Galloway's Bradford win shocks main parties

Respect stalwart is an MP again after Muslim support sees him sweep to surprise victory

George Galloway tapped into widespread disillusionment among young Muslims – including deep opposition to the war in Afghanistan – to produce a stunning by-election victory in Bradford West.

A key factor in his victory was his ability to persuade first-time voters to defy instructions from older members of the community to vote Labour, a Muslim youth leader said last night.

The Respect candidate's shock victory, achieved with a swing of more than 36 per cent, prompted a fresh round of recriminations and soul-searching among senior Labour figures.

Ed Miliband, the party leader, will now face added pressure to preside over a strong performance in May's local elections.

Mr Galloway demolished a Labour majority of nearly 5,800 to capture the seat by a margin of more than 10,000 votes, while support for both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats slumped.

Mr Galloway, until 2010 the Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, portrayed himself as the only candidate pressing for the immediate return of troops from Afghanistan and focused on his support for the Palestinian cause and the "freedom of Kashmir".

About 40 per cent of voters in Bradford West are Muslims. In a letter to voters ahead of the poll, Mr Galloway said: "God knows who is a Muslim. And He knows who is not. Instinctively so do you." The former Labour MP also successfully played on anger with "bradree", a system of clan politics dating back to Kashmir that critics had blamed for delivering key seats in local Bradford politics to favoured Labour representatives.

They also claimed that the party's by-election candidate, the barrister Imran Hussain, had been chosen through the same system.

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of youth organisation the Ramadhan Foundation, said: "As well as an historic victory, it was also the end of bradreeism in Bradford."

He said young Muslims were angry at being told who to vote for by their elders and rebellious over Labour's assumption that it had a "god-given right" to run the city.

Senior Labour sources refused to comment in detail on their by-election disaster, attributing the collapse in its vote to "local factors". But the haemorrhage of support among Muslim voters in Bradford will send shockwaves through the party.

The Labour MP John Mann, who campaigned this week in the by-election, caused by the resignation of Marsha Singh through ill health, was scathing about the party's approach to the contest: "We had no game plan. No strategy. But what was particularly disconcerting was having no Muslim doorknockers, no Urdu speaker, no Hijab wearing woman talking to Muslim women voters."

Mr Galloway yesterday dismissed suggestions he owed his victory to mobilising the Asian vote, pointing out he was white and blue-eyed while Labour fielded a "Pakistani Muslim". He said: "There were no Asian voters in the election yesterday. There were British voters who have suntans like you and I aspire to every summer.

"Every person in Britain who has a right to vote is the equal of the other. We shouldn't get into any divisiveness along these lines."

Mr Miliband had been confidently expecting victory until the moment the votes began to be counted and aides had already planned a photo-call in the city to trumpet the success. Instead he suffered the embarrassment of the first loss by an opposition party at a by-election since 2000.

There was little consolation for the Coalition parties. The Tories limped in a distant third, polling just 2,746 votes with a swing of nearly 23 per cent from their candidate, Jackie Whiteley, while the Liberal Democrats came fourth and lost their deposit.

56% George Galloway’s share of the vote in the Bradford West by-election

As George got on the bus, Ed cancelled his...

So certain was Labour of victory in Bradford West, that detailed arrangements for Ed Miliband's victory parade through the city were sent to broadcasters before polling finished.

Film crews were told to assemble at City Park, a six-acre site containing fountains and a huge mirror pool, at 7.45am yesterday to meet the triumphant Labour leader.

His arrival had been timed to ensure maximum coverage on breakfast television and early morning news bulletins.

Mr Miliband planned a brief walk-about to meet the voters who had given his party its sixth consecutive by-election victory.

But as the votes began to be counted on Thursday night, Mr Miliband's team realised events were not going to plan.

At least the Labour leader was able to have a lie-in yesterday.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam