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West Bradford By Election. What it Means For Labour

Without doubt it was a poor night for the Labour Party as we contrived to lose a reasonably safe seat in Bradford West to a certain Mr. George Galloway and took an enormous swing of 36.59% against. 

I am tempted to go down the road of it being a one off, and that the demographics of the seat made it easy pickings for a candidate who is anti the Afghan War, and picked up on the disconnect many British Asians feel for our political system. In addition many voters feel it’s a “free hit” in a by election and use it as a way to protest to all the main Parties. 

But we ignore the result at our peril, and we have to learn the lessons from the 1930’s when mainstream Left parties in Europe failed to make the argument and let in extremists to power. 

In 2010 the Tories didn’t win the election, their vote only crawled up by 3.7%. The vote for Parties other than the big two was it largest since 1935 meaning that the UK public are now more likely than at any time since the War to vote for a minority Party. 

As Ed Miliband told us during his Leadership campaign in 2010, familial and class loyalty can no longer be relied upon to deliver our core vote. You no longer hear the 20-year-old girl on the doorstep saying she will vote Labour because her Granny would spin in her grave if she did otherwise!  13% of all ballots cast went to so called “others” in 2010.

 Galloway offers nothing but negativity and a sense of hopelessness. Whilst we must critique the Government forensically and mercilessly over their wanton destruction of the public services, and their politically motivated cuts, we must present a sense of hope, that a vote for us is a vote for politics that can change things for the better and Labour stands for positive change, with positive policies and a positive message about how great the UK can be once again. 

As for George Galloway? Where do you start? Talk about a man of contradictions. 

One minute describing Saddam Hussein as a “bestial dictator”, (Hansard, July 1988), the next we hear him on tape saying “Sir, I admire your courage and indefatigability”, when on a visit to Baghdad in 1994.

Then, in 2002 he accused Saddam, to his face, of possessing WMD and challenged him to re admit the UN Weapons team. 

In 2003 he was expelled from the Labour Party for encouraging British personnel in Iraq to disobey orders, citing the Nuremberg Principles that following orders is no defence in a War Crimes trial. 

Notice he did not leave, or resign over principle. He was sacked. Booted out. This, despite being a Labour MP since 1987, so thereby signing himself up for our Manifesto, including for the 2001 Election after four years of “a Government as, if not more right wing than that of Thatcher”. 

I have no problem with dissent within the Party, it’s healthy and helps us move forward, but George is quite clearly completely at loggerheads with the majority of our policies and dismissive of all that we have done for ordinary working people. Making a real difference. Doing the hard work at the coalface. 

For myself, yes, I was implacably opposed to the Iraq War. No one can ever convince me it was undertaken for purely altruistic reasons, or that Iraq is better off than before the invasion.

 And I fully support the objective of a twin state solution to the Palestine issue, based on parity of esteem. 

But in the words of Billy Bragg George Galloway has become, like many of his ilk on  ”The irresponsible Left”, “The liberal, with the small l crying in front of the TV”, feeling a lot, but doing nothing except indulging in “The politics of denunciation”. 

And indulgent it is for Galloway, as he swans off around the world sucking up to the Castros (check out Amnesty International on the Cuba issue), who are seen as a heroes to some on the Left whilst locking up their own people and denying them the opportunity for real democracy. 

It’s a good job they have the Number One Health Service in the world, as you may need it after a night in the cells with Castro’s Crew. 

And this is what convicted IRA terrorist Danny Morrison had to say about George Galloway, the man who marched with Gerry Adams when the blood soaked ghouls of Sinn Fein/ IRA were still murdering working people in what Galloway described as an “armed struggle”. Morrison was calling for Galloway to stand for Sinn Fein in the West Belfast Westminster Parliamentary constituency

 George is dedicated to Irish republicanism and was here most recently in 2010, when he was a guest on the ‘Gerry Kelly Show’ in St Kevin’s Hall. He is a republican, articulate, personable, loyal and dedicated” 

What a chilling endorsement. 

George Galloway brought his one man show to Hull in 2006 and he was funny and observational, indeed much of what he said you can’t argue with as a Socialist, but remember it’s what we DO not what we SAY, and Respect have done little except denounce Labour whilst offering little alternative in the way of constructive policy ideas. 

Also, scratch the surface and the charm fades. 

I asked; “Why did you say on local TV that Robin Cook could have saved the Labour Party when, as Foreign Secretary he oversaw the Genocidal Sanctions and the 1998 Air War on Iraqi civilians? I thought all that would have been anathema to you”.

“Are people not allowed to repent!” he yelled, but then bafflingly told an anti Cook story. 

He also shouted down a woman who supported action in Kosovo (which I did) and against the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. “What gives you, the right? Whiteness! Neo Imperialist!” 

We can smile at Galloway’s antics on Big Brother, or his passionate if slightly illogical arguments on Question Time, but the by election is a microcosm of what happens when people feel a sense of disconnect between themselves and the Labour Party. 


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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