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. NickP,

    If the government advised people to leave work early due to traffic problems anticipated from an impending blizzard, and someone duly left work at 2.15pm, drove at 115mph whilst drunk and crashed their car, would that be the government’s fault?

    Noone gave any advice about pouring petrol into plastic jugs into your kitchen. The advice was about keeping 10L of fuel in your garage, which is safe, legal and perfectly sensible in my view. As soon as I read the news about the strike ballot I was on halfords.co.uk looking up fuel cans.

    And if petrol stations are out of fuel now, despite getting regular (actually increased) deliveries, how empty do you think they’ll be after a couple of days of a strike?

    I accept that the government’s approach hasn’t gone very well for them, but I do think the underlying concept is a wise one.

  2. @JIM JAM
    Regarding your very kind comment yesterday, I would not miss discussion with such a well informed and charming poster as yourself.

  3. There’s been some terrible fires over the last few years and one of the reasons has (apparently) been illegal stills making alcohol.

    Petrol stored in lots of urban garages and sheds sounds dangerous to me, and the fire brigade agree. Perhaps the Government should have checked this eminently sensible advice with the fire brigade?

    And if it WAS good advice, then the new advice that people don’t need to stock up must be wrong then?

    They should have limited themselves to hoping the talks averted a strike and waited till one was, and then set in motion whatver contingency plan was devised.

    Panic buying was surely no 1 on the risk register if they have such a thing!

  4. From The Petroleum-Spirit (Plastic Containers) Regulations 1982

    Places where petroleum-spirit may be kept in a plastic container5.—(1) Not more than two plastic containers of petroleum-spirit may be kept in or on any motor vehicle, motor boat or hovercraft or in any aircraft.(2) In addition to any petroleum-spirit kept by virtue of paragraph (1) of this Regulation, not more than two plastic containers of petroleum-spirit may be kept—(a)in any domestic premises (including the curtilage of such premises), provided that the place in which they are kept is safe; and
    (b)in any other safe place and for this purpose any 2 places not more than 6 metres apart occupied by the same occupier shall be treated as one place.

    And it wasn’t the Fire Brigade that said it was wrong, but the (Communist led) Fire Brigades Union. No. Sh**. Sherlock.

    In fairness the AA have also been quoted as critical.

    If Labour thought it was unsafe to store petrol then they had 13 long years to change the law. Whos’s playing politics now?

  5. @nick p
    The Labour developed Nanny State is thriving under the coalition. (A) Stock up with petrol. (B) Do not stock up with petrol. (C) Petrol is inflammable. (D) You may get burned.

    The Mirror is blaming Fanny Maude personally for the injuries to the woman who set herself alight. I blame the bunch of “workers” who threaten to hold the nation to ransom.

  6. “I blame the bunch of “workers” who threaten to hold the nation to ransom.”

    I await further polling with interest. As I said to Colin, your (amd my) opinion are tied to tribal party interests. We’ll see what the rest think.

  7. “If Labour thought it was unsafe to store petrol then they had 13 long years to change the law. Whos’s playing politics now?”

    Quite obviously, you are.

  8. The greatest failures of the Government on the tanker drivers ballot are :-

    1) Not saying , loud & clear-“Look use your common sense, stock up safely if you are able , and remember the stuff is flammable-got that ?”………instead of allowing the ludicrous circus of blame which they now suffer from.
    2) Allowing Red Len to get no mention whatsoever in the Press & to pursue his anti-government agenda unquestioned.
    3) Not asking , on behalf of the public-er what is this dispute about actually?

  9. On a note about the Fire Brigades Union. They are coming from the direction that in the event of a fire, fuel is highly dangerous – not just to its occupants. But to them. Quite right for them to involve themselves.

    The idea of everyone stocking up on fuel is ridiculous. Its not illegal to hoover over electric wires – but no one would give advice that its something people should do!

    Also the workers didn’t threaten to hold the country at ransom. They said they wouldn’t be forced to work and would hold a strike if their conditions weren’t met. They are now around a negotiating table. Correct me if I’m wrong, but these are private companies and ‘the public’ mean very little in this. Its about money. This? This was the governments incompetence. Most of the public will agree with that.

    Its a bit like when the Fire Brigade strike, everyone says their putting the public at risk. Yet the public arn’t willing to do that job for that money – and seem to think Firemen are pretty useful to society. Yet footballers and bankers are the only ones allowed to play ‘hardball’ for more money.

    (PS: As a bit of a socialist, I have to ask why it is the government is forced to reduce the 50p tax rate because people are REFUSING to pay tax, and yet to everyone else they are against strike action?)

  10. NEILA

    @”Noone gave any advice about pouring petrol into plastic jugs into your kitchen.”

    ………while cooking dinner on a gas stove !!!

    Now that would be stupid advice.

  11. colin

    there is as yet no strike. Advising people to stock up on fuel is probably stupid anyway cos it causes a rush and in the absence of a strike, it is just stupid beyond belief.

  12. NICKP

    @”And if it WAS good advice, then the new advice that people don’t need to stock up must be wrong then?”

    The new advice is because Red Len now says there won’t be a strike over Easter .

  13. “The new advice is because Red Len now says there won’t be a strike over Easter .”

    Red Len. Like Red Ken, Red Ed, Red Riding Hood etc

    Seven days notice required for a strike.

  14. COLIN
    `The greatest failures of the Government on the tanker drivers ballot are :`

    Agreed…They played politics and badly at that

    And they also look incompetent

  15. “‘Welcome to the 6,000 new followers. I will try to live up to your expectations. Shattered but happy after the Blackburn triumph,’

    George Galloway .
    Twitter

    Says it all.

    Have just seen a young Muslim who supported GG on tv news saying he hoped GG would become the Prime Minister.

  16. As someone who has a petrol driven lawn-mower, I always have a good supply of petrol in my shed, from time to time this stock has come in handy for emergencies, such as fuel supply problems etc. I recommend that everyone should carry a store of at least 1 jerrycan, in the National interest, we don’t want the countries lawn-mowers grinding to a halt, and the consequent chaos caused by dense undergrowth affecting our trains. Incidentally, now I think about it, we could use the petrol stock as back up for our cars……in the event of a fuel supply crisis. :-)

  17. Anthony Wells
    `Birmingham Hodge Hill, the seat of Liam Byrne who may be resigning to stand as Birmingham mayor if he wins the Labour nomination`

    It is a difficult problem for Labour and if they lose Hodge Hill this would set tongues really wagging.There are ways around this though…A high profile candidate may be one of them…And I hope Ed doesn`t get scared about this…It is an opportunity to put the `Respect` phoenix to rest

  18. NICKP

    @”Seven days notice required for a strike.”

    …so we should all sit on our hands awaiting Red Len’s official call to panic?

    Sorry-but the thing car drivers fear most is running out of fuel-you may think them irrational hot heads-but people make their own minds up about their lives.

    Would you drive past an open filling station with a half empty tank just now ?

    I have 200miles to drive in the next few days -and I will be topping up wherever & whenever I can.

  19. All this criticism of George Galloway is a bit one sided.

    He has successfully stood for election in three different constituencies.

    So he must have represented the view of the majority in those constituencies at the time.

    Yes he is a controversial character and likes the sound of his own voice, but it all adds to the colour of our politics. It would be pretty boring, if you got rid of the few mavericks that we still have.

    As for the Government and Labour at the moment. Both are pretty shambolic. The Government have had a bad month or so and this will continue, particularly if the country does go into recession. The media have turned against them and are making their criticisms front page, as well as in their opinion columns. Labour don’t appear to have many alternative policies, apart from that they oppose Government policies.

  20. Personally I am a bit torn about the strike…I am a driver and it would cause real difficulties to get to work…But I can see why the unions want to strike back at a government which is hacking the public sector…With this government,private sector=good,public sector=waste.

  21. @Colin

    So we panic buy now, then use up the fuel we panic bought… And then if there is a strike, or another call to be “ready for a strike”, we all go through another round of panic buying…

    See the problem there? Constant waves of panic buying isn’t a very good strategic fuel reserve is it.

  22. @Neil A – you are quite wrong. The fire incident happened in my local TV area, and the local fire officer who attended the blaze has been on local news regularly giving various official Fire Brigade advice that is not entirely consistent with the government’s apparent advice, if you can actually work out what this highly incompetent advice has actually been.

    As for the communist led FBU – try not to be prejudiced. I am aware of the FBU affiliations, but I saw nothing in their advice that was political or in any way inconsistent with sound safety principles.

    When all the sound and fury dies down, it’s FBU members who have to enter a kitchen and witness a middle aged woman screaming from devastating burn injuries and take in the smell of burning flesh (not pleasant, my fire brigade friends tell me) so yes, let’s have a trades union trying to help keep people safe.

    Something @Roly1 should also take note of is that the key reason behind the dispute is safety, with oil companies using the delivery contract system to screw down prices, with drivers becoming increasingly concerned over training and safety issues. The press today are relaying one story of a new driver of a 44 tonne petrol tanker at the filling depot having to re read his safety instructions after having had a single day’s training for his new job.

    As soon as I heard Maude give his advice I thought to myself a) How many people have a garage and b) he’s one serious burns injury away from political oblivion.

    In truth, this was a terribly poorly conceived government strategy to ramp up fear of a petrol crisis as a bit of PR management, but it’s blown up in their faces.

  23. One of the most incompetent elements of the shambolic government advice that no one seems to have picked up on is that, if were are meant to be preparing for shortages, the first and most critical thing to do is to limit demand.

    Only travel when necessary, drive at 55 – 60mph on motorways, remove unnecessary objects and weight from your vehicles, check you tyre pressures, avoid heavy braking and sharp acceleration and get your engine tuned.

    Oh – and try not to keep the motor running on idle, such as in long queues, for example….

  24. Official Fire Brigade advice on storing petrol.

    “It’s understandable that people may be worried about the impact of a potential shortage of petrol, but we would advise not to store large amounts of petrol at home. Petrol can be a dangerous substance that gives off flammable vapour, needing careful handling and proper storage.

    “If people feel it is necessary to store fuel at home, they should do this in sheds, garages or outbuildings – never inside the home. People can legally store up to 30 litres of petrol in two 10 litre metal containers and two 5 litre plastic containers. Storing any more than this without a license is against the law.

    “Containers should be specifically designed for the purposes of holding petrol amd be clearly marked “Petroleum Spirit – Highly Flammable”. Typically these will be fitted with a screw cap or enclosure designed to prevent leakage of liquid or vapour.

    Containers should be kept away from any means of ignition and people shouldn’t smoke when using it. Care should be taken when decanting the fuel to minimise spills and an appropriate spout or funnel should be used.

    “Storage of petrol at home is not without hazard, and while it can be done safely and legally, our advice is to carefully consider whether you really need to do it.”

    Go to any local council website and you’ll find more or less the same advice, going back way before the industrial dispute.

    I understand that most users of this board would love the government to be brought down by the Unions 1970s style, but please forgive the government for not sharing the sentiment.

  25. “the thing car drivers fear most is running out of fuel”

    hmmm

    As a car driver I fear for my daughters safety far more. But even as a “general rule” that is a nonsense statement.

    Some people drive cars, some people travel in cars, some people own cars too. They are not a generic “type” who think act react like laugh or fear alike.

    Yeah if you use your car a lot then no available petrol might leave you stranded. But so might snow or some other adverse conditions, or accident, breakdown etc

  26. “Storage of petrol at home is not without hazard, and while it can be done safely and legally, our advice is to carefully consider whether you really need to do it”

    What if a Government Minister says you should?

  27. @neil A – “I understand that most users of this board would love the government to be brought down by the Unions 1970s style, but please forgive the government for not sharing the sentiment.”

    Don’t be silly. You’re normally one of the better posters here.

  28. “I understand that most users of this board would love the government to be brought down by the Unions 1970s style…”

    Not really worth discussing this any more, is there?

  29. @Jay and Alec,

    I think you’re slightly missing the point (other than Alec’s remark about idling engines in queues, although there is quite a simple technical solution to this known to engineers and scientists as “switching the engine off”).

    The “fuel panic” is not going to significantly increase fuel use by the public. Some people may drive a little further to find a garage with fuel / smaller queues (I did this on Thursday – going about an extra 8 miles in total) but in general fuel use will remain the same.

    The idea is that everyone fills up all of their vehicles, including their weekend sportsters, mummy’s runabouts etc. So the country is sitting on a much bigger pool of fuel than normal. Once that saturation is reached, the “panic” should die down. Then people will simply top up more frequently than normal. This will mean busier forecourts but shouldn’t mean any major problems.

    Then when the strike is announced, although there will still be panic, it will be far less severe because most people will be sitting on full tanks already. The fuel industry will therefore be far more able to cope with the effects and the public disorder during the strike (and the 7 days leading up to it) will be far less than the union may be hoping for.

    I’m surprised I even have to be saying this.

  30. Surely even the most biased party supporter would agree that trying to blame the goverment for that ladies burns is laughable.

    She recieved those burns because she was stupid, how she made it this far in life actually amazes me.

  31. JAYBLANC

    @”See the problem there”

    But you are making the mistake of being detached & rational.

    The car driving public don’t want to get stranded & will act accordingly until the risk is absolutely removed by the union.

    That will lead to behaviour which you may see as irrational -the difference between you & them is you are at home thinking about the “national fuel reserve” & they are individuals in their cars trying to get to/ return from wherever.

  32. “The idea is that everyone fills up all of their vehicles, including their weekend sportsters, mummy’s runabouts etc.”

    You really should join Cameron’s Cabinet. You seem to live in their world, which is a different one to the world I live in.

  33. @Colin

    One would hope the government was capable of both thinking detached and rationally themselves, and understanding that ‘the general public’ can be panicked into thinking irrationally.

    Alas, this does not appear so, and we have perhaps the worst case of providing irrational advice, and driving panic, we’ve seen in some time.

  34. ALEC
    `The government behaved in a very foolish manner for purely political ends. Some of their own supporters realise this, but others are still trying to defend them and seek blame elsewhere. So far, the polls seem to show where the public view resides.`

    Couldn`t agree more…And you would think someone running a country would have far more in mind than just politics.The general feeling amongst the public is the government has mucked this up.

    I hope there are some poll questions tonight about the strike.

    I would also be interested in tonight`s leadership ratings and if the events of the last few days have had an impact

  35. On a wider issue, and this goes back to Blair’s Government, it seems to me that the moment a Government gains “power” all their efforts are expended to the goal of winning the next election rather than governing the country.

    This fuel thing is an entirely self inflicted wound, like the cut in top rate tax (and probably the cash for dindins too).

    A bit more running the country and a bit less politics designed to get a majority next time might actually achieve the desired result…getting elected again.

    Try to control events instead of spinning the narrative.

    Copying Blair’s MO seems a silly idea to me.

  36. @NickP,

    I live in a world where families generally have two cars, that’s true. I think a great chunk of the country lives in that world. I’m sorry that you don’t. I expect that once the government’s police reforms go through I shall be joining you on the bus.

  37. weekend sportsters, mummy’s runarounds?

    Bit different from two working parents having cars.

  38. @Neil A

    But we should keep in mind the people who own no cars of their own, probably never need a drivers licence, and have to rely on government subsidised transport… Let’s spare a thought for Government ministers, Francis Maude has obviously never seen a jerry can before this week.

  39. I love this idea that the strike call in the first place was completely unpolitical.

    This country could literally be brought to anarchy by a protracted fuel strike. And for once I mean the word literally “literally”. A country without fuel could easily see widespread loss of life, and economic damage that would eclipse the government’s budget cuts.

    The fuel haulage companies are not the government’s to command (short of an emergency nationalisation), but I have no doubt that the strike call is aimed directly at the government. Don’t pretend to me that Unite don’t fully understand the effects of a fuel strike and relish the power it gives them, exactly as the NUM used to feel that the country was run by their leave.

    The government effectively has four choices. Force a cave-in (by nationalisation or other means) by management, force a cave-in (by draconian emergency legislation) by the workers, sit back and watch the country fall apart, or take steps to reduce the impact of a strike.

    Alec is quite right that the steps that can be taken are far less than in the coal dispute as the structure of the industry is so different. But the one step the government could take was to get people to stock up. They ballsed up the implementation, but personally I don’t like options one, two or three very much.

    I don’t doubt that some in the Tory party saw potential for party political advantage in the strike, but this strike was not the government’s idea.

  40. NICKP
    `A bit more running the country and a bit less politics designed to get a majority next time might actually achieve the desired result…getting elected again`

    Unfortunately that`s not true either…You need to govern well,play good politics and have a popular leader as Alec Salmond showed

  41. @ Neil A

    Actually it is really good having Police travel on buses, as it can be very useful.

    I was once on a bus that was involved in a crash, with a car running into the side of it. A Police sergeant who regularly used the service, was able to rush to the aid of the car driver and front passenger, who were elderly and clearly shocked by the accident. He turned the cars engine off and helped with the accident scene and with getting traffic flowing, until the Police and other emergency services turned up.

    There have been other instances of minor public disorder that would probably not have happened, if there was a officer on board or would have been stopped.

    I have always been a user of public transport, even though I could drive. With the new bus lanes and special bus only routes, getting into city centres is less hassle and you don’t have the parking issues.

  42. when right wing charles moore in the telegraph attacks the governments motives they really do have problems. interesting moore says the government advice was a plan (which has spectacularly backfired) to create a thatcher moment.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/9176237/Even-Im-starting-to-wonder-what-do-this-lot-know-about-anything.html

  43. “The government effectively has four choices. Force a cave-in (by nationalisation or other means) by management, force a cave-in (by draconian emergency legislation) by the workers, sit back and watch the country fall apart, or take steps to reduce the impact of a strike.”

    Pity you didn’t pipe up when a small group of disgruntled right-wingers were blockading refineries and bring the country to a standstill a few years ago.

    One is apolitically motivated strike (nothing to do with a dispute between drivers and employers, then?) and the other was…what? A noble uprising by hard pressed multicar owning lobbyists and anti-tax heroes?

  44. @NickP,

    I used the expressions “weekend sportsters” and “mummy’s runarounds” because these are the kinds of cars that often sit around with a near empty tank.

    Two working parents with long auto-commutes probably top up their cars quite regularly and so filling them up doesn’t make that much difference to the national picture so far as private fuel reserves is concerned.

  45. “Charles Moor’s article today in the Telegraph gives the game away”. I suspect that most people realised what was going on – my friends and I certainly did. It was an attempt to distract the media away from the Government’s incompetence!! Just goes to show that Cameron ain’t no Thatcher.
    In times of strife the tory party IMO will always attack one of their hate figures – trade unions; BBC; immigration/immigrants; EU; H&S legislation; people on benefits etc etc. Strangely enough things/people that try and reduce the excessives of the right wing. On this occasion it went disasterously wrong. I wonder who’s next in line to get it?

  46. from charles moore piece on real motive for fuel panic

    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.”

    There is a key difference which ministers have not spotted. When Mrs Thatcher piled up the coal at power stations until the strike began in 1984, she was not inconveniencing the public. In 2012, the Coalition is trying to press-gang the public, without saying so, into its political battles. All those people queuing on the forecourts were pawns in a Government-organised blame-game.

  47. The press don’t like the Government at all now. The BBC and Sky News are just beginning to move with the press.

    None of them like Milliband or Labour, but they have run out of time for (or fallen out of love with?) the Coalition.

    Rather like the voters of Bradford…given an alternative, would they take it?

    UKIP, Greens? No wonder Con & Lab don’t want PR.

  48. @NickP,

    How do you know I didn’t pipe up?

    Personally I think blockades are unlawful and should be prevented by the police. Had I been in the appropriate department at the time, rather than the CID, I would have had no issues being deployed to do just that.

  49. @Neil A

    “The fuel haulage companies are not the government’s to command (short of an emergency nationalisation)”

    The Energy Act 1976 already contains enabling legislation to allow for the emergency take over of fuel distribution should private companies fail in their ability to deliver it. Each region is already required to have an emergency fuel distribution plan. For instance, the Thames Valley region’s “TVLRF Fuel Supply Disruption Protocol”. There are similar protocols across the country, and a national plan if there is nation wide disruption.

    There was no need, at all, for the Government to trigger this panic buying to prevent a “national emergency”, nor would there need to be any “Emergency Nationalisation Legislation”.

  50. NICKP
    `None of them like Milliband or Labour, but they have run out of time for (or fallen out of love with?) the Coalition.`

    They waged a campaign against him and at the end,about 40 % of the electorate still said they would vote for Labour…Rather than make a fool of themselves and lose their readership,they are now gunning for the people running the country.

    The funny thing is the government is doing no different from the last 20 months…It`s just that the press are looking at them more critically

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