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. Wherever people come from I won’t hear a word said against the garden of England, my beautiful county with the sunniest weather, finest hops and (now) the finest wine in England. Seriously, what more can one ask?


    Wasn’t being entirely serious, I’ll put a smiley thing in next time :-)

  3. Sergion agrees Kent is fantastic! :) Why else would all the Romanians want to live here? My girlfriend came to Kent, because she heard in Romania how it was so fantastic!

  4. @Sergio. Thank you, that’s the best explanation I’ve heard.

    @Neil A

    Ah, but which Arthur? John Boorman’s? (h ttp:// ), Jerry Bruckheimer’s? (h ttp:// ), Monty Python’s? (h ttp:// )[1]

    You can’t proofread Arthur and say “hah! I’ve found a mistake” because Arthur is either a fictional character or a real character about which very little is factually known. But overlaid atop him is a whole swathe of legend, speculation, fabulism, making-stuff-up, and it is this legend that is one of the English national myths.

    Regards, Martyn

    [1]: The British Constitution in one sentence: “You can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just cos some watery tart threw a sword at you”.

  5. Actually Martyn it was pulling the sword out of the stone that made him King, not the woman in the lake. That happened before.

  6. @Amber

    We cross-posted. As you say, we both agree that the Arthurian myth is a useful tool to weld a squabbling group of disparate tribes into something approximating a single nation. Just as long as we don’t discuss which nation, we’ll get along just fine… ;-)

    Regards, Martyn

  7. @Max King OTFCOK

    The “watery tart” line was a line of dialogue from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”

    Regards, Martyn

  8. Ian Anthony: whew, that’s a little strong.

  9. @IanAnthonyJames

    Your opinion of Max is your own affair, but abusing him on an internet thread will only reflect badly on you. For your own reputation, you would be best advised to apologise.

    Regards, Martyn

  10. Knocks me on the fact I have a girlfriend who I mentioned above was an immigrant, and then in the same breath calls me racist???

    Some great logic you got there Ian. Keep up the good work, saves me making you look stupid if you already do it yourself.

    Also you seem surprised that a tory has a stable loving relationship, and yet it’s tories who are more in favour and more likely to be in the traditional form of relationship.

    Oh and don’t forget Baroness Warsi, she’s Tory therfore a racist right by your logic Ian?

  11. @ Martyn

    I could actually make a pretty good case for King Arthur being a Scottish King who went on to become King of all Britain but I don’t want to wear out my welcome on this subject. It is politics but from an awfully long time ago so the ‘evidence’ is in the poems not the polls! ;-)

  12. @ Old Nat

    “Like you, I don’t know how the courts deal with defamation (like most countries whose legal system is based on the civil law tradition, Scotland doesn’t have separate categories of libel and slander) on the internet.

    Anthony is based in England (though his site may be based elsewhere). You post from California. I, Amber and several others post from Scotland. Others post from Cyprus and elsewhere.

    How is it determined which legal code should apply, and in which jurisdiction a claim of defamation would be tested?”

    I know how the law of defamation on the internet……in my country. Federal Law protects website publishers, owners, operators (whatever term you want to use) from being liable for any defamatory comments made on their website by others.

    As to choice of law. Anti-SLAPP statute would apply to me in a California court regardless of where the defamatory comments were made. Any defamation defendant in CA may raise it. I don’t think George Galloway could establish personal jurisdiction over me in a British court but I don’t know your civil procedure rules (of course, to be honest, I HATE civil procedure and had great difficulty learning it and understanding it).

    I think most defamation for things said on the internet has been treated as libel and not slander (though both have mostly the same elements).

  13. @ Amber Star

    “I could actually make a pretty good case for King Arthur being a Scottish King who went on to become King of all Britain but I don’t want to wear out my welcome on this subject. It is politics but from an awfully long time ago so the ‘evidence’ is in the poems not the polls!”

    I thought King Arthur didn’t exist and was purely fictional. Then again, there’s a whole long line of Scottish Kings that I don’t know about.

  14. But now that I have heard the Conservatives’ private explanation, which is being handed down to constituency associations by MPs, I begin to feel angry.

    The private message is as follows. “This is our Thatcher moment. In order to defeat the coming miners’ strike, she stockpiled coal. When the strike came, she weathered it, and the Labour Party, tarred by the strike, was humiliated. In order to defeat the coming fuel drivers’ strike, we want supplies of petrol stockpiled. Then, if the strike comes, we will weather it, and Labour, in hock to the Unite union, will be blamed.”
    The above by Charles Moore – writing in the Telegraph.

    Ed Balls’ comment about the Government playing political games with the tanker drivers’industrial action will be vindicated if the above proves to be accurate.

  15. @ Robin Hood

    “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).”

    I don’t like Galloway but Paxman was pretty ridiculous with that question.

    @ Anthony Wells

    “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.”

    Well I shall be more careful from now on cause that’s the complete opposite of American law (where there had been some questions on the issue until legislation firmly prohibited that kind of liability).

    I’m not going to make nasty comments about any politicians on here (well not about the ones you guys care about).

  16. Up early to watch the NZ SGP live


    “Rest assured I shall cease elucidating specifics and instead restrict myself to referring to him as a “total ******* **** not fit to **** the ******* ***** off my ******”. Which, as your lawyer will cheerfully confirm, is not actionable. Or, indeed, comprehensible.”

    LOL- thanks for that it has made my tired eyes smile !

    Was re-watching Hitchens wipe the floor with him earlier yesterday. Legendary :-)

  17. @Amber

    “Ed Balls’ comment about the Government playing political games with the tanker drivers’industrial action will be vindicated if the above proves to be accurate.”

    Danny F tried to pour cold water over it on snoozenight when Liberal Conspiracy blogger raised it.

    I am hoping we can get back to business on the budget fallout, donorgate and the rest of it now ‘he who cannot be named’ has had his day in the sun.

    Also finding out whether this result had anything to to with EdM as C4 news were alleging- or whether it was a mass turnout in one key demographic that black holed in some greenies and yellows who were also anti-Iraq plus Tories wanting to have a laugh at labour.

    I am going to put a bet on next week that- if constituencies are not changed- GG will lose in the noise of an actual GE.

    If Boris wins in London then EdM will have a lot to answer for- even though I think (on that specific race) it will be unfair because the Mayoral election is simply a battle between two utterly unattractive personalities with big ego’s and EdM can’t do anything about it. I’d be looking at LA and London local government.

  18. @ The Sheep

    “AW would be in the frame as the publisher, and as he is based in England he wouldn’t have much wriggle room. In practice he doesn’t even need to lose the case to be bankrupted by it.

    You could also be sued (I think) as this is clearly a UK site. I suspect the name would be considered a give away. Of course it would be harder to get any money out of you.

    In comparison US courts have a habit of claiming exceptionally long reach if there is the slightest link with their jurisdiction. But then I have an extremely low opinion of the US judiciary… (Unlike my opinion of Gorgeous George, who I believe is without peer).”

    Yes, we’re total hypocrites when it comes to our belief in the long reach of the law.

    I have a very high opinion of the U.S. judiciary although my faith in it is going to be tested in June I think. Probably June. What if 5 unelected people take away my health insurance based upon their decision to act as enforcers for the Republican Party? It’s scary to think about. I’m still like in shock over what happenned on Wednesday morning. I was in spitting distance of Michelle Bachmann and Kelly Ayotte and Roy Blunt btw (probably should have spit on them). I had to resist the desire to go up to her and start flirting and pretending that I was some huge fan who wanted to vote for her. She’s really short in person too (unexpected because she looks tall on tv).

    I love how people who will get health insurance that provides them with the finest medical care in the world as part of their job salary without ever having to worry about being turned away for pre-existing conditions will feel free to take away health insurance from millions who can’t otherwise get it. There’s something wrong with that. With some of the arguments brought up by some of the Justices, I think that somewhere in hell James McReynolds was looking up, watching the whole thing, smiling, and rubbing his hands with glee. Charles Fried, the former Solicitor General and Reagan Conservative called references to the brocolli argument as “beneath contempt.”

    Yes, I’m sure I could be sued but he wouldn’t be able to enforce a judgment against me from a British court in the US. He’d lose a case against me in DC cour fairly easilyt. And in a California court, I’d probably get a judgment against him.

    Of course if that happenned, then I probably couldn’t go back and visit the UK again and Anthony would probably ban me from the site. Both of these scenarios I’d like to avoid.

  19. @ Rob Sheffield

    I am going to put a bet on next week that- if constituencies are not changed- GG will lose in the noise of an actual GE.
    Yes, I agree that’s likely. The shine will have worn off GG by 2015.

    I think people in the Party are also sensible enough to realise that Ken always had a mountain to climb in London.

    But if the local elections don’t achieve the 300 target (I think that’s the figure – off the top of my head), then Ed M could be in trouble.

  20. Good Early Morn, Amber and All.

    Labour has got got rid of a leader in mid term since 1935.

    ED will survive I think.

    Yes, on the oil stock piles it makes sense. They also did this with coal in 1926

  21. Good morning Chris, Amber et al

    Unfortunately I don’t think it matters if Labour win 300/350/400 seats at the locals – the tone of the discourse has already been set: “at this stage Labour should be winning 350/400/450 – so this is a defeat for Miliband”.

    The actual number is clearly arbitrary (rather like Ken’s theoretical “shouda been leading by” concept). It would be more honest if they replaced it with x+1.

    ‘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.’

    I hope you are right and that those who direct their campaigning at religous or racial groups rather than the nation as a whole do not draw votes away from national parties, such as labour, LD or Tory.

  23. socal

    It may be that Arthur (and even Robin Hood) never existed, but then again, neither did Rambo or Scarlet O’Hara.

    So there.

  24. (that should be Scarlett. She’d be turning in her grave. If she had one)

  25. Just seen Sky News report on the alleged racist police officer, they played some of the recording.
    It must make Neil A and most decent police officers very angry to have idiots undermine the advances made in recent years.
    When cases like this occur I always ask myself how many times does this happen when the ‘victim’ does not record the exchange, therefore recism in the police is probably more widespread that the reports we hear about.
    As a white middle aged man I feel this, I can only imagine how a non-white person and in particular non-white young person must feel.

  26. MARTIN

    @” There WAS a muslim candidate who came nowhere. I think that holes your argument below the waterline don’t you?”

    Approached from this viewpoint, Bradford does provide some interesting,-worrying indicators.

    Bu if you read David Aaronovitch this morning, you will find a train of thought which probably doesn’t match your’s :-

    “But the Labour candidate was also a Muslim-from Toller.
    What he couldn’t do however, was what Mr Galloway is so good at-rousing popular anger at The Establishment ( of which Labour is inevitably a part) and playing on a sense of grievance and victimhood that is particular to some Muslim communities.

    The reason why Iraq, for instance evokes a response but Mr Galloway’s backing for the killers of Muslims in Syria does not, is because it fits a narrative of Muslims being oppressed by outsiders.
    In a sense it creates an internal community solidarity that would otherwise be eroded by modern Britain”

    The Times
    31. Mar 2012

    One of GG’s leaflets began ” God KNOWS who is a Muslim and he KNOWS who is not………….I GG do not drink alchohol and never have. Ask yourself if you believe that the other candidate in this election can say that truthfully”

    So we don’t need to be mealy mouthed about GG’s target voter-any more than we need to be about KL’s.

    What is deeply worrying , is not the democratic process which allows these platforms to appeal to those particular voters , but the ready acceptance by Muslim communities of their central message :-

    Grievance & Victimhood; Concern for muslims killed by foreigners, but none for muslims killed by muslims. Outrage on Iraq, but silence on Syria. And the all pervading presence of theocratic authoritarianism.

    There are presumably lessons for Cons in Bradford-where did their vote go?

    But for the Labour leadership not to have seen this coming is a huge failure.As ever the admirable John Mann puts his finger on identifiable failings-but after the event.

    There is a wounding progression in prospect here, which RS touches on upthread -Scotland. Bradford. London Mayor-and EM is two down with one to go.

  27. COLIN
    `There is a wounding progression in prospect here, which RS touches on upthread -Scotland. Bradford. London Mayor-and EM is two down with one to go.`

    The rest of the post was illuminating…But couldn`t agree with the above…Seems to me that an impossible target is picked inorder to wound Milliband when he doesn`t meet it…After all,he is just 18 months into a job against a new government

    Bradford was a big failure but some comfort he lost to Galloway not to the Tories… London Mayor seems a far-fetched target given Boris popularity and Ken`s tax troubles…However,in light of recent events I would not be surprised if the electorate actually give the Tories a kicking in London

  28. colin

    yeah Labour got a kicking in Bradford and the SNP are winning in Scotland, but really the only one of the three fronts where the Tories (or Lib Dems) get any sort of vote at all is in London…and the only readon that Boris ahs a chance is that Ken v Boris is not seen by most voters as Lab v Con, but rather a battle of two maverick cranks.

    If Con are ever to get a majority again then Bradford and London should be in their sights…and their best hope for Scotland is if it leaves the Union, which is pretty much an indictment also.

    I tend to agree with your general thrust though, nobody loves Labour much. But they seem to like the coalition parties even less at the moment.


    @”London Mayor seems a far-fetched target given Boris popularity and Ken`s tax troubles…”

    But you are excusing failure because of the Labour Candidate.

    Have you read EM’s list of meetings?

    Apart from Union Bosses-KL is up there on the hot dinners list.

    Labour could not escape criticism of a Boris win by saying our candidate was a tax dodger, and his opponent was better.

    Ken is Ed’s candidate. If Ken has failings , Ed should be fixing them before the election-not bleating about them after it.

  30. NICKP

    @”nobody loves Labour much. But they seem to like the coalition parties even less at the moment.”

    Sadly I must agree-and I blame the last bit on the Conservative leadership over the last week or so.

    Unpopularity because of deep reforms & fiscal constraint was always going to happen.

    But Geriatric Tax Allowances, Pasties & Jerry Cans -give me strength !

  31. ” Statistics supplied to Monmouth MP David Davies by the House of Commons Library show that between 2008/09 and 2014/15, the health service in Wales will take a 5.1% cut while over the same period the NHS in England will get a funding rise of 7.4%.”

    – WalesOnline

    Interesting :-)

  32. I’d go a bit further than that, Colin.

    Whatever I think, the coalition were retaining public support for their austerity (no alternative) narrative. The solidity of the Con vote was frankly extraordinary, given what I think of them anyway!

    But this recent keystone kops stuff on top of the various u-turns so far has (and will gather momentum) made voters start to question that underlying economic narraive. If Maude and Cameron can be so incompetent (and so dishonestly and transparently political) over the petrol non-strike, what makes them credible in anything they say?

    Trust is lost and they look ludicrous. Gonna be hard to win back. And the panic seems to have set in after the reaction to that tax cut for the rich. The nearest to polical suicide you’ll see, and all because the republicans (seem to have) got away with it in the States. But don’t forget Obama beat them last time and may do again.

  33. COLIN
    `Labour could not escape criticism of a Boris win by saying our candidate was a tax dodger, and his opponent was better.`

    Well Boris has far more standing and profile amongst the public than Ken and I suspect any other Labour candidate is likely to poll worse than Ken…The tax troubles are recent and nothing illegal has been done but the press are keen to big this up and it doesn`t help when you are already fighting an uphill battle

    Btw,he met Ken just 3 times and his donor list seems positively spartan compared to the much-spruned list published by the PM who only published dinners for those who gave 50 grand while Ed has published dinners with those who gave 7.5 grand …To be noted that the electoral commission requires donations above 7.5 grand to be published…So the 50 grand is an arbitrary figure,your lot just can`t play straight and the contrast with Milliband just keeps getting stronger by the day

  34. I suspect Ed M’s keep calm and carry on, do the right thing persona will start to appeal as the figures on the Government seems to panic and u-turn and frankly sweat it on camera.

    Ask Ed a question and you will get an answer. I think he should be bolder, yes, but at the moment wait and see is paying dividends as the Tories eat themselves.

  35. NICKP

    If I were you I would see it that way too.

    But I’m not & I don’t.

    I think Tax Allowances & Pasties were presentational errors-compounded by LibDem “differentiation” leaking of the Budget good bits.

    They are both recoverable.

    Retired people only lose byb dint of inflation & will finish up no worse than anyone else on Tax Allowances. ( The QE effect on interest rates & annuity rates is a MUCH MUCH bigger grievance)

    Hot Food taxes is a non-event.

    Jerry cans was unfair criticism of Maude. If you told people to do nothing & not panic they would still have flooded the petrol stations. Taking reasonable precautions was a reasonable message-for those with a garage !

    I think party funding was a definite hit-but it has settled down to a cross party thing now I think.

    Clearly the Top rate of Tax fed into the steryotype for Cons-but it had to be done-so the hit had to be taken.

    I do think Con VI will come back-but DC has to sharpen up the act-maybe get some Grammar School boy(s) in the Cabinet ? :-)

  36. Colin you and I don’t have to be convinced. We have our prejudices.

    When’s the next poll? Monday?

  37. @JimJam,

    It does make me sad, but it is a lot rarer than it once was, and of course racism is still alive and well in society as a whole. One thing I’ve noticed when examining the mobile phones of drug dealers, even those with black friends/associates, is the sheer volume of racist “jokes” that are circulated.

    As always, I will leave it to the enquiry to get to the bottom of whatever the officer(s) said or did. It seems odd to me that if the exchange of words I’ve read was the whole story that action wasn’t taken first time around. There may be a bit more to it, but hopefully the truth will come out in the end. You can be assured that in general the police management has a very intolerant attitude to racist remarks by officers.

  38. The by election result is a remarkable one, which has helped transform the fortunes of a politician whose career was thought to be on the way out. In those circumstances it would be churlish not to congratulate the victor.

    So – well done, David Cameron.

    `The by election result is a remarkable one, which has helped transform the fortunes of a politician whose career was thought to be on the way out`


  40. Maybe Cameron is a lucky PM after all

  41. JimJam & NeilA
    I have a horrible feeling that this is one of those moments, because of the vocation, that ‘one bad apple spoils the bunch’ rings true, much like in the military – and with the controversy still surrounding the Mark Duggan case, this came at a really bad time.

    I found the claim absolutely incredible and if Charles Moore has solid proof (i.e a copy of an e-mail, etc) then it could be really damaging for the government.
    It also gives Labour a great opportunity to adopt a ‘playing politics’ narrative – the austerity measures are ‘playing politics with the economy’, NHS reforms are ‘playing politics with people’s health’, etc

    We’ll just have to wait and see if Labour take the opportunity to score against an open goal – or whether they miss like they have done plenty of times in the past.

  42. “This is our Thatcher moment.”

    I was thinking of the fuel crisis as a kind of Falklands war…. not a good analogy I know, but mid-term, an unpopular first-term Tory administration, a short campaign over Easter which transforms party fortunes.

    While the press will dismiss a Labour polling lead, No 10 will be most excercised about it… the time for Big Society relaunches has gone.

    If we have to have a national anthem I would prefer Jerusalem, a work whose incomparable & flawless beauty & mysticism sings out from every line. Blake was also, uniquely, as great an artist as poet.
    He was of course a “radical” critic of the “old regime” but his tradition of Protestant dissent has been as important in shaping British culture as anything else & was the key element in the creation of the Liberal & Labour parties.
    The WI sing it at every meeting – “Jam & Jerusalem” – & this non-trot organisation presumably sees it as somehow representative of female unity & aspirations.

  44. NICKP

    @”We have our prejudices.”

    Would you settle for “convictions” ? :-)

  45. An anthem? How about Simon & Garfunkel?

    Hello darkness, my old friend
    I’ve come to talk with you again
    Because a vision softly creeping
    Left its seeds while I was sleeping
    And the vision that was planted in my brain
    Still remains
    Within the sound of silence

    In restless dreams I walked alone
    Narrow streets of cobblestone
    ‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
    I turned my collar to the cold and damp
    When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
    That split the night
    And touched the sound of silence

    And in the naked light I saw
    Ten thousand people, maybe more
    People talking without speaking
    People hearing without listening
    People writing songs that voices never share
    And no one dared
    Disturb the sound of silence

    “Fools”, said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words, like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed
    In the wells of silence

    And the people bowed and prayed
    To the neon god they made
    And the sign flashed out its warning
    In the words that it was forming
    And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
    And tenement halls”
    And whispered in the sounds of silence

  46. @Amber, TingedFringe,

    I’d thought it was perfectly obvious that the government’s intention was to build up privately held fuel stocks in the country. I’m not sure why that should be seen as “playing politics” or in any way reprehensible. As I said above somewhere, the government will get the blame for the chaos of a strike whether it’s their fault or not. Seems eminently sensible to do what little they can to prepare for it.

    It’s a shame that between Maude’s misspeak over Jerrycans, and the slight (and let’s face it pretty predictable) overreaction by the public, their plan has gone a little awry. In the long run, however, I’m pretty sure they’d rather endure the slings and arrows now than face the wrath of a country that has run out of fuel.

    A non-scandal in my opinion.

    As opposed to the Cruddas thing, which is real scandal, and elements of the budget, which were political ineptitude of Brownian proportions.

  47. @TIngedFringe re Police

    So far as I am aware, the controversy over Duggan is more about the IPCC than the police. The police at the scene were following procedure pretty closely, but an IPCC spokesperson made an inaccurate statement to the press. We’ll have to see whether in the end the actual shooting was deemed to be reasonable. Too soon to tell I think.

  48. Neil

    I’ve read other things about Duggan, including the suggestion of a “plant” of the gun after the shooting But there’s no proof of anything much.

    The big problem with the IPCC is the suggestion that they are not Independent as they employ ex-coppers to do the investigating.

  49. Neil A
    `A non-scandal in my opinion.`

    Not so sure…They have made themselves the butt of public humour as evidenced by the Any Questions audience yesterday

    If they had played their cards right,they could have caused great discomfiture to Labour and portrayed Ed as red and clawed back their poll drift…The trick is not to tell the public they had been had and not burn them if you can

  50. “I’d thought it was perfectly obvious that the government’s intention was to build up privately held fuel stocks in the country. I’m not sure why that should be seen as “playing politics” or in any way reprehensible. ”

    You can’t see why that might be monumentally stupid? One critically ill already and petrol stations out of fuel AND THEY HAVEN’T EVEN ANNOUNCED A STRIKE.

    Perhaps you should be on the policy advice team.

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