Bradford - an extraordinary one-off


George Galloway: "This most sensational result... represents the Bradford Spring"

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

George Galloway has proved that he has the charisma, the celebrity and the message to appeal to the young, the disillusioned and the angry particularly in the Muslim community.

His 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.

The BBC's psephology guru David Cowling points out that 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 to the Conservatives (though remained 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.

Having said all that, it is a setback for Labour since opposition parties during government crises are meant to win and win big.

I posted last night on the reasons the Tories might want to panic about the events of the past couple of weeks.

The news this morning brought one reminder of the one thing which is keeping them (relatively) calm in Downing Street.

They believe - to put it politely - that Ed Miliband is not a winner. Their hope is that Labour's defeat in Bradford will soon be followed by defeats in London - with Boris beating Ken - and Glasgow - where the SNP are hopeful of defeating Labour in the council elections.

Boris Johnson and Alex Salmond are, arguably, one-offs too but if Labour loses to all of them they will have a problem. Opposition parties need momentum and election defeats would rob them of that.

None of this should cheer up the Conservatives much. They came a poor third in Bradford and were meant to be looking to increase their vote in order to try to win the 2015 election having failed to win the 2010 one.

PS: I'm told that the pasty tax is not so unpopular in Bradford where small independent curry shops have had to charge VAT on hot takeout whilst big, wealthy chains like Greggs and the supermarkets have not had to on their hot takeout food. Anyone from Bradford like to tell me whether that's true?

Update: Welsh colleagues have pointed out that Dai Davies - an independent - won the Blaenau Gwent by-election from Labour in 2006. He actually successfully defended the seat that had been won by an independent at the previous general election in 2005 - so not the same as Galloway's achievement.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    For a long time now I have been assaulted on a daily basis by escalating bad news. I wake up today to this glorious glittering gem of just a whiff of political awakening & change and am so very glad.

    Stuff the warmongers and those who peddle pathetic, uncalled for & downright dangerous austerity measures.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Well he certainly knows how to exploit very heavily divided seats.

    He courts a particular in bethnall and bow. Divide and rule in perfection.

    Certainly a one off but interesting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    I can understand the frustration with the 3 'main' parties: it is hard to see any difference between them, bereft of ideas, self-serving, all ready to put self, cronies and party before the good of the nation, weaving around the edges of corruption and dishonesty, frequently telling lies or reneging on 'promises' made... but Galloway? He is of the same breed, even if he's switched parties...

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    The "one-off" analysis seems off, given that this is the second time that Galloway has won a safe seat from Labour

    Similarly, the pre-emptive dismissal of the Scottish council election results is odd.SNP gains there would be in line with a broader trend, not a personality driven one-off.

    Could it be that these things are both outside the Westminster bubble and therefore "don't really count"

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Re your PS, Nick - yes, it's true. Small businesses have had to charge VAT on hot takeaway food since 1984 while large businesses have not. It's a great pity that the government haven't done a better job of explaining this previous inequality, rather than it being hijacked as a tax on the poor! Maybe it's because the conservatives were in power in 1984...

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Not just the curry houses Nick, but the chip shops as well.

    For all of them the pasty tax stops undercutting - not just from Greggs but the likes of Subway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Bradford has a 36% muslim population, if you have a candidate concentrating purely on this vote you get a landslide!

    Surely the story is HOW can this happen in modern day Britain, that there is an enclave of voters who feel so alienated from the country it lives in that the youth vote for a man who supported genocidalist Saddam Hussain, and reject all mainstream politicians?

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    The established parties should be learning a lesson from this - that people are sick of their continual wars, and paying for the crimes of the rich. Will they? No, they will spin it away, with the help of their BBC lackeys.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Not a fan of George's politics but his election put smile on my face this morning. He can certainly create a stir.!

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    The times they are a changin'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    So many people are fed up with all of the main political parties now.

    Could this be the start of an uprising politically? Yes

    At the next elections, local and national, let's see lots independents standing and winning seats.

    Time to take away political power from those who currently are so out of touch with, and care so little for the people.

    I'll stand as an independent now - anyone else?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Only the BBC would have someone called a 'psephology guro' and only Nick would use such a description of a political analyst.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    I punched the air with joy when I heard this. I am not a huge fan of Galloway but he has proven courage in standing up to the liars who started the Iraq war and I hope others with broadly similar policies will give the smug, smarmy,utterly middle-class estate agents who run our country (and who want to run our country) a rough ride from now on !

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    What may give all parties pause for thought on Galloway's victory is the possibility that this may be the first intimations of identity politics raising its unwelcome head.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Both Labour and the Conservatives need to wake up. The people have had enough of the polarized politics and retoric we get from both of them.
    We have not come very far since the Maga Cara , still ran by the landed gentry with no opposition.

    Can't wait to here George in the house.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    This result shows the incredibly low esteem the voters feel for all the main political parties at present. It's a classic voters protest and it would be good if Cameron and Clegg listened. They won't however, as they know that results like this are frequently reversed at General Elections.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    I quite like Galloway - it's good to have charismatic mavericks making a splash in politics.

    So long as they don't get near real power, they're a definite plus.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Nick your a mouth piece for the status quo - People are sick to the back teeth of all the three main political parties such as MP expense, cash for dinners, cash for honors etc, time for a change. This is just the start, get use to it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Not sure if Galloway is representing a people feeling underrepresented or due his extreme non western views ( Maybe both? Side taking is synonymous with politics and that includes what constitutes ANY moral high ground.Plus an interesting feature of how extreme belief can get over extreme moral high ground. + Galloway wants the Falklands oil taken away.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    I cannot believe anyone would vote for this guy .


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