+++ Labour crashes to sensational Bradford West by-election defeat to George Galloway

In a sensational result, George Galloway has won the Bradford West by-election for the Respect party. The former Glasgow and east London MP secured victory with more than half the votes cast, and a majority of more than 10,000.

The result will be a body blow for Labour leader Ed Miliband, who had appeared to have the Tories on the defensive in the past 10 days over the ‘Granny tax’, the resignation of Tory treasurer Peter Cruddas, and so-called #pastygate.

But none of these were enough to stop Labour losing a previously safe seat, though they will take some small consolation that both the Tories’ and Lib Dems’ vote shares also plunged. Lib Dem candidate Jeanette Sunderland came fourth, and the party narrowly lost its deposit.

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%)

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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  • Alex Macfie 30th Mar '12 - 7:08am

    George Galloway (Respect) 18,341 (55.89%, +52.83%)
    Howling Laud Hope (Loony) 111 (0.34%)
    The wrong raving loony’s won!

  • Labour List 28th March “Regardless of the mitigating circumstances, Labour needs a win tomorrow. Anything else would be disastrous for the party – and for Ed Miliband especially – heading into recess.” Say no more.

  • I’m no fan of Galloway, but his election points to the fact that the electorate aren’t just fed up with the coalition but the neo-liberal consensus of the last 33 years. It’s the same reason the SNP do so well, etc. People are fed up with mainstream parties with their identical policies of attacking public services and protecting the corporate cronies in the private sector that have brought the country to its knees. Labour are well ahead in the polls at the moment, yet they suffer this kind of defeat. It’s a clear signal to them that they need to be a bit more left wing to actually win even more votes. That’s how the mood of the country is swinging. The liberals are propping up an unpopular government at the end of a period of consensus. Again.

  • Nice to see you guys celebrating a Labour defeat. Hope you’re not missing the main point of only 12.8% of people voting for the coalition parties.

    A lost deposit in an anti war , university seat in a city with 1 Lib Dem Mp points to your parties obliteration in the north and Scotland , you can’t rely on Labour tactical votes in Tory Lib Dem marginals any more . Looking a bit bleak for you guys really .
    Still it’s a bad day for Ed Miliband eh so alls right with the world

  • What cannot be denied, despite headlines about “Labour being humiliated”, is that Labour lost just under half their vote share, Lib Dems around two thirds, and Tories nearly three quarters. In addition we lost our deposit (in a seat as pointed out above which is next to a Lib Dem held seat, and with Jeannette Sunderland as candidate – a very experienced campaigner with wide links across the party). It cannot be denied that had we not been involved in the political “project” we are now, we would have taken many of the anti establishment votes which clearly went to “Gorgeous George”, and had a lot more than bluster available to back up a potential Lib Dem victory here. I leave the powers that be in the party to mull over some rather obvious conclusions. This result, of course, comes on the back of a series of By election failures over this Parliament.

  • Bloody nose for Labour.

    Tim – much better being in government doing things than getting exciting but ultimately impotent by-election wins by being anti-establishment. No mileage in that because its self-defeating; sooner or later you will be the establishment.

  • Jayne Mansfield 30th Mar '12 - 9:16am

    The anti-war vote should have gone to the Liberal democrats. What happened?

  • Bill le Breton 30th Mar '12 - 9:24am

    Shock – campaigner wins election

  • JM – Iraq is finished; Afghanistan will be by the end of this parliament. Labour’s military interventions are no longer a major issue. Galloway milks nihilistic disaffection and crass identity politics without offering anything positive.

  • “The anti-war vote should have gone to the Liberal democrats. What happened?”

    1. Libya

    2. The Lib Dems are in a coalition with the party that gave most support to the invasion of Iraq.

  • Bill le Breton 30th Mar '12 - 9:51am

    Tabman, his success is a symptom and a signal to us. Liberal Democracy is opposed to coagulations of power – it is anti-establishment where the establishment is out of touch, unrepresentative, arrogant, and where it protects vested interests. You can campaign against that within a coalition. In fact it is the ideal place. You campaign hard and vociferously against abuse of power, win the argument, introduce the policy and deliver change.

  • Keith Browning 30th Mar '12 - 9:53am

    …… or it might just be a protest vote and two fingers in the air to the politicians who have made themselves look ridiculous over the last few days and months. Maybe if in the next by-election the local sub-postmistress stands and gets 50% of the vote then reality might finally hit home to those in the Westminster bubble.

    Pasties, hot or cold, petrol stored in cans the spare room and dinner with the PM for £250k. The world has gone made.

    Plague on all your houses is what the voters are saying and who will be next to voice the same sentiments.

  • Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera 30th Mar '12 - 9:57am

    The reality is that Bradford West was, until “Gorgeous George” demonstrated an interest, a guaranteed Labour win, hopefully with the Liberal Democrats in second place, but alas we were beaten into fourth place behind the Tories.

    As a Party we would benefit from realising that to many BME communities we are still not the Party of choice, and there is a need to start to demonstrate through our partnership in the Coalition that we are inclusive, and committed in real terms to ‘Building a fairer Britain’. BME communities are only too used to hearing fine rhetoric,such as we have recently read within the vacuous ‘Pickles’ integration strategy, but what will win such communities over is meaningful action that benefits them.

  • Andrew Suffield 30th Mar '12 - 10:38am

    You campaign hard and vociferously against abuse of power, win the argument, introduce the policy and deliver change.

    Which is what the party’s doing, but it is inevitably going to lose votes because not every fight can be won.

  • Paul McKeown 30th Mar '12 - 10:50am

    I’m with Keith Browning on this one: it’s a two-fingered salute to all three main parties in an election which was never actually going to change anything. Bad luck to Jeanette Sunderland. I hope George Galloway actually grows up for once in his life and works on behalf of his constituents, but I won’t hold my breath.

  • Jayne Mansfield 30th Mar '12 - 11:07am

    @ Tabman – there are reports that it was the young who turned out in great numbers and gave their support to Galloway.

    If so, this is a terrible indictment of all the major parties.

    In a healthy society the young should not be vulnerable to the blandishments of someone like George Galloway.

  • Hardly just a ‘bloody nose’ for Labour.
    As Tabman wrote, “Galloway milks nihilistic disaffection and crass identity politics without offering anything positive.
    Galloway shamelessly targetted one section of the community, portraying himself as “the real Muslim’ candidate .On such a ‘single issue’ 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. “

  • Richard Dean 30th Mar '12 - 12:32pm

    George is not too good on delivering for constituents, but very good at blaming others for failure. Bradford West is therefore a potential LibDem gain in 2015, but only if we avoid all the traps that he will set for us!

  • Richard Dean 30th Mar '12 - 1:11pm

    @James. Perhaps this is one of the traps. Do you have evidence to support your assertion?

  • David Evans 30th Mar '12 - 4:35pm


    “Bradford West is therefore a potential LibDem gain in 2015”

    I’d like to see any evidence at all to support that assertion; I would put it straight onto my Focus!

  • Richard Dean 30th Mar '12 - 5:04pm

    @David. It’s not an assertion. The clue is in the word “therefore”. It’s a bit of logic. If George has problems delivering, then any assistance we can give him will be in our faviour in 2015. If he does not deliver even so, a competent LibDem campaign should be able to use that failure as part of their argument to persuade voters to switch..

  • Richard DeanMar 30 – 5:04 pm………………[email protected] It’s not an assertion. The clue is in the word “therefore”. It’s a bit of logic. If George has problems delivering, then any assistance we can give him will be in our faviour in 2015. If he does not deliver even so, a competent LibDem campaign should be able to use that failure as part of their argument to persuade voters to switch.

    Such a conclusion must mean, ‘therefore’, that LibDems will ‘sweep the board’ in 2010.
    We lost our deposit, Labour polled >8K votes. If Galloway fails to deliver, the disenchanted will not vote for either coalition partner (they blame the coalition for their situation), they’ll return to Labour.
    It’s not logic it’s fantasy..

  • Richard Dean 30th Mar '12 - 6:46pm

    @Jason. So the comment about Iran was just pontification was it? No evidence whastoever that Bradford West voters would disapprove of miltary action to prevent a nuclear arms race in that part of the world? I have no idea whether they would or wouldn’t, but if a party want to build policies to win, they need to be based on more than guesswork.

  • Fair play to the West Bradford voters. They can see that the three main parties are elitist, London-centric organisations that are in hoc to their wealthy donors. The three main parties peddle a neo-liberal economic view that results in the low-paid and the vulnerable being at the mercy of market forces. The three main parties seem keen on pursuing unpopular foreign wars (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and soon Iran) whilst being happy to deal with despotic regimes when it suits them (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, China). This might be the beginning of a “British Spring” in which the three main parties start to suffer terribly for their failure to focus on helping the working poor and the vulnerable. Good stuff. Keep voting, people of Britain. If your local cancidate seems to feel he/she owes more to his/her party leaders than to his constituents then vote him/her out! I don’t agree with all of George Galloways views but his understanding of the views of the mass of the British people and his analysis of the hypocrisy of British foreign policy far exceeds other well-known politicians at present.

  • Richard Dean 31st Mar '12 - 12:04am

    It seems that some voters were more than just disillusioned, they may have been positively offended by mainstream campaigns and campaigners. On TV tonight George rejects the concept of “the Muslim vote”, saying in effect that the concept is racist and an insult to the individuality of people. Other interviews seemed to suggest that people feel that some of the demographic categorizations used by the press are offensive and wrong.

  • Patrick Smith 31st Mar '12 - 7:35pm

    `Georgeous George’ as he was dubbed on his fondness for the ladies, is a `political maverick’ and `loose cannon’ and in Bradford West seen as a repository of `protest votes’ in a typical mid-term By-Election : that usually goes against the incumbent Government. I believe that this electorate will revert to type and has real potential for a new L/D hard-working MP- in the mould of David Ward MP in 2015 : a positive mover for local community works,jobs for youngsters and delivery of `Youth Contract’ and new shopping centre is required rather than a media obsessed celebratory/politician.

    Clearly the voters of Bradford West have opted for a `protest vote’ that shows up salutary Labour neglect in what ought to have been a heartland where they weigh rather than count the vote.

  • Jayne Mansfield 31st Mar '12 - 8:01pm

    @Stephen Tall

    Stephen, I am somewhat perplexed when you suggest that Ed Milband appeared to have the Tories on the defensive over the last ten days on issues such as the ‘granny tax’ and ‘pastygate’.

    Why only the Tories? This is a Coalition Government of Conservatives andLiberal Democrats. Indeed, there are Liberal Democrats who are happy to defend the ‘granny tax’ just as Sarah Tetheron Question Time was happy to defend the tax on pasties.

    As far as the chaos on the forecourts is concerned, Ed Davey made as big a prat of himself as Francis Maude with his inconsistent advice. Sarah Teather on Question Time added to the belief that the Liberal Democrats are unable to mount a coherent argument on the matter.

    I’m sorry Stephen, but as a life long Lib Dem voter, ( a Green voter at one election) , the Liberal Democrats involvement in government has had a really negative effect on the party. I realise that was the opposite of what was hoped for, but the party is not even credited with the raising of the threshold for taxation.

    I really think that you need to own up to the fact that your party is the current government. Bills like the NHS and Social care bill are passed because of this.

  • Jayne Mansfield 31st Mar '12 - 8:38pm

    Am I alone in feeling that the racist undertones that support so many analyses of George Galloway’s. success are distasteful? No Criticism of LDV posters here.

    The Muslim majority areas chose a white, RC Scot rather than a Muslim Pakistani with parentage from Mirpur, the poor area of Pakistan from which 70% of Bradford Pakistanis are estimated to originate. There seems to be a failure to acknowledge that George Galloway also won in majority in some white majority areas.

    What is a BME? Would posters please not assume that people like me understand your abbreviations.

    Might the protest vote be one against the power exercised by the current (and past), government that has increased feelings of powerlessness and despair? Perhaps the poor, the marginalised,and the discriminated against , rightly or wrongly, just wanted someone who they thought was on their side.

  • Richard Dean 31st Mar '12 - 8:53pm

    BME = Black and Ethnic Minority. Google says so. Yes, I hear those undertones too.

  • Malcolm Todd 31st Mar '12 - 8:54pm

    @Jayne — “BME” is “black & minority ethnic”, a very awkward acronym that is well known in government and political circles but meaningless to almost everyone else.

  • What concerns me, as a Liberal Democrat, is the comment that appeared in this week’s Lib Dem News article entitled “Jeannete says ‘thank you'” in which George Galloway was dismissed as “…essentially he served as a curiosity rather than a serious candidate”.

    This appears to imply that, despite all our claims of new and effective technology that analyses canvass data etc, on the ground we had no idea how the campaign was progressing! Did we really have no hint of what was happening?

    So I am now looking forward to the Lib Dem analysis of the quality of our campaign and the lessons to learn from this result…….

  • “What concerns me, as a Liberal Democrat, is the comment that appeared in this week’s Lib Dem News article entitled “Jeannete says ‘thank you’” in which George Galloway was dismissed as “…essentially he served as a curiosity rather than a serious candidate”.”

    Or Lib Dem News was basically carrying the party spin on a message (which seems far more likely.

    It would have made no tactical sense to run a piece saying “blimey – this guy is doing really well – looks like he might win” just so it could be quoted by our opponents in the last 48 hours!

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