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.


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

    Comment number 137.


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

    How bizarre - if BBC applied same bizarre standards of moderation to all the postings there would be zero comments on here?

    Bradford? Is it still (?)

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Say what you like about him but at least he doesn't try to shy away from real issues. Yes he may have questionable character but how many politicians don't? People have been completely misled by mainstream media for years and you can clearly see they don't like him. When the US/UK were supporting Iraq against Iran he was one of few to criticise the Saddam dictatorship.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    Imagine telling people your MP is George Gallowy. Just how embarrassing would that be ?
    To answer your handle, yes, you have got that wrong. I would be proud to vote for George, just as I was proud to vote for Tony Benn and Denis Skinner when I lived in their constituencies.

    The only people "embarrassed" by him are those he speaks out against. Esp. the extreme right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    If the answer is George Galloway I have a fair idea what the question must have been.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    A more worrying block vote then anything the unions ever conjured up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    Excellent news & only a surprise to the mainstream puppet media such as the BBC!

    PEOPLE SEE THROUGH THESE ECONOMIC WARS! yes they cost more than just lives but they also feed a power hungry class & a MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX which has its feet in a stinking pit of evil......Which all the main stream parties support!

    ITS ALL A CON & SOME IN THE UK SEE THROUGH IT...Galloway reps those people!

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Well done Glloway.

  • Comment number 130.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    We need a "peoples party" to represent decency and honesty with represensatives/MPs who have proper work experience and want to serve their country.Then we should use our money firstly at home; not paying for endless wars and conflicts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Galloways Party could be the new LIB DEMS now we have seen the Lib dems true colours .

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    Labour lost its postal votes to Galloway. ;-)

    Joking aside, the Greens in Brighton... and respect in Bradford...

    Highly targeted.... not national.

    Obviously if your in a constituency with a huge Islamic population, you better get used to candidates who will campaign with Religion as a central issue.

    I am not being inflammatory, but divided cultures mean divisive politics.

    Ask George.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    I am not at all sure what George stands for, but it cannot be denied that he has had a dramatic effect. Perhaps the truth of the matter is that electorate are so angry with the big three Lab, Lib, Con, for making such utter mess of the country over last thirty years, that folk were itching for a protest vote to teach the arrogant cronies a sharp lesson & to give them a well deserved caning!

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    A great victory! Proof that there is great support for something other than Neo-Conservatism, which will privatize everything, destroy any incentives other than profit, destroy civil society, increase crime and make it seem normal, and lead us into more forever wars on foreign lands. Can't wait until PMQs with George.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    Like or loathe his politics, at least you know Galloway says what he believes and believes in what he says.

    Infinitely preferable to most of the other politicans who try to make patsys out of us by posing to buy pastys.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    Excellent News!
    as a member of the disaffected British public i’m truly delighted that Galloway’s ‘thorn’ might be felt deeply in the side of many present self-interested practitioners of all three main parties ‘coalition politics’ at the House Of Commons
    like it or not_ Galloway IS a genuine People’s representative _ it is high time there was more of a ‘public’ voice in HoC

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    Galloway is a professional rabble rouser who will latch onto any disgruntled constituency and tell them what they want to hear. In this case, repeating his previous outing in London, he has stood in a district with a large muslim population and told them that they are being victimised. People love trumps any shortcomings they may have. One seat for Galloway. One useless MP for Bradford

  • Comment number 121.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    The people of Bradford dont know what to do to make themselves a laughing stock next

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    As the real Confucius once said
    "Once you have been a cat on Celebrity Big Brother, you will always be THE cat FROM Celebrity Big Brother"

  • Comment number 118.

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


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