YouGov’s daily poll last night showed the Labour lead holding steady at ten points, as it has all this week. Full topline figures are CON 34%, LAB 44%, LDEM 8%.

Last night we also had the Bradford West by-election, which produced a startling result. George Galloway won relatively easily with a huge swing from the other parties (Labour’s vote collapsed, but so did the Conservative and Lib Dem vote). I’m always wary of writing too much about by-elections here – afterwards people already try to work out what they say about the national picture when the answer is nearly always “not much”. By-elections are strange beasts, volatile elections fought with absurdly high levels of party activity yet which elect only a single MP with no immediate impact on who runs the country.

This one is so obviously a unusual case we can at least be spared people trying to extrapolate something about the national picture from it. That doesn’t mean, of course, that it won’t have any impact. There may be Labour ructions about losing a solid Labour seat (albeit, in very unusual circumstances). The government will hope that it takes pasties and petrol off the front pages for a bit.

Another thought is that while Bradford West in an highly unusual seat in many ways, and the result here is not likely to be reproduced in many other seats, one seat that does have a similarly high level of Muslim voters is Birmingham Hodge Hill, the seat of Liam Byrne who may be resigning to stand as Birmingham mayor if he wins the Labour nomination. Obviously George Galloway himself couldn’t stand there, but a by-election in Hodge Hill may still be looking somewhat less attractive to Labour.

UPDATE: Just because various people have asked me: no, I’m not aware of any polling of Bradford West before the by-election.


371 Responses to “Bradford West by-election”

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  1. @AW @Roger Mexico

    I think you’re both slightly confused: Sir Albert isn’t currently leader of the Council, he’s leader of the opposition (although to be fair many people in Birmingham still don’t understand that the Council is run by a coalition of the Tories and LibDems).

    However he will be up against the actual leader of the Council, Mike Whitby, in the actual election. Mike is not a prominent Labour figure.

  2. Anthony sorry – you’re right I was relying on old news about Bore. That said the actual Leader of the Council, the Conservative Mike Whitby, seems to be being strong-armed by CCHQ into standing.

    Meanwhile according to the Birmingham Post (sidebars are so distracting) the Con-LD coalition that has been running Birmingham for the last eight years is not only de-privatising the bins but putting £10,000 towards the cost of a rhinestone-encrusted model of a rhinoceros to mark the entry to the city’s Gay Village. As you do. (Imagine the fuss in the Press if it had been a Labour council)

  3. Had Labour won,the pressure on the government would have been immense given the almost comical way it is being run,but the loss has acted as a release valve stopping an explosion

    But it is interesting that the press are continuing to focus on the Fuel issue whilst giving fairly limited coverage for the Bradford loss…Looks like they want to keep the pressure on the government…I think someone higher up in the media or Tory party has decided that with the current leadership,the Tory party are not going to win,no matter how vullnerable Ed is

  4. Mike Hartley.

    ‘This has in part been fostered by a slightly misguided approach to multiculturalism on the Left, that has perhaps been overprotective of cultural difference even where it impacts upon traditional social demoncratic ideals like social solidarity.’

    I don’t accept this characterisation. It isn’t a questoin of ‘overprotectiveness’. What does that imply? That the left have gone too far in defending people who shouldn’t be defended? What is the alternative to standing in solidarity with Muslims under attack? Siding with the attackers and warmongers?

    The left’s perception has been that as a justiffication for the Iraq war, the whole Muslim community was subjected to a vile political intimidation and hounding in the media. Our view is based on history and how absolutely necessary it is to defend any minority from persecution.

    I refute the idea that this goes counter to social democracy, except that social democracy has usually been far too timid in standing up against far-right divisiveness. It is the heart and soul of socialism and solidarity to stand with those being threatened by our rulers.

  5. An interesting question going forward, assuming the boundary review in Bradford is as initially proposed, is which of the new Bradford seats does GG go for?
    There are four, previously heavily Labour, heavily Asian, wards that presumably formed the bedrock of the Respect surge. These are the Heaton, Toller, City and Manningham wards, with Toller and Manningham exceptionally so in the locals last year (Labour 70-80%). Under the provisional boundary recommendations these four wards are split across two seats.
    The Heaton and Toller wards go into the ‘new’ Bradford West (which Anthony has as a notional Tory gain). Three other wards which voted last night; Clayton, Thornton and Queensbury are also in the new seat. Last year in the locals Clayton was 50%+ for Labour, Q’bury went BNP and Thornton was marginally Tory. This new seat is completed by the Tory stronghold of Bingley Rural (60%), and Shipley which went Green last year with Labour 2nd. If yesterday’s dynamic was still in play in 2015 I think GG would have a very decent shot at winning this new seat.
    The City and Manningham wards go into the new Bradford Central & East seat. The other five wards in this new seat did not vote last night. One was LibDem last year, the other four were all Labour two of which have significant Asian populations. On balance, this would seem to be the seat that GG will plump for.

  6. @Mikems

    “The left’s perception has been that as a justiffication for the Iraq war, the whole Muslim community was subjected to a vile political intimidation and hounding in the media. ”

    It seems that you are discounting any post 9/11 vilification in order to make your case that the wrongs of the world started with the Iraq war.

    I do think it’s fair to say that the position of the left (unless of course you characterise it in a specific Trotskyite vein) has traditionally been divided over issues such as gay and minority rights. Are they a distraction from the class struggle? How do we deal with minority practices that are anti-egalitarian? How do we deal with intolerance from a position of tolerance?

  7. @RayfromtheNorth

    Very good question. Has GG decided if he will stand more than once (remember the decision to stand only once in Bow)?

  8. @ The Sheep

    Apparently he has already said he will run again “in Bradford”

  9. @ MIKEMS

    You imply that Labour are responsible for postal voting fraud, yet reports suggest that George Galloway won by a larger margin in the postal vote section. So this would suggest Respect may have been responsible for postal vote fraud, does it not?

    I agree with you about standing in solidarity with Muslims and other minorities who are under attack. Indeed, the anti-fascist group I co-founded three years ago has good relations with the local Abu Bakra mosque here in Southall (and they helped us when we did a petition against Nick Griffin appearing on Question Time).

    I also oppose anti-semitism, and I wish the Respect Party would too.

    Those who make scapegoats out of the Jews are on the wrong side of history.

  10. @SMUKESH
    Why would the pressure on the government be “immense” if Labour had held their seat in the pit that is Bradford ? The government have had the most appalling week or 10 days, some ministers look like idiots, the presentation of the budget and the pre budget leaks by the LD’s and Tories, make matters far worse than they need be. However, the government are in no danger, they are not about to fall or lose their majority. Your silly comment that that the events of this week, must mean a Labour victory, with 3 plus years to go to a GE is typical of your overworked enthusiasm.

    We will have a left wing French President very soon, how long before he and the rich kid fall out ? “Dave tells Hollande to spin on it” There goes your lead.

  11. It isn’t good news for labour, of course, but I think there is even less comfort for the tories.

    The people in Bradford west have abandoned a centre-left candidate for a much more left wing one.

    Perhaps this is why the press response to the election has been relatively muted.

  12. @martin
    So, it would not be the Muslim vote and the Tory/ LD tactical vote then ? If the voters of Bradford West are so left wing, perhaps they will begin to show better manners towards their women.

  13. Roly,
    Will your new powerful position mean you will have less time for your freiends on here?

  14. The new MP for Bradford West is quite a litigious chap, so please do avoid saying things that might be construed as libellous about him (not that any comments about any politicians that might be construed as libellous would be allowed here!)

  15. Roly if there was any tactical voting by LD/Con then it was probably for Labour rather than Galloway. Conservatives are no friends of Labour by any means, but compared to Galloway, they’d rather have Labour who at least understand the necessity in protecting our country from terror.

  16. Is calling someone litigoius not a scurrulous slur and libellous :-)

  17. JimJam – I’ll take the risk :)

  18. @MAX KING
    I understand who stands where Max, but moving Labour out in a workers paradise like Bradford was a chance worth taking. After all Bradford will still be in the UK. Unfortunately.

  19. Max

    Nonsense. However distasteful Galloway is to civilization, Labour are the real enemy and tactical voting by coalition parties would obviously have been for the only candidate with any hope of beating Labour.

  20. @Roly1

    I’m intrigued by the news of your advance up the slippery pole!

    In a few years time I can imagine saying to friends,”Oh I knew Sir Roland when he was merely a foot soldier on UKPR”.

    Stranger things have happened at sea! :-P

  21. Rank-and-file police officers are to stage a protest over proposed changes to their pay and conditions.

    The Police Federation said it was planning to hold an event in central London on 10 May. It would not confirm what its plans involve.

  22. They get paid for too much. Theres lots who would take those jobs. Dont let the greedy so and so go on strike

  23. @Joe R,

    You’re probably right that we’re paid too much (well, I am at least. Newer recruits are on a lot, lot less money than me).

    However, you surely accept that the recruits who will join for £19,000 will be less good than the recruits who currently join for £24,000, right?

    There are large parts of the “reforms” the logic of which escapes me entirely. The idea that so long as you can recruit people it doesn’t really matter who you recruit is one of them.

  24. ROLY1
    `Your silly comment that that the events of this week, must mean a Labour victory, with 3 plus years to go to a GE is typical of your overworked enthusiasm.`

    Never recall saying that…But this week has certainly created problems for the top two of the conservatives with people like David Davis piling on to say they were too posh and ministers vying with each other to impersonate Charlie Chaplin…The pressure was building and some bad news for Labour must have come as welcome relief for the Tories

    And the media have begun to call ` a spade a spade` not good for PR professionals pretending to be otherwise

  25. NEIL A
    It’s the standard market argument for low pay – there are unemployed people who’re willing to do the job so we should cut your wages to the level that the unemployed would be willing to accept.
    Unfortunately whatever the merits of the argument in an open-market (due to competition), it doesn’t really stand up with natural-monopoly employment.

    Except to say that (according to the argument, not my own opinion) the job you do isn’t valued. ;)]

    All –
    As far as what this by-election means, we’ll have to wait for the next few polls.
    I suspect that if Labour take a hit, or the Tories start to regain ground, then the argument for Ed’s head will become a lot more vocal – but with Unite announcing that an Easter strike isn’t going ahead then it could mean a sustained 10% lead for Labour.

    Then the challenge for Labour is find ways to sustain that lead until April 25th, when Q1 2012 GDP figures are released.
    If the GDP figures are negative, and Labour have maintained a decent lead (say 7-10), then I suspect it could mean real trouble for the Tories.

  26. Smukesh
    “David Davis piling on to say they were too posh”
    David Davis pops up and says these sorts of things whenever there’s trouble for the government – I suspect he still hopes that if a leadership contest were held again, this time he’d beat Cameron.

  27. @Smukesh,

    I think that’s probably about the strength of it. Politicians in general have a “view” of rank and file police officers – essentially halfwitted thugs about on a par with Tesco shelf-stackers – and have been itching to cut us down to size.

    I often wonder to myself where they get their information about what the police do. I’m guessing it’s television. Which would explain everything.

    Personally I think they should let Poles join the police. That way at least our new minimum-wage bobbies will have some enthusiasm and drive.

  28. I dislike Galloway intensely, but it’s sure going to liven up HoC with him back.

    Can see some great exchanges with Berk-oh :-)

  29. Bad result for Labour and although the Tories vote fell significantly I wonder how much of the latters fall was due to tactical voting. The Tories were never going to win and when it became obvious that there was a chance of Respect ousting Labour, it was too good a chance to miss to bloody Milibands nose. I seem to remember Tories tactical voting in another bi-election previously up here to support the LIb Dem candidate who although lost he did so respectably, so perhaps Tory voters are beginning to vote tactically.
    I think if Respect do put up more candidates in this area at the next election, the Tories could well give them their votes if they see any chance to oust Labour. So this may not end up being the one off that Labour are hoping it is.

  30. “I dislike Galloway intensely, but it’s sure going to liven up HoC with him back.”
    Would it be too partisan to say, ‘When he bothers to turn up?’ ;)

    I’m torn on Galloway – I dislike him intensely, probably for some similar and some different reasons to you, but he dispels the myth that the only way to win elections is to be a centrist Blair/Cameron/etc clone – there are plenty other characters (like Rees-Mogg) who also do a good job at dispelling the myth from the other side.

  31. “I think if Respect do put up more candidates in this area at the next election, the Tories could well give them their votes if they see any chance to oust Labour. So this may not end up being the one off that Labour are hoping it is.”
    Which would be fantastic news for left-wing politics – Respect are broadly speaking to the left of Labour and giving them more influence would probably force the politics of the UK left with it.
    So the Tories would, for the sake of petty partisanship, be ultimately shooting themselves in both feet.

  32. Ken Livingstone has proved you can get elected without being a Blair clone.

    He might yet prove it again.

  33. “He might yet prove it again.”
    I doubt at this point that we’ll see it – Ken has been ahead in a single YouGov poll, with Boris quite solidly ahead in every other.
    Unless the toxicity of the Tory party rubs off on him, which I’m sceptical of, I think we’ll probably see another Boris victory.

  34. We’ll see.

  35. @Dingo

    So using your logic, if UKIP looked like they had a chance of winning a seat from the Conservatives,, Labour voters would vote for them to give the Tories a bl–dy nose?

    Can’t see it myself. 8-)

  36. @Anthony Wells

    I’m sure you.are aware that you.are unlikely to be liable for any defamatory posts on the site. You could however receive a court order to identify of the poster of the allegedly defamatory content.

    On other matters, how amusing was it to hear a Prime Minister ask a TU leader to call off a “proposed strike”. Surely he should have asked him not to call a strike?

  37. tingedfringe

    […] he dispels the myth that the only way to win elections is to be a centrist Blair/Cameron/etc clone – there are plenty other characters (like Rees-Mogg) who also do a good job at dispelling the myth from the other side.

    Old Etonian dispels myth that to get on in Party of Old Etonians you need to be an Old Etonian. Not really the example I would choose :D . Actually what it proves is that if you’re already an insider it doesn’t matter if you look a bit like an outsider. Arguably the same applies to Galloway.

  38. Roly “We will have a left wing French President very soon, how long before he and the rich kid fall out ? ”

    Don’t bet on it. He is closing the gap on Hollande significantly & is reportedly set to ban Muslim Immans from attending some Muslim shindig next month, by which he is going for the far right vote. He could yet win, which would be amazing given how far behind he was a few months ago.

    On the By election, having been out all day, I have only just heard the news and I nearly fell off my chair laughing. Why was this not picked up in the polls? It rather tells me that EM might not really be as far ahead as he thinks. And Galloway, whilst totally not my politics (he mixes with too many right wing dictators for my liking) he will certainly liven up the Commons, I would imagine aiming his guns just as much at Labour, as at the Tories. Who says politics isn’t interesting?

  39. TINGED FRINGE

    @”he dispels the myth that the only way to win elections is to be a centrist Blair/Cameron/etc clone”

    Is there such a myth?

    There is always potential in given situations for single issue/protest vote appeal-particularly in By-Elections.

    I wouldn’t want to be associated in any way whatsoever with the sort of platform that Galloway tends to stand on.

    His appeal is very narrow indeed I suspect-but obviously very well focused.

  40. So the Tories would, for the sake of petty partisanship, be ultimately shooting themselves in both feet [by voting for far-left Respect just to spite Labour].
    —————————–
    Some would say that’s already been shown to work in Scotland. Several contributors here aver that the SNP are to the left of Labour but loads of Tories vote[d] for them based on ABL.

    Galloway used a lot of the same style of campaigning tactics which the Alex Salmond & the SNP use[d].
    8-)

  41. So, will the Sunday Times have anything new & exciting to share with us? They did promise more to come… we’ll see whether that’s true or is it just an empty promise for the sake of upping their sales?
    8-)

  42. Amber, but in Scotland that is based on perception. SNP are a bit all over the place when it comes to the traditional left vs right, so it’s quite easy for Conservatives to vote for him. I personally quite like Alex Salmond. And looking at the general election map, a lot of the SNP’s seats, 2 examples Perth and Angus, are former tory safe seats, so I assume the Tory vote went to the SNP in those places.

    Galloway is a different kettle of fish, he is seen as extreme-left, I very much doubt a Conservative would be able to stomach going and voting for him, a Lib Dem however (given their stance on Iraq) might.

    In generic terms though, I think the Conservatives would rather have Labour, (especially New Labour) than anything on the extreme left, like Galloway, or communists etc. Labour is not the ultimate enemy, we are aware of far worse to the further end of the scale. Just like many Labour supporters wouldn’t vote BNP if they had a chance at removing a Conservative

  43. @ ANTHONY WELLS

    Yes, it’s important for people not to post anything libellous – especially people like me who are not as rich as George Galloway and therefore cannot afford expensive lawyers. But please do not allow yourself to be bullied into curtailing legitimate free speech.

    However high an opinion George Galloway has of himself (and let’s face it, the bloke does love the sound of his own voice – IMHO) he is nonetheless not god.

    Forgive me if I am wrong, but when his victory was announced who was that person who was stood next to him on the platform and who was first to successfully congratulate him by means of a handshake (a handshake which can be seen very clearly and which Galloway did not flinch from accepting)? I thought for one awful moment that it looked like Neil Craig, the “Democratic Nationalists” candidate, but obviously it couldn’t have been because according to this link Craig is a former member of the BNP:

    http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/9585208.Two_more_announce_they_are_standing_in_Bradford_West_by_election/

    Just now on Channel 4 News, George Galloway did an interview and was in my opinion rude to the interviewer. I sometimes get the impression he would quite like to have a “compliant” media, like they have in Iran (IMHO). I remember him demanding that Jeremy Paxman “congratulate” him after his 2005 election victory in Bethnal Green & Bow, as if it is Paxman’s job to placate politicians.

    However, Paxman was – quite rightly – much more interested in asking if Galloway was proud to have got rid of one of the few black women in parliament (a question Galloway refused to answer).

    This, whatever GG likes to think, has been his main achievement – both in Bradford and in Bow – to reduce the representation of minority ethnic groups in parliament. That’s bad for equality because the only ones who understand racism are those who are afflicted by it, i.e. not white middle class men like Galloway (IMHO).

    Finally, on his Channel 4 News interview – which he cut short – he said that if a backside could have three cheeks it would be one for each of the three main political parties. Personally, I have always believed a backside has only two cheeks – one called the BNP and the other called Respect (IMHO).

    All of this is just my wholly mistaken opinion, you understand. Nothing libellous.

  44. @ Anthony Wells

    “The new MP for Bradford West is quite a litigious chap, so please do avoid saying things that might be construed as libellous about him (not that any comments about any politicians that might be construed as libellous would be allowed here!)”

    Hmmmm. Can he sue you for things that I say? Because I’m honestly not afraid of him suing me for libel or slander. Especially not with anti-SLAPP in place (if he gets jurisdiction over me in a California court). I could take him to the cleaners! Not that I would ever say anything even remotely libelous but you all seem to live on a different planet when it comes to definitions of libel and slander. I know that Brits and Europeans have totalitarian laws on defamation, I wouldn’t want to get you sued. Or criminally sanctioned. That would be a way to get banned from posting here and I don’t want to do that. :)

    @ Jim Jam

    “Is calling someone litigoius not a scurrulous slur and libellous :)”

    Yeah so what is libelous? What’s a “scurrulous slur?” I mean, there are a lot of nasty things you can say about someone, a LOT of nasty things that are not actually libelous or slanderous under law. I mean, when Rush Limbaugh went on his anti-birth control tirade and demanded that Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke make sex videos and make them public in exchange for government subsidized birth control and called her a “slut” and a “prostitute”, some people thought that was libelous. Mitt Romney refused to criticize Rush or reject his comments but instead said that he wouldn’t have used that kind of language. Commentators wondered what kind of language would he have used instead? “Hussy?” “Harlot?” “Contemptuous wench?” Would calling someone a “hussy” or a “harlot” be considered libelous in the UK?

  45. People are missing the point that George Galloway still wants a Labour governemnt and he is a high-profile former Labour MP.

    Therefore, there were really 2 Labour choices. George Galloway & Labour polled 80.88% of the votes.

    That is a MASSIVE swing to the left.

    The other parties should be very, very, very worried by that.

  46. On London polling leads, it was Boris 11, Ken 8, with Boris leading in the last three polls before the 2008 election. At the time Tories were moving from +10% or less, to 10-20% leads nationally

    In the run-up to 2012, Boris leads in the two most recent polls… 4:3 to Boris so far (not counting Ashcoft’s polling of Feltham and Heston).

    BBC political staff are saying that Bradford West proves Labour opinion poll leads are like a soufflé (ignoring the fact that there was no polling in Bradford)… Ed cannot enthuse Labour supporters to actually vote… stressing the importance of a Ken win in London for his leadership etc.

    One thing about Galloway – there could have been a kind of a “cleggmania” effect – only he timed it right.

    @Max – “Labour supporters wouldn’t vote BNP if they had a chance at removing a Conservative”

    Not taking “Fantastic County of kent” pills so much tonight?
    Nice to see you talking sense. ;)

  47. SoCal – “Hmmmm. Can he sue you for things that I say?”

    He certainly can, the comments are being hosted on my website. The glories of British libel laws! Of course in reality I am sure George Galloway doesn’t go through websites looking for nasty comments about himself, but on principle any comment that could be construed as libellous probably isn’t appropriate for the type of discussion I encourage here anyway.

  48. King Max

    ‘In generic terms though, I think the Conservatives would rather have Labour, (especially New Labour) than anything on the extreme left, like Galloway, or communists etc. Labour is not the ultimate enemy, we are aware of far worse to the further end of the scale. Just like many Labour supporters wouldn’t vote BNP if they had a chance at removing a Conservative.’

    Galloway has been consistent in his views on interference in the middle east. To an extent so have Lib Dems; however as Coalition partners they have lost a bit of their former shine.

    if galloway had just stood as an extreme left winger he would have received few votes. His party could stand in constituencies where their is a large muslim population and would receive large votes, damaging labour.

  49. Bad result for the 3 major parties and the Lib/Dems but a stunning win for Galloway. The man is a bit of a buffoon but should add some spice into parliament, well if anyone bothers to turn up and listen to his ramblings!!

  50. HENRY
    `His party could stand in constituencies where their is a large muslim population and would receive large votes, damaging labour.`

    It`s possible…I hasten to add he only recently lost from Bethnal Green where there is a high Muslim population…But that was in a general election where the focus was to keep the Tories out…I imagine the same would apply come the next general election

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