The results of the Bradford West by-election produced a 10,000 vote swing to the Respect party in an area Labour has held almost solidly since the early 1970s.
A “massive rejection” of mainstream politics and a “Bradford Spring” was how Mr Galloway described his shock win. Respect swept from fifth place at the 2010 general election to a commanding victory for the ex-Labour anti-war campaigner against his former party on a swing of 36.59 per cent.
The reverse is a serious blow for Labour which entered polling day as overwhelming favourite to retain the seat at the end of a fraught week for the government.
Bradford West by-election result:
– George Galloway (Respect) 18,341 (55.89 per cent, +52.83 per cent)
– Imran Hussain (Lab) 8,201 (24.99 per cent, -20.36 per cent)
– Jackie Whiteley (C) 2,746 (8.37 per cent, -22.78 per cent)
– Jeanette Sunderland (LD) 1,505 (4.59 per cent, -7.08 per cent)
– Sonja McNally (UKIP) 1,085 (3.31 per cent, +1.31 per cent)
– Dawud Islam (Green) 481 (1.47 per cent, -0.85 per cent)
Labour went into the contest – sparked by the resignation due to ill-health of Marsha Singh – the overwhelming favourites with bookmakers. Turnout in the poll was just over 50 per cent – considered high for such a contest, especially in an urban area.
Labour MP Toby Perkins conceded that his party had lessons to learn from the way Mr Galloway had been able to “capture the mood” of the electorate, especially young people.
I think frankly there wasn’t a lot the other parties could do about it. Toby Perkins Labour MP
“We need to learn from that. It’s a desperately disappointing result for us. Bradford is an important city for the party and it has come as a big shock the way that things have changed over the past few weeks.”
He went on: “I think frankly there wasn’t a lot the other parties could do about it. They’d seen him on Big Brother.
“They wanted him on their streets and now they’ve got it, and let’s hope that he lives up to the promise that he’s made to them and actually delivers on the optimism that surrounds his campaign, which hasn’t always been the experience of constituents who have had George Galloway as their MP in the past.”
As a jubilant Mr Galloway left the sports hall he was mobbed by his supporters and had to retreat back into the building. As he left again he was hoisted onto the shoulders of supporters as people chanted “Respect”, while others said: “We love you George.”
Mr Galloway was carried around the side of the building as his supporters continued to chant and cheer.