67 million in cuts in the city, slashing over 1,000 jobs. This success for the Respect candidate comes at a time when polls show that 72% of people believe the government is “out of touch with ordinary voters” and 60% do not trust the Prime Minister and the Chancellor on the economy. Yet the Labour Party lost this safe seat in a landslide to George Galloway proving that whilst people do not trust this government they are not willing to put their trust in Labour either.

Many have tried to attribute Galloway’s success to Bradford’s large minority community and his and his party’s stance on the war in Afghanistan, however  though there is truth in all this, it is a complacent analysis – which disrespects Bradford’s voters. A failing war in Afghanistan is a special concern for the Muslim community, but it is unpopular more widely too. With the mainstream meekly united behind that lost cause, it is no surprise if voters hunt around for alternatives. George Galloway articulated the frustration of ordinary voters, regardless of ethnicity or faith, with the politics of the main parties in a way that resonated with their daily struggles and experiences. So please let us not insult their intelligence by suggesting that faith and ethnicity has something to do with his victory. Lest we forget he was standing against a local Muslim ethnic minority Labour candidate.

Galloway was a Glasgow Labour MP for 18 years until he was expelled for his opposition to the Iraq war. He won Bethnal Green for Respect in 2005 defeating pro-war Labour MP Oona King. He stood down from that east London seat in 2010 but failed to win the neighbouring seat of Poplar & Limehouse. But his Bradford gain puts him back in the House of Commons. What this victory also represents is the changing face of politics in Britain, with support for the mainstream parties rapidly falling away people are searching for alternatives.

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