Labour 'disappointed' as Galloway hails Bradford West win

 

George Galloway: "There's a massive well of dissatisfaction in this country"

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George Galloway has said his surprise victory in the Bradford West by-election showed the "alienation" of voters from the main political parties.

The Respect Party politician said his win also reflected concerns about jobs and the economy - and was not just based on the support of Muslim voters.

Labour's Ed Miliband said the loss of the seat was "incredibly disappointing"

He said "local factors" were partly to blame but pledged to "learn lessons" from the defeat.

But the BBC's chief political correspondent Norman Smith said the poll, coming at the end of a difficult week for the coalition government, should have been a "stroll in the park" and that there were questions whether the Labour leadership could connect with its core supporters.

Mr Galloway, expelled by Labour in 2003, won the by-election by 10,140 votes, in the process of overturning a Labour majority of more than 5,000 at the 2010 general election.

'Tidal wave'

He told the BBC that his win represented a "peaceful democratic uprising" against the established political parties and their leaders.

Analysis

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 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.

"It was a bit of tidal wave and it was one waiting to break all over the country," he told Radio 4's World At One.

"There are very large numbers of people completely disenchanted and alienated from the political process and from the mainstream political parties...There is no difference between the Tories, the Lib Dems and New Labour, or at least not a sufficient difference for anyone to notice or care."

He said he had focused his campaign on tackling Bradford's economic problems, suggesting the city had "gone backwards" during Labour's years in government.

"There is a great deal of concern about mass unemployment, poverty, poor educational statistics, poor health and a general sense of abandonment in post-industrial cities like Bradford," he said.

Other parties have suggested Mr Galloway depended on support from Asian voters in the city, with many Muslim voters attracted to his opposition to the war in Iraq and his call for troops to withdraw from Afghanistan immediately.

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

Lib Dem MP David Ward, who represents neighbouring Bradford East, has claimed white voters in the constituency "washed their hands" of the campaign.

'Something big'

He told the BBC the by-election came down to a "straight fight" between Mr Galloway and his Labour opponent for votes in inner-city areas, which have a larger Asian population.

Graphic showing ethnic mix in Bradford West

But Mr Galloway said the 50% turnout in the ballot "belied that".

"We won in virtually every area," he said. "We got support from all kinds of people."

He rejected claims that he had focused his message on just one section of the community.

"It was Labour who put up an Asian candidate who campaigned that he was a Pakistani Muslim," he said. "I don't think that is a charge that can be laid at us."

Mr Galloway said Respect, which was formed in 2004 in opposition to the Iraq war, would be campaigning vigorously during the upcoming council and mayoral elections and suggested it was "the start of something big" for the party.

Labour, whose share of the vote fell by more than 20% as it was pushed into second place, have said the result was totally unexpected.

'Local factors'

Opposition leader Ed Miliband said it was "incredibly disappointing" and he would be visiting the constituency in the next couple of weeks.

Ed Miliband: "I'm going to talk to people in Bradford to find out why this result happened"

"Clearly there were local factors, but I also say only four out of 10 people voted for the three mainstream political parties," he said.

"We've got to understand the reasons why that happened in Bradford."

He added: "We need to be engaged and rooted in every community of this country. We need to show to people that our politics, that Labour politics, can make a difference to people's lives."

The party's deputy leader Harriet Harman said the result did not reflect a lack of confidence in Mr Miliband's leadership as the party had performed strongly in other by-elections and council elections over the past year.

The Conservatives, who came third in the by-election with 2,746 votes, also saw their vote fall by more than 20%.

The party's co-chair, Baroness Warsi, said governments tended not to win by-elections and the result was more damaging for Labour.

"If Labour can't win one of their safe seats in these tough economic times and in a tough week for the government, how can they win anywhere?

"Not in half a century has an Opposition come back from such an appalling result to win a majority at the next general election.

"This tells you everything you need to know about Ed Miliband's weak leadership."

The Lib Dems came fourth and lost their deposit.

Thursday by-election was triggered by the resignation of former Labour MP Marsha Singh, who resigned on health grounds.

Labour 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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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 77.

    I see this not as a vote for G Galloway but rather a none of the above verdict on the 3 main parties. Sadly when the General election comes the cannon fodder will troop into the polling stations and vote along tribal lines as per usual and nothing will change.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 76.

    Unfortunately there are large Muslim populations around the country that listen to people like him.
    But put this in perspective.. Not all Muslims beleive the rubbish Galloway and people like him spout out..some are more easier to dupe just as in any other cultural background!!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 75.

    Upsetting the apple cart

    A swathe of Independent candidates are now needed to utterly unseat the big three, Lab, Lib, Con. Push them off the pedestal of government and further into minority! It would be quite a shake up but must be done and because we cannot carry on in the present cycle of maladministration and economic decline

    Lots of work to be done before the next General Election?

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 74.

    There is one thing Galloway's election will do for certain and that is send a shiver along Labour's front bench looking for a spine to run down

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 73.

    49.margaret howard
    "The 'Allies' (read Americans) killed more people "liberating" Iraq etc!"

    Not quite true.

    1. It's unclear how many Saddam killed.
    2. I think you'll find we were the trigger in Iraq - most killings have been done by other Iraqis and insurgents, not our troops. (I was against the war btw)

    Galloway and others ignore this.

    Today is a grave warning to the main parties.

  • rate this
    +31

    Comment number 72.

    @ 49.margaret howard:

    "The 'Allies' (read Americans) killed more people "liberating" Iraq than Saddam managed during his years in power"

    Totally false! Saddam was responsible for killing about 800,000 Iraqi's, before we start on neighbouring countrie like Iran and Kuwait.

  • rate this
    +59

    Comment number 71.

    I live in Bradford, it's a sad day for the city. Galloway was always going to win; he's merely pandered to Bradford's Muslim population, spouting out anti-West soundbites and making the usual chocolate promises about regeneration and investment. He doesn't understand the deep rooted problems of a city divided along sectarian lines; or he wouldn't have pandered to just one section of the community.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 70.

    Labour must be bold enough to offer something other than a nicer way of doing austerity. When people switched from Blair/Brown to Cameron it seemed a small step - Dave was smooth, like Blair, and just offered ... more Blair, really. It didn't turn out that way, and this Galloway protest vote is the public's verdict. Dave's a disaster and Ed doesn't offer a clear enough alternative.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 69.

    Well George you've got the job lets see what you can do for us in Bradford . Labour have taken us for granted . I hope you can bring prosperity to the area. Get the Bradford Hole sorted for starters,give Westfield a kick up the backside.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 68.

    This isn't a rejection of Labour, this is a rejection off all three mainstream parties who all support the neoliberal policies and won't offer anything else but austerity and austerity-lite.

    Take note Labour: You lost to a party more left wing than you.

    If Ed still wants to appeal to 'the middle' he should back drivers, doctors, teachers and the public who've had enough of Thatcherite policies.

  • Comment number 67.

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

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 66.

    This was a meaningless and pointless 'fed up with politics' vote.
    Galloway makes some valid points but his ideas ramble and fall flat as will his tenure in Bradford.
    The real problem for Labour is being unable to hold on to a labour seat when times are so hard and the current govt is getting it in the neck from all sides.
    Ed Miliband and Ed Balls are just not most peoples cup of tea.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 65.

    I'm saddened but not surprised at how much of the commentary on GG's BW win, refuses to recognise it's significance, & GG's achievements. You don't have to agree with his views, to recognise that he is a very talanted & resourceful politician. People continue to vote for him because what he says & does reflects their own thinking and aspirations. Can't we simply respect the results of democracy?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 64.

    I am disturbed to find people thinking that to say bluntly that we are at war in Afghanistan is to make him the cat's paw of Middle Eastern dictatorships. No. George Galloway is absolutely right, and is spot on the money as to why we need to leave Afghanistan right now. Already, Israel and America are lining up their next war, in Iran. When will this madness end?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 63.

    Ed Milliband is useless - George Galloway is even more uselesser! Bad grammar intended! Left, left, left . . it's a hard life having a social conscience. Shame we couldnt have all that single minded, self-centred, 'money is our God' Tory way of looking at things , electoral success would be so much easier to predict in England. I dislike EM & CG but even worse still are DC & GO!

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 62.

    George is only a mouth piece ,but for who? Good luck Bradford .

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 61.

    Well done George. Nice to see the hysteria you have created amongst the political classes , including the media. The Bradford West election was totally ignored by everyone including the BBC. So no wonder the voters rebelled.
    I used to be a Labour supporter, but post Blair/Campbell they offer nothing except a pale blue future. Why wouldn't I vote for George ?

  • rate this
    +34

    Comment number 60.

    It must be very depressing for New Labour. After all, wasn't the whole point of mass immigration to bolster the Labour vote?

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 59.

    I guess all tea breaks are cancelled for moderators on this one then! :-)

  • Comment number 58.

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

 

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