George Galloway wins Bradford West by-election


Respect Party candidate George Galloway polled more than 18,000 votes

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Respect Party candidate George Galloway has taken the Bradford West parliamentary seat from Labour, winning the by-election by 10,140 votes.

Mr Galloway, expelled by Labour in 2003, said it was the "most sensational victory" in by-election history.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said it was "incredibly disappointing" and the party needed to "learn lessons".

At the 2010 General Election, Labour's Marsha Singh, who resigned on health grounds, won with a majority of 5,763 .

'Bradford spring'

The party had held the West Yorkshire seat since 1974, except for a brief period in the 1980s when the sitting MP defected to the SDP.

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An extraordinary result but surely a one-off political coup by a political one-off”

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Mr Galloway won 18,341 votes, a 56% share of the total vote. Labour candidate Imran Hussein came second with 8,201 votes as the party's share of the vote was 20% down on its 2010 figure.

Conservative candidate Jackie Whiteley was third, with 2,746 votes. Jeanette Sunderland, of the Liberal Democrats, secured 1,505 votes - the party lost its deposit.

Mr Galloway, who co-founded the anti-war Respect Party after being expelled by Labour because of comments he made as part of his opposition to the Iraq war, said the result represented the "Bradford Spring".

'Very disappointed'

He said the "mammoth vote" represented a "total rejection" of the three major parties in the British political system.


George Galloway was carried out of the sports centre where the votes had been counted, on the shoulders of his supporters.

"Galloway! Galloway!" they screamed jubilantly.

A small of convoy of cars, covered in Respect posters and flags, then completed a celebratory lap around an otherwise deserted football field, at 3am.

Why did George Galloway win here?

Firstly, he appears to have galvanised some who feel ignored, even disenfranchised by the main political parties.

An element of that is due to a specific local issue, the regularly delayed renovation of the city centre.

For others, in a multi-ethnic constituency, the call for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan was appealing.

For others still, this was a mid-term by-election.

It wasn't about choosing the next government, but sending a powerful message, selecting a noisy, high profile advocate to represent them.

Handing George Galloway a 10,000 vote majority certainly does that.

He said Labour "must stop imagining that working people and poor people have no option but to support them if they hate the Tory and Liberal Democrat coalition partners.

"They have to stop supporting illegal, bloody, costly foreign wars because one of the reasons why they were so decisively defeated this evening is that the public don't believe that they have atoned for their role in the invasion and occupation of other people's countries and the drowning of those countries in blood."

Mr Miliband said the result had been unexpected and the reasons for it were "not simple".

"We should have won this by-election and I am very disappointed we did not," he said.

"I think this was to do with local factors that were particular to the constituency and we have got to understand those lessons."

He said he would travel to Bradford in the near future to start the process of trying to "win back people's trust".

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said the party was "clearly disappointed" with the result while David Ward, Lib Dem MP for Bradford East, said Mr Galloway still spoke for the old Labour Party.

"This was the Asian community within Bradford, really, who are in some ways punishing the Labour Party for abusing them and using them in the past," he said.

But Salma Yaqoob, the Respect Party leader, said it was "patronising" to suggest that Mr Galloway - a critic of the UK's mission in Afghanistan - had been dependent on support from Muslims for his victory.

'Spectacular' loss

She told Radio 4's Today programme: "Look at the result...Over 50% of the vote. That is not just one community coming out to vote. That is young, old people, people across all areas. In fact in every area across the constituency, Respect won."


George Galloway's victory is the first time an independent or smaller party candidate has won a Parliamentary by-election from another party in Britain since March 1973, when Dick Taverne won the Lincoln by-election (taking it from Labour).

It is also the first time since the May 2000 Romsey by-election (when the Conservatives lost to the Lib Dems) that the main Opposition party has lost a seat in a by-election.

Bradford West is not a typical seat. In the great Labour landslide of 1997, when the Conservatives suffered their worst result since 1832, Bradford West swung their way, although it did stay Labour.

In the 2010 general election, when there was a national swing of 5.1% to the Conservatives, and a regional swing of 6.8% to the Conservatives in West Yorkshire, Bradford West swung 2.7% to Labour.

This does not detract from Mr Galloway's remarkable victory, nor lessen Labour's embarrassment at losing its seat but it prompts the need to be cautious about reading great national trends into this result.

Conservative Party co-chair Baroness Warsi said Mr Galloway had clearly "connected" with the electorate and suggested the result was disastrous for Labour.

"If Ed Miliband can't get his act together after a week like this when is he going to get his act together?" she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"This is a Labour seat, has been for many, many decades and last night they lost it in spectacular fashion."

BBC Yorkshire political editor Len Tingle said there had effectively been two campaigns in the seat - one with the three main UK parties focused on the economy and jobs, and the other run by Mr Galloway which had his party's anti-war message at its forefront.

Turnout in the by-election was just over 50%, compared with 64.9% in the 2010 general election.

Bookmakers said they had taken a lot of money on Mr Galloway in the days leading up to the poll and had slashed the odds on him winning. Ladbrokes said they faced paying out up to £100,000 in winning bets.

It is the second time Mr Galloway has upset the political odds - he pulled off one of the most memorable results of the 2005 General Election when he overturned a large Labour majority in London's Bethnal Green and Bow to become the Respect Party's first MP.

His win in Bradford West is a remarkable comeback after disappointing showings at the 2010 General Election and the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections. With a different candidate, Respect only came fifth in Bradford West in the 2010 General Election.

Labour have won all five previous by-elections in England and Scotland since the 2010 General Election.

The full result (with vote share and change since 2010 in brackets):

George Galloway (Respect) 18,341 (55.89%, +52.83%)

Imran Hussain (Lab) 8,201 (24.99%, -20.36%)

Jackie Whiteley (C) 2,746 (8.37%, -22.78%)

Jeanette Sunderland (LD) 1,505 (4.59%, -7.08%)

Sonja McNally (UKIP) 1,085 (3.31%, +1.31%)

Dawud Islam (Green) 481 (1.47%, -0.85%)

Neil Craig (D Nats) 344 (1.05%)

Howling Laud Hope (Loony) 111 (0.34%)


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  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Any independent is going to act as a beacon for those who feel disenfranchised by the 3 main parties. I think there are quite a few of us, so how about a few more independent candidates standing at the General Election. The results could be quite interesting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    40. whine99 All i said was that his Vote was about as relevant as someone from the BNP, and the BBC removed it. He is an extremist with just a different shade of colour. Will he create jobs in Bradford or deal with the issues, no he will just stand in the house of commons and shout pro Muslim slogans (like his voters want). Meanwhile in Bradford we all suffer. Like i said BBC=Thought Police.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    This result changes nothing. The win was largely down to the large Muslim population and George's celebrity status. This combination is not repeatable elsewhere in the UK, why would Labour change any of their stances because they lost one seat out of 250 they hold. This does not spell disaster for Lib/Lab/Con at all

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Spot on John
    At least they let that one through!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Why can't people give George a break over the BB fiasco. Surely if David Cameron can pretend to eat pasties in his spare time then George Galloway should be able to pretend to be a cat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    This is not about Galloway. It's about our political leaders being drawn from a narrow range of graduates who studied PPE at Oxbridge. We need political leaders who are drawn from the general public who have done real jobs not just worked as political advisers or this will be the beginning of all manner of extremists being elected.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    The BBC seem to want to stop people saying the truth, its the Pakistani vote that got him there. Not the white, eastern european or any other nationality that lives here votes. My guess is that there will still be the same problems that we have in Bradford in have in 4 years time all the while he gets a fat paycheck. BBC=thought police.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Incidentally - it is irrelevant to talk about the Cons being down 22% - they had no votes to speak of and their lost votes more likely went to UKIP.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Remember, millions marched in opposition to Blair's crusades in Iraq and Afghanistan, adventures which brought great shame not just on those who voted for him, but on the Labour Party and the country as a whole. Galloway speaks for these people; a voice of reason amidst neo-con hysteria. There's hope after all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    33.Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
    and you voted for a man who acted like a cat in a reality show...pity you, I really do!
    So what.
    Many voted for some guys who took money of pensioners and handed it over to people earning >£150K....

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    and you voted for a man who acted like a cat in a reality show...pity you, I really do!

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    So lets look at the Evidence.
    Spouts anti war stuff at a large number of asian people who will listen and think he is brilliant.
    They then vote him in cos they think he is on their side
    Lets see the breakdown of who voted for him then we will see the proper picture.
    And before you play the racist card .. I am married to a Muslim

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    it is silly to draw such sweeping conclusions as so many are doing. He is a very odd chap; making a play to a [significant] minority in a Muslim area, on an issue that is totally irrelevant to running the country and government. It is just exploitation of those who arent integrated in society and not repeatable UK-wide. Nonetheless frightening that such a dangerous man is able to do it.

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    "Anti-war campaigner wins UK by-election"

    for once a nice, positive headline.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Many here are missing the point including the media the result of this is simple its a massive 2 fingers to the 3 main parties, and that ladies and gentlemen is the real mood of the country, which is NOT portayed by the main media

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Good one by George, lets hope he puts the wind up this shower we have.

    I don't know why folks are harping on about Ed Miliband, just think if he was PM who do you think will be in his cabinet now that's worrying for a start.

    Cleggy's no chance, Cameron's more a mouse than leader and can't be trusted, don't want VAT on puff pastry do we?

    George, you don't mind being cloned do ya?

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    If this does not wake Ed Milliband and the Labour Party up then nothing will. That is a shame as the ConDems will carry on to enjoy the same unchallenged rule as Labour has recently.

    George Galloway has been gifted the Mp's job by Labour as they have failed to convince the electorate that they can be trusted with the economy, foreign policy or stand up for the not so rich.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    It is the size of his majority which should send shivers down Ed's spine.
    The Tories were down 22% as well.

    But you are right Labour would be miles ahead in the polls if they had cleared out the old, failed dross and were fighting on a platform of new radical policies, which put the British public first for a change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    I'd be curious if any of the people praising Galloway can explain (in a positive way) why his attendance at the house when he last served as an MP was almost zero. Rather than represent the people who elect him as a local MP he'd much rather tour the world representing Arab dictators.....
    Not many other true socialists own Villas in the Algarve either.


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