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George Galloway storms to victory in Bradford West by-election

by Anindya Bhattacharyya

George Galloway on the campaign trail in Bradford yesterday  (Pic: Socialist Worker)

George Galloway on the campaign trail in Bradford yesterday (Pic: Socialist Worker)


George Galloway has pulled off a spectacular political comeback by winning Thursday's Bradford West parliamentary by-election by a landslide.

Galloway, standing for Respect, beat the Labour candidate Imran Hussain by 18,341 votes to 8,201. The Tories came third with 2,746 votes.

Galloway's backers were ecstatic at his victory. 'It's absolutely brilliant,' Umit Yildiz, a lecturer at Bradford College who was involved in the campaign, told Socialist Worker.

'It was a very young campaign,' he added. 'This was about young people breaking with tradition and voting for an anti-war and anti-cuts party.'

The crucial factor behind Galloway's win was anger at a complacent Labour political establishment in Bradford that had taken voters for granted and delivered nothing.

Imran Hussain is deputy leader of Bradford council and chair of the local Labour Party. Labour has pushed through £67 million in cuts in the city, slashing over 1,000 jobs.

Galloway supporters told Socialist Worker of their anger at how Bradford's city bosses had presided over ten years of decay and mounting youth unemployment.

The Tories—who came second in Bradford West at the 2010 general election—were hit by popular anger over cuts and their budget for the rich. The Lib Dems lost their deposit.

'I'm 21 and I've never had a job, although I'm always applying for them,' said Aqil Fiaz who was campaigning for Respect outside Girlington primary school.

'The jobs that are there are mostly in call centres in Leeds. A friend of mine works nights there and he has a law degree.'

The mood for change was tangible on the streets of Bradford yesterday as Respect supporters campaigned in the blazing sun.

The by-election was fiercely fought. Key wards such as Manningham, Toller and City were covered with posters for Respect or for Labour.

Galloway was a Glasgow Labour MP for 18 years until he was expelled for his opposition to the Iraq war. He won Bethnal Green for Respect in 2005 defeating pro-war Labour MP Oona King.

He stood down from that east London seat in 2010 but failed to win the neighbouring seat of Poplar & Limehouse. But his Bradford gain puts him back in the House of Commons.

The result in Bradford West confirms the widespread hatred for the Tory and Lib Dem cuts agenda. But it also shows that Labour offers no real alternative.

While there were specific factors in Bradford that propelled Galloway to victory, his win is a boost for the left in Britain and underlines the potential for building grassroots opposition to Tory austerity.

After his victory Galloway said, Labour 'must stop imagining that working people and poor people have no option but to support them if they hate the Tory and Liberal Democrat coalition partners'.

For SWP statement go to www.swp.org.uk/statement/galloway-election-victory


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News
Fri 30 Mar 2012, 09:13 BST
Issue No. 2296
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