Diary: Galloway's back – and his victory was no aberration


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The Independent Online

George Galloway was spotted strutting around Parliament yesterday – proof for those who thought last Friday's result in Bradford West was a bad dream that he has come back. Labour MPs who spotted him were torn between visceral dislike and a grudging respect for his indefatigability.

Despite the promises made on Friday to "learn the lessons" of defeat, Labour is treating the result as an aberration brought about by demographics, tensions between older and younger generation Muslims, and Galloway's unique celebrity status.

Indeed, what happened in Bradford is unlikely to be repeated in the foreseeable future – except in one possible instance, which should give Labour pause for thought. On 3 May, there will be a referendum in Birmingham on whether the city wants a directly elected Mayor. If the answer is yes, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Liam Byrne, will quit the Shadow Cabinet to seek the Labour nomination. If he is elected Mayor, he will resign his seat and there will be a by-election in Birmingham Hodge Hill.

Hodge Hill has 10,171 Muslim voters, compared with Bradford West's 13,822, and in normal times looks like a safe Labour seat – but then so did Bradford West until the votes were counted. The Respect Party's second most famous name, after Galloway, is Salma Yaqoob, who took 25 per cent of the vote in Birmingham Hall Green in 2010. Labour can take some solace from the fact that Ms Yaqoob quit Birmingham council last July, because of ill health; but after Bradford, they should know better than to underestimate the opposition.

When Dacre was a Ho Chi Minh fan...

Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, was a student radical in his day. This is not surprising, because he was at university when the Beatles sang "All You Need is Love" and much of Britain's student population was smoking dope and demonstrating against the Vietnam War.

A journalist from The New Yorker magazine has interviewed Dacre for this week's edition and come up with a vivid description of the man who has run the Mail for nearly 20 years "sitting on a dotted-swiss sofa in his London office, which is swagged in the camels and burgundys, the brasses and woods, that one would expect of a man who, as a student at the University of Leeds, chanted 'Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh' but now says: 'For the life of me, I'm not quite sure why.'"

Ho Chi Minh was the communist dictator of North Vietnam. Chanting his name implied a mindset a very long way removed from the editorial stance of the Daily Mail.

'Do you come to these rallies often?'

A touching story from the Carlisle News & Star. David Atkinson, a member of the public sector union, Unison, and Karen Gallagher, who is running as a Labour candidate in the elections to Carlisle council next month, are in love. They plan to marry in September. On Monday night, they met Ed Miliband at a local election campaign meeting.

What makes their story so special is the chat-up line that set off their romance in August 2010. He asked her: "Do you want to come and see Ed Miliband with me?" She said yes, and their first date was at a Labour Party rally. I hear violins.

Boris is genuine article: a real idiot

The Radio Times has an interview with Ian Hislop to mark the return of Have I got News For You.

Asked about its best-known guest, Hislop replied: "People always ask me the same thing about Boris. They say, 'Is he an incredibly clever bloke pretending to be an idiot?'

"My view is: no."