George Galloway has inflicted a humiliating defeat on the Labour party by taking the Bradford West seat in yesterday’s by-election. Mr Galloway achieved 18,341 votes, more than 10,000 ahead of his Labour rival.
The by-election was called after the resignation of Labour’s Marsha Singh, due to a long term illness. Mr Singh won the seat for Labour in the 2010 General Election with 18,401 votes. However in Thursday’s by-election the Labour vote collapsed to 8,201, a swing to Mr Galloway’s Respect party of 36.59%. Early indications are that the 40% of local voters who are Muslim, and traditionally Labour voters, switched en masse to Respect.
There was little cheer in the result for the Conservatives either. Their vote evaporated, falling to just 2,746 compared to their General Election result of 12,638.
Not long after the polling stations closed at 10pm, senior Labour MPs told Sky News that they were confident that they would retain the seat. However within hours the jitters were starting to show amongst the Labour camp.
The scale of Mr Galloway’s victory has stunned the Labour party, and will come as a bitter blow to leader Ed Miliband, who had hoped that the unpopularity of the recent Conservative Budget would translate into votes for Labour.
Speaking after the result was announced Mr Galloway said: “By the grace of God, we have won the most sensational victory in British political history … Labour has been hit by a tidal wave in a seat they have held for many decades and dominated for 100 years. I have won a big victory in every part of the constituency, including in areas many people said I should not even compete.”
Mr Galloway claimed his victory was due to people’s disaffection with “the path of treason by Tony Blair in 1994” that has taken Labour “so far away from its traditional supporters that people feel neglected and betrayed”.
He added that Blair remained revered inside the modern Labour party, “swanning around making millions, instead of facing trial in the Hague for war crimes. The big political parties have had a very salutary lesson, and I hope they take note.”
He added: “Labour should have won a landslide victory, so voters are not looking for the austerity-lite policies of Ed Miliband and Ed Balls.”
Result in full
Galloway/RESPECT 18,341 (55.9%)
Lab 8,201 (25.0%)
Con 2,746 (8.4%)
LD 1,505 (4.6%)
UKIP 1,085 (3.3%)
Green 481 (1.5%)
Nat Dem 344 (1.0%)
Loony 111 (0.3%)