Leeds & West Yorkshire

Labour 'underestimated Galloway in Bradford by-election'

Respect Party candidate George Galloway
Image caption Respect Party candidate George Galloway polled more than 18,000 votes in Bradford West

The Labour Party "massively underestimated" the threat from George Galloway and Respect in local elections in West Yorkshire, a report has said.

The report found that the Labour Party in Bradford West failed to engage with the community, which has a large population of Asian origin.

Labour leader Ed Miliband ordered the report following the party's defeat on 29 March.

Mr Galloway took more than 55% of the vote in the formerly-safe Labour seat.

This equated to a swing of 36%.

The report, conducted by the party's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC), said Labour had failed to win the trust of Bradford West voters.

'Off-the-shelf'

The report said parties should make more effort locally to engage with ethnic minority communities in areas where they make up a large proportion of the voters.

When he visited Bradford West after the defeat in March, Mr Miliband said he was "determined to learn the lessons" of the defeat.

The report said the Respect party attracted protest votes from people who viewed Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats as part of the establishment.

It said local parties should visit voters' doorsteps and use social media to discuss their concerns, rather than spending time in meetings.

Labour General Secretary Iain McNicol said the Bradford West campaign had been an "off-the-shelf by-election model" and admitted the party needed to modernise the way it behaves.

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