Following the ten point lead from ComRes yesterday tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 43%, LDEM 9%. This is the first time Labour have managed a double point lead from YouGov since March last year.

With any shift in the position in the polls it’s natural to look for an explanation, and there’s always a tendency to read what you want to see into the change. Far too often I see people in the comments here confidently ascribing any change in the polls to their own pet issue, or to what they’d most like the public to feel strongly about.

Right now we don’t really now what the cause is, though there are some obvious candidates. First we should consider the longer term trends – it’s always tempting to assume whatever has just happened explains movement, but remember there was already a trend towards Labour before the budget, be it the unwinding of the European “veto” effect, an improved performance by Ed Miliband or the increased prominence of the NHS as an issue.

Secondly there is are the issues in the budget, the two most unpopular being the 50p tax rate and the “granny tax”. Thirdly is the cash for access story that sprang up over the weekend. Fourthly there is the combined affect of all them, the culumulative image of a government in trouble you get when lots of bad news stories come all at once (take for example Labour’s “Black Wednesday” in April 2006 when they were hit with the foriegn prison scandal, John Prescott’s affair and Patricia Hewitt being heckled by nurses in a single day).

Right now we don’t really have enough evidence to judge by – you can’t ask people why they’ve changed their vote as most people are very poor at understanding or reporting their motivations. The best measure is proper tracking data on whether more people see the government as sleazy or corrupt, or close to the rich, or distant from pensioners than they did before. Hopefully that will come in time.

Personally my guess (and it’s not much more than a guess at this stage) is that the “granny tax” has done the most damage. Most people already saw the Conservatives as being more interested in the rich than people like themselves, and people have a low opinion on all the parties on issues of sleaze and favours for donors. In many ways these would only have confirmed and entrenched existing negative perceptions (the Pope does not suffer an anti-Catholic backlash when he talks about God, people tend to already see him as Catholic). However, in the past comparatively comfortable pensioners have been a bedrock of Conservative support – a tax hike specifically hitting a natural group of Conservative supporters who probably did see the Conservative party as one which looked out for people like them is liable to do damage… and lo and behold, in YouGov’s polls since the budget we’ve seen significantly lower Conservative leads in the over 60s break than we are used to (today the Conservatives have a six point lead amongst over 60s, better for them than yesterday, but before the budget double-point leads were the norm). That said there is never a single cause – I’m sure the other factors have made their own smaller contributions too.


592 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 33%, LAB 43%, LDEM 9%”

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  1. @SocalLiberal

    “Vote early, vote often.”

    This quote originates in fraudulent elections in Northern Ireland, when people would “personate” other voters, including voting on behalf of the deceased.

    For postal voting, multiple voting is much too easy. Registration of family members, or even completely fictitious people, as being resident when they aren’t. There are also suggestions that some houses have dozens of people registered.

    Of course, even if it turns out there has been widescale fraud, that isn’t to say that it was necessarily orchestrated by a particular campaign.

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  2. @ Old Nat

    “I may vote later – but I’ll talk to my son in the US first. I don’t know a lot of the names.”

    I’m not voting on all of them. Lol. Just the ones I like (or don’t like).

    Btw, yesterday I got into the oral arguments at the SCOTUS over Obamacare. Now it required getting up at 5 am, waiting for hours in the freezing cold (shivering at some points), and a little luck/completely random act of kindness of a stranger who was quasi-scalping but I got in. Totally worth it. Oh what a feeling it was to walk across that plaza with that little admission ticket, getting waived in by the police, going through the security, and realizing that I was actually getting in (despite all the conventional wisdom to the contrary). Pure joy.

    Of course it’s not pure joy to realize that the fate of Obama’s signature acheivement to bring the United States into the 21st (no, 20th) Century is relying on Beavis and Butthead to ignore their political leanings and actually do their jobs. In fact, it’s frightening. Imagine what Maggie Thatcher would be like as a judge and what she would do if she sat on a body with the power to strike down any of Scotland’s laws.

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  3. Amber

    Your logic is impeccable.

    If you win – that demonstrates that you fought. If you lost it’s because you didn’t get off your collective backsides.

    From that you conclude that you are the greatest election fighting machine.

    Drug companies use exactly that logic to sell dodgy products.

    I expect better from you.

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  4. GG elected

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  5. @ Robin

    “That level of postal vote registration is pretty much unheard of. Unfortunately, Bradford has a long history of voter fraud (several people were jailed a couple of elections ago).”

    That is unfortunate.

    In every election but for two, I have voted by mail. It’s nearly impossible for me to commit fraud with absentee voting and even if I did commit fraud, it really would be so minor as to not impact the results. In two states that were once part of your imperial territory, Oregon and Washington, elections are conducted entirely by mail.

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  6. 10,140 majority. Frightening !!!

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  7. @ Peter Bell

    Boooooooo!! Boooooo!! Yes, I’m jeering (I don’t know how else to jeer online). :(

    I’m surprised by this. Wasn’t Galloway’s popularity driven by Iraq? That’s a non-issue now I thought (at least in Britain). Or does he just have a group of voters that enjoys turning out to vote for him no matter what and make a difference for him in a low turnout election.

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  8. @ Old Nat

    Anybody who ‘expects better of me’ is sure to be disappointed one of these days :razz:

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  9. OK, some relief that postal votes seem highly unlikely to have made any difference. Good news.

    But WTF? Labour share of vote down by nearly half. Con share down by 3/4. LD down by 3/5 (not such a surprise).

    There’s quite clearly been substantial Tory switches to GG. He’s gained 17k votes compared to 2010, and a maximum of 10k of them came from Labour (probably less in view of the reduced turnout) . The Con switchers might even have been enough to swing it for GG.

    Bizarre.

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  10. @ Robin

    “This quote originates in fraudulent elections in Northern Ireland, when people would “personate” other voters, including voting on behalf of the deceased.

    For postal voting, multiple voting is much too easy. Registration of family members, or even completely fictitious people, as being resident when they aren’t. There are also suggestions that some houses have dozens of people registered.

    Of course, even if it turns out there has been widescale fraud, that isn’t to say that it was necessarily orchestrated by a particular campaign.”

    I thought the expression originated in Chicago. Or Louisiana. Voting fraud usually involves ballot stuffing or manipulating vote counting software. I mean vote fraud by people individually registering fictitious people and voting more than once, it’s going to have a small impact.

    When you cast a postal vote? Don’t you have to write down your address on the back of the envelope as well as the date and sign your name underneath an affadavit that you have not previously voted in the election? Also, don’t precincts have lists of registered voters. Wouldn’t they get updated lists on election day of who’s already voted? And when you mail in an absentee ballot, wouldn’t you have to be a registered voter to be counted? And wouldn’t the ballot be checked against the list of those who voted during the day? Don’t you take down the names or cross off the names of those voters who have already voted?

    I mean, this is all very basic stuff.

    Of course, I’m in no position to lecture. Not with the healthcare arguments this week. Do Brits, with your NHS, look at teabaggers screaming about “freedom” and wonder if Americans are all a bunch of idiots? I mean, it reminds me of Samuel Johnson’s comment that the loudest yelps of freedom came from slave owners.

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  11. “He’s gained 17k votes compared to 2010, and a maximum of 10k of them came from Labour.” Not necessarily so, there may have been quite a bit of Con-Lab switching for the reasons I outlined earlier.

    I’ve just checked and the turnout was only 8000 fewer than in the general election.

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  12. Not low turnout, turnout was pretty high for a by-election at 50%. Seems to be a collapse in support for all three main parties, in Bradford. Galloway seems to have gained support by taking up grievances about the Labour council; perhaps the Conservative vote (which was always surprisingly high here for a northern city) was simply anti-Labour – amazingly, it seems to have mostly gone over to Galloway.

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  13. @ Old Nat

    “It largely referred to “personation” – casting the votes for other people. Frequently the election officials knew perfectly well that this was happening – but the votes being cast were for “their” side of the sectarian divide.

    Not all the electors were capable of casting their votes anyway (having been dead for many years). I encountered that practice in Ayrshire 30 years ago – though things have improved significantly.

    You will know how the literacy test was abused by election officials in the American South before the law was tightened up.”

    I always find that shame since we place trust in elections officials to do their jobs properly. Democracy can’t function if elections are not properly run. And even the most partisan and politically active of election officials know that they have to put aside their partisan leanings in order to do their job properly.

    The laws weren’t tightened up so much as they were thrown out. And they weren’t used to commit electoral fraud so much as they were to keep blacks from voting. And also Latinos and Asians too. My grandfather reportedly had to take a literacy test in California in order to register to vote when he moved there in the late 1940′s.

    A lot of these new voting restrictions that Teabaggers are introducing in state legislatures are designed to replicate literacy tests, poll taxes, and the like. The Obama DOJ has blocked a few of them but really has not been aggressive enough in blocking them. Some of the laws have been enjoined by courts or repealed by voters.

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  14. @SoCal

    Here’s the prototypical example of the fraudulent postal vote phenomenon, from 2005:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/councillors-guilty-of-postal-votes-fraud-that-would-shame-a-banana-republic-531213.html

    And here from 2009 and 2010:
    h ttp://www.sundaymercury.net/news/midlands-news/2009/09/19/postal-vote-fraud-rocks-birmingham-by-election-in-sparkbrook-65233-24725542/

    h ttp://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/two-ex-councillors-jailed-for-bradford-postal-votes-fraud-1-2588030

    Another example from Bradford West itself in 2005:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/sep/06/men-jailed-attempted-postal-vote-fraud

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  15. @ Robin

    “But WTF? Labour share of vote down by nearly half. Con share down by 3/4. LD down by 3/5 (not such a surprise).

    There’s quite clearly been substantial Tory switches to GG. He’s gained 17k votes compared to 2010, and a maximum of 10k of them came from Labour (probably less in view of the reduced turnout) . The Con switchers might even have been enough to swing it for GG.

    Bizarre.”

    Agreed. Why would Tory voters vote for Galloway?

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  16. “Why would Tory voters vote for Galloway?”

    To try to give Labour a bloody nose. After all, Respect and Galloway are irrelevant in the greater scheme of things, and the Tory candidate was never going to win. This is not that unusual. At Oldham and Saddleworth a fair number of LibDems voted UKIP – just as bizarre in its way.

    In the past the Liberals/LibDems were the usual beneficiary of this sort of vote. Now they’re part of government, the protest vote will go elsewhere.

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  17. “Why would Tory voters vote for Galloway?”

    Many people misunderstand voting in the UK. People vote as much AGAINST a party a they do for one. Last election I voted LD in an attempt to keep the Tories out. I have no love for the Lib Dems but it was an anti Tory vote.

    Lots of so called Tory and Lab voters are really anit-Lab and anti-Con votes. Look at Scotland. People who might have voted Con once upon a time vote SNP…is it becuase they all want independence?

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  18. nickp

    Lots of so called Tory and Lab voters are really anit-Lab and anti-Con votes. Look at Scotland. People who might have voted Con once upon a time vote SNP…is it becuase they all want independence
    .
    ___________

    Or people who might have voted SNP in the past now vote Labour!!..Is it because they want to keep the Union?

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  19. It’s an amazing result.

    Will it feed into a larger narrative? Come May, what will we see at Mayoral and other elections?

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  20. “Why would Tory voters vote for Galloway?”

    Because they are also opposed to the war in Afghanistan?

    I know we have our stereotypes but in Bradford West – with a high Muslim population, a Tory voter is more likely to have been an Asian small business owner than the stereotype Tory voter. In fact the last Tory candidate was from the Asian community.

    So if Respect – and I think it is really a victory for the radical party on the ground rather than GG himself – has persuaded voters to put the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terror at the top of the agenda, they will have pulled votes from a wide variety of parties.

    On top of this there is differential turnout – it was a 50% poll so 20ish% down from 2010 – more of these might have been disaffected Tories

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  21. 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%)

    Neil Craig (Democratic Nationalists) 344 (1.05%)

    Howling Laud Hope (Monster Raving Loony Party) 111 (0.34%)

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  22. Makes you wonder what effect the Save the NHS doctors could have if they stand in the next election or any by-elections.

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  23. The narratives on this are going to be fun. But I have a theory.. perhaps George Galloway, wait for it – this is radical, listened to the concerns of the people of Bradford-West and they voted for the candidate that addressed those concerns.

    What will come out of this, I think, is calls for Ed M to step down (despite George Galloway’s support for Ed) because he’s unpopular (which to be fair, is true) and too left-wing (despite the socialist respect party and GG being far to the left of Labour) and I have a feeling that they will be successful, given the unpopularity of Ed (from both Blairites and the left).

    I suspect that they won’t take the lesson from this and that is.. listen to those who’d be willing to vote for you, rather than chasing down electoral myths.

    And I suspect if Ed goes, the party will push hard for a Tory-lite candidate of the Labour authoritarian-right and that will completely secure Tory victory in 2015.

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  24. Big disappointment for Labour in Bradford…Will this turn the media tide for the government?

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  25. What a terrible day.

    What to make of it though? My thoughts are that this is likely to be more an anti-politician vote than anything else – all political parties have been equally shafted.

    In 2010 and 2011 Respect demonstrated that it is little more than a vehicle for Galloway. They lost most of their remaining Councillors and did badly in the GE. Salma Yaqoob, by far their best politician, hasn’t been able to make a breakthrough. Even in their Birmingham heartland they have been in retreat. What does that leave them? Galloway and his celebrity.

    @Tingedfringe – I don’t for a minute believe that people are voting for Galloway because he has listened to their concerns. That isn’t the way he works. And for that matter it tends not to be the way that voters work (whoever they’re voting for: look at polls where people try and identify which positions are related to which political parties).

    There is a long history of this type of candidate in the UK though – look back to the radicals of the 1800s (Cochrane, Cobbett etc).

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  26. @SoCalLiberal

    There is very little evidence for wide scale electoral fraud in the UK. It’s raised by both sides from time to time, but actually the number of votes involved tends to be less than the normal counting errors involved in elections (lost ballot boxes are surprisingly common).

    Of the three main voting mechanisms, postal voting has received the most attention after it was made easier in the 90s. Prior to that you had to have a clear reason for a postal vote, after that anyone could ask for one, both on a one off and a continuing basis. This was intended to increase turnout (it did). It also meant that political parties could run campaigns to get their voters to use postal votes, because they know that there is much more chance of an elector voting if they can do it by post.

    Critics often say that postal voting is open to fraud, whilst ignoring the fact that the other two methods have very low degrees of protection. Voting in person simply requires you to walk up to your polling station and say “I’m Mr X and I live at Y”. No evidence is required. Proxy voting requires you to say “I’m Mr X, and I’m voting as a proxy for Mr Z”.

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  27. GG has one policy and one policy only and goes to those areas where he knows that that policy is supported. Does anyone think that if he was to stand in a safe Labour seat with a small Muslim population he would win? Because he wouldnt

    He his lauded as both a celebrity and a heavyweight of British politics who supports a certain policy.

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  28. How to spin?

    well you could claim that 81% voted for the left. Possibaly the highest ever left wing vote in the UK.

    You could claim that once you strip out the “new” Respect voters and take only those who would normally vote in a by election of this sort say about 30% Labour increased its majority in % terms over the Tories and hence won the seat!

    With that much spin I am awaiting a call up for the second test to repace Swann!

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  29. @SoCal
    Here’s the prototypical example of the fraudulent postal vote phenomenon, from 2005:

    h ttp://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/councillors-guilty-of-postal-votes-fraud-that-would-shame-a-banana-republic-531213.html

    And here from 2009 and 2010:

    h ttp://www.sundaymercury.net/news/midlands-news/2009/09/19/postal-vote-fraud-rocks-birmingham-by-election-in-sparkbrook-65233-24725542/

    h ttp://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/two-ex-councillors-jailed-for-bradford-postal-votes-fraud-1-2588030

    Another example from Bradford West itself in 2005:

    h ttp://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/sep/06/men-jailed-attempted-postal-vote-fraud

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  30. GG won this election from the left. There is a current political fad to.convince the public that there is no future in left-wing ideas, but in certain areas there obviously is.

    Bradford has significant local factors, not just the high Muslim population but the power structures within the Labour Party – with most of the local Party being controlled by Mirpuri elders. It also did not help that Labour believed that they could succeed by using these structures to pusuade local imams (also largely Mirpuri) to get the message out after prayers.

    Younger people resent being told to vote Labour no matter what. They tend ti believe that a politician should be judged by what they do, not how good they are to the local bigwigs.

    In addition Galloway was successful all over the constituency – Muslim or non-Muslim due to his old Labour views and charismatic oratory. He won 56% of the votw where the Muslim population is only.avout 35%. If anything this was a rejection of Labour, but also of the fact that no national politician is really addressing the needs of the poorest.

    It reminded my of the GE campaign in India a few years ago, when the BJP ran with a slogan along the lines of “India is booming”, only to be rejected at the polls by poor Indians for whon India was far from.booming.

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  31. I don’t know why people knock George Galloway. Yes he has ruffled a few feathers, with his opposition to western intervention policies, but it is always good to have contrasting views. There are many in Labour and some within both the Tories and Liberals, who share similar views in regard to Afghanistan.

    GG has become more moderate over the years and actually he makes quite a lot of sense, with some of the views he expresses. I suspect that over the next few years he will use his election as MP to promote these views and I would not be surprised if he did not stand at the election. He seems to use these elections as a platform to campaign on a few issues and then likes to move on.

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  32. Big smile on the face of George Osborne yesterday, dispite his recent troubles.

    Just listening to the local radio… one man was queuing behind an Aston Martin – filled the right-hand tank, filled the left-hand tank: £460 for one car.

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  33. @ Tinged

    What will come out of this, I think, is calls for Ed M to step down (despite George Galloway’s support for Ed)….
    —————————–
    I doubt it; I mean obviously the Tories & Libdems will say Ed should step down but, if GG won on a ticket of saying he supports Ed & Labour, then that’s hardly a disaster for Ed.

    Obviously, I’m not happy about Labour losing the seat. But it is not down to Ed. Labour should have worked harder to win the seat.
    8-)

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  34. Well let us hope that tinged fringes doom laden prophecy
    does not come true.The papers across the board today
    leading on the fuel crisis.I suspect people will be more
    concerned with putting fuel in their cars than the results of
    a by election.

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  35. @Amber:

    http://labour-uncut.co.uk/2012/03/30/is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-ed-miliband/

    Here’s the first salvo. Run from the perspective of “I suspect that…”, but is clearly a direct attack.

    @Ann Miles:

    I doubt it. The Telegraph, Sun et al are quite happy to frustrate Cameron when his position isn’t so bad, but now he’s behind, they won’t miss a chance to almbast Labour.

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  36. I suppose this shows us once again we are not in the past anymore, a lot has changed since we had a straight choice between left and right, now the waters are much muddied. Where would we be if AV had come to pass?

    There was me thinking the next minor party (“others”) to gain a seat might be UKIP. It’s just that they don’t have the personalities to concentrate votes in one place, which FPTP demands if you are a small party. Perhaps their influence will continue to be draining votes and denying the Conservatives an OM for a while.

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  37. Top hat,in my experience people usually put their own
    immediate concerns before politics,particularly a by
    election that did not reflect well on all the major parties.

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  38. Mmm lots of nonsense going on about Bradford. If Labour really didn’t try in 2010, given that there was a swing from Conservative to Labour of 2.9%, they must have all been campaigning hard for the Conservatives elsewhere in the country. A turnout of 50% isn’t particularly high for a byelection. The last one in the North West was Oldham and Saddleworth E with 48% and Crewe and Nantwich before that had a turnout of 58%.

    I don’t know if there are separate figures kept for how many postal votes are returned – certainly no more official figures than that would be compiled. Any assessment of how the postal vote was cast would be informal from any Party representatives there – no day by day tallies would be kept. I think no postal votes are actually opened till the day of the election in any case.

    The main risk with the laxer postal voting rules brought in by Labour was always seen as what you might call the ‘patriarch problem’. The danger was thought to be that in traditionalist Asian[1] families, the father or grandfather would instruct the rest of the family how to vote and possibly watching while they did so or even filling in the ballot for them. In addition votes might be used for family members out of the country or even this world.

    But Galloway’s campaign was directed against the claimed role of “bradree” (an Urdu word denoting a hierarchical system of clan politics) in the area’s local politics, particularly the local Labour party (Wiki). Bradree was seen as powerful because the vast majority of the Asian community in Bradford originated from Mirpur in Kashmir, so local connections were strong, especially among the older generations, and Labour’s candidate was seen as representing this. So if the ‘patriarch problem’ was much in evidence then it should have helped Labour not Respect.[2].

    In fact what seems to have happened in Bradford West includes a reaction against the influences of ‘bradree’ by the younger generation (and women?) as well as the non-Mirpur majority (from memory only about 38% of the constituency was even Asian in the 2001 Census) coupled with the general disillusion with politics as shown in the polls and discussed last night. There was also local anger at the way Bradford Council has been run. This would be directed at all main Parties – Bradford has had no overall control since 2000.

    None of this will stop the media and Westminster bubble treating this as being about Labour or Miliband or whatever they think it should be about – basically about themselves and their own preoccupations. I’ve just watched a BBC Westminster correspondent on News 24 do exactly this – immediately after a rebroadcast of Galloway’s victory speech. The BBC official line seems to be that the result is simultaneously important when it shows Labour in trouble and unimportant because the circumstances there are unique (in which case surely Labour aren’t in trouble, except in Bradford). It’s all pretty poor stuff and the sad truth is that few on other channels or elsewhere in the media are any better because they are afraid to step outside the group-think – indeed unaware that they can.

    [1] I’m sure I don’t need to tell SoCal this, but for any other passing Yanks, in British terms this means originating from the Indian Subcontinent – mainly India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

    [2] The Bradford postal vote fraud in Hannah’s helpful references was actually carried out by the Conservatives, possibly because they felt that Labour had this unfair advantage.

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  39. I don’t think Bradford changes anything really. It’s an atypical seat so I don’t think much can be read into it.

    Anthony: you need to amend the “Labour Majority” figure to “59″.

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  40. Sorry, I’ve just realised that two of those links are for the same case.

    @Roger Mexico.

    The 38% figure is from 2001. There may well have been significant demographic shifts including further segregation since then.

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  41. Davem: “well you could claim that 81% voted for the left. Possibaly the highest ever left wing vote in the UK.”

    Not even close. Just back in 1997, Labour took 82.9% of the vote in Bootle on their own, and 84.0% went to the left.

    Depending on which parties you count as being on the left, the recent Belfast West by-election had anywhere up to 91.7% of votes going to the left (SF+SDLP+People Before Profit).

    The Blaenau Gwent by-election in 2006 had 83.7% going to the independent winner plus Labour, and 90.2% to the left if you count Plaid Cymru.

    But the highest share of all would be something like the Poplar South by-election, 1942, where both candidates were from the left, meaning 100% of the vote.

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  42. Hannah

    Agreed that the Census data is old, but the 2011 aren’t out yet and I’m not sure more modern reliable figures exist (and too lazy to look properly). Segregation does seem to be a worse problem in Bradford than elsewhere – note how the councillors tend to be all White or all Asian depending on ward – but that’s not to say it’s getting worse, though other demographic feature could be affected.

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