Bradford West: Respect

Since May 2010, there have been six by-elections, and every one of them a hold for Labour until last night.


  • George Galloway (Respect) 18,341 (55.89%, +52.83%)
  • Imran Hussain (Labour) 8,201 (24.99%, -20.36%)
  • Jackie Whiteley (Conservative) 2,746 (8.37%, -22.78%)
  • Jeanette Sunderland (Liberal Democrat) 1,505 (4.59%, -7.08%)
  • Sonja McNally (UKIP) 1,085 (3.31%, +1.31%)
  • Dawud Islam (Green) 481 (1.47%, -0.85%)

Eoin Clarke very nicely shows that the biggest slide towards George Galloway was among Tory voters. (Update: And more realistically, Matthew Butcher notes that Galloway’s victory should be a wake-up call to the left – GG campaigned on an anti-austerity platform in a constituency where a Labour council had implemented ConDem cuts.)

Austerity Isn't Working

But the 2010 election results for Bradford West had Labour winning with a margin over 14 percentage higher than the Tories: 2.9% of formerly-Tory voters were voting Labour: Bradford West was a safe seat, in ordinary UK Parliamentary understanding.

And George Galloway is a really terrible MP. Constituents invariably report that he’s always more interested in campaigning for himself than in representing them.

Diane Abbott makes a fair point:

but I would put Galloway’s win down to two factors.

One: His opposition. The Conservatives have just privatised the NHS, destroyed the 1948 welfare state, introduced a budget for the rich which included a tax cut for their own front bench, and started a petrol-buying panic to boost the economy figures for this quarter. The Liberal Democrats have obediently supported them in everything. Labour have managed to actively oppose only one element: the 20% tax on hot pasties.

Two: George Galloway is a really terrible MP but he is a really good campaigner. 18,341 people voted for him, and I am prepared to bet that every single one of them had heard him speak live in public in their area in the past three weeks. I’ve heard Galloway speak at any number of anti-war rallies in 2003, and while I got to hate his sexism and his repetitiveness, he can speak – he knows how to make a good speech, effectively hitting the key points. (Remember when he took on a US Senate committee who were accusing him of anti-American crimes and just rolled them up and walked off? Granted the House of Commons trains an MP how to argue on their feet and deal with opposition, but Galloway played them like cards.)

Labour and Conservatives will be slamming each other all week over which party’s failure was ultimately responsible for George Galloway being back in the House of Commons for the next three years.

But what Galloway’s victory should tell the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats and Labour is that the plan of 50 independent doctors standing in 2015 to destroy the Tory majority and take down the Liberal Democrats as a political party is really not impossible.

Sunny Hundal ran a guest blog in Liberal Conspiracy, with the misleading headline The doctors planning to run over the NHS would bolster Tories in which Mark Thompson argues, in effect, that George Galloway’s victory in Bradford West could not happen.

A party that wishes the status quo party system to remain in place of course wants to make it nigh on impossible for any upstarts in the political process to gain any traction and the threat of shoring up Labour’s opponent’s positions will likely be enough to kill this idea on the starting blocks.

What Sunny, Mark, and of course Lord Ashcroft were concern-trolling was the idea that if 50 candidates challenge the Tory and LibDem front-runners in constituencies where Labour is the third runner, this could somehow damage Labour’s majority in 2015.

But their argument is based on the comfortable Westminster notion that a rank outsider doesn’t stand a chance, no matter how hard he campaigns against mainstream parties.

But George Galloway is MP of Bradford West today.

In 2015, I’m sure the mainstream media and the Conservatives and LibDems will be arguing right down to four in the morning on election night that this just can’t happen.

Never does, never will, totally completely impossible the voters couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist-

Example one of George Galloway, the terrible MP:

All three tweets were sent from an iPhone, at 8:29. 8:32, and 9:03 am Saturday morning. Accidentally typing in Blackburn instead of Bradford, at 8:30 after a late night: not such a big deal. Claiming that this wasn’t Galloway typoing the name of his new constituency but er… oh… the dog ate my homework, the tyrannosaurus ate my iPhone…. SOMEONE HACKED MY PASSWORD. Oh sure.

At about quarter to four the same day Galloway deleted the typo’d tweet and claimed:


Filed under Elections

4 responses to “Bradford West: Respect

  1. georgewpotter1066

    Except, of course, that George Galloway is pretty much a one off politician who’s capable of one-off results – he pretty much carries his party in terms of winning high profile elections.

    I also doubt if he’d have been able to win the seat on a general election turn out – in those circumstances the tory candidate probably would have won thanks to Labour’s vote being split.

    • Oh, granted Galloway is a maverick. But I think all of the mainstream parties are seriously underestimating the value of on-the-street campaigning now. Social media and leafleting is easier to measure. Actual candidate walking around and talking to voters? That’s something immeasurable on the spot – but gets votes.

      I also doubt if he’d have been able to win the seat on a general election turn out – in those circumstances the tory candidate probably would have won thanks to Labour’s vote being split.

      Which is why the independent doctors campaign is planning to target constituencies where the front runners are Liberal Democrat and Conservative.

  2. juliusbeezer

    >(Remember when he took on a US Senate committee who were accusing >him of anti-American crimes and just rolled them up and walked off?

    I still go and watch his magnificent performance there on YouTube from time to time to cheer myself up. Senate p0wned! as they say on the internetz.

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