Could Labour lose Bradford West?

March 28, 2012 3:01 pm

Update: I’ve had word from the ground this evening that goes against what I was told earlier this week. I’m now hearing that turnout is “unlikely to be a problem” at least in terms of what is normal for a by-election. In terms of the Labour vote, it seems to be holding up well on the doorstep (as I said below), whereas the Tory vote appears to be collapsing. Galloway could well finish second, but that’s likely to be because the Tory vote has dropped off.

———

Bradford West has a Labour majority of 5,763, but there’s growing concern that the “safe” seat could be under threat tomorrow, despite being held by Labour since 1974. Crucial to the final result is turnout. That’s the case in all by-elections, but in Bradford West that’s going to be particularly important. A Labour Party source told me earlier this week that “We are worried about turnout”. No-one seems to be preparing for a comfortable win, as has been the case with previous by-elections.

Another reason for concern – especially if turnout is low – is George Galloway. After all he has won a “safe” Labour seat with a significant Muslim population before – and he’s trying to repeat the trick in Yorkshire. As the Guardian reported yesterday:

“To New Labour, Galloway is the bogeyman. But to young Asians such as Yasser Hussein, a Bradford student who had been a fan since watching a YouTube clip of Galloway savaging the US senate in 2005 over the Iraq war, he is simply a “legend” and “the only politician who tells the truth”. In the student union, one woman squeals when she has her picture taken with him. Cherifa Baazis, the university’s Muslim faith adviser, tells him he appeared to her in a dream: an omen. Yes, she said, he had her vote.”

The Galloway effect has led to odds on the Respect candidate being slashed, before later being suspended. Ladbrokes have said that a Galloway win would mean their “biggest by-election payout in history”.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, and Labour are still considered the favourites for the seat. Imran Hussain appears to be a strong and popular candidate with the electorate, and the same Labour source who was concerned about turnout also told me that “things are going well on the ground” – something which is backed up by local activists. It’s believed that a significant amount of voter ID work was done in advance of outgoing MP Marsha Singh’s resignation, giving Labour something of a head start. However other activists speak of a constituency party that has not functioned as it should in recent years…

Regardless of the mitigating circumstances, Labour needs a win tomorrow. Anything else would be disastrous for the party – and for Ed Miliband especially – heading into recess. Yes, Labour could lose this seat tomorrow, but for the leadership, such a result must remain unlikely, and for now, unthinkable.

(If you want to campaign in Bradford West, the details for the campaign centre are here.)

  • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

    I saw a clip of George Galloway (an ex-manual worker) making a speech while campaigning for this seat. He described himself as Real Labour.

    It made me think: if New Labour was a party where check-out operators and nurses were considered deserving of the same opportunities as London lawyers then it would be worth voting for.

    • http://twitter.com/_DaveTalbot David Talbot

      Of course, Dave, you have conveniently overlooked Galloway’s history of rampant anti Israeli comment, penchant for whipping up racial tensions, inciting the murder of British forces, his alliance with various murderous dictators and his (only alleged, of course) siphoning off of Iraq Oil for Food funds. 

      But at least he’s an ex-manuel worker and “real Labour” – huh?

      • treborc

        Gosh after Blair and Gaddaffi you would think people think before hammering Galloway.

        What did Blair say to Gaddaffi your the greatest leader of your people, weeks before he was killed, or was the kiss Blair way of marking him for death.

        Short memory some have, and do not even start me on the others.

      • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

        The problem is that there is a growing section of the population who find New Labour increasingly irrelevant. New Labour has, to use an old phrase, become an enigma wrapped up in a mystery.

        No one knows what they stand for other than wanting to get elected.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=36910622 Edward Carlsson Browne

    I haven’t been to Bradford, so I don’t know what the situation on the ground is like, but it has to be pointed out that that Guardian article is a deeply unreliable guide. It was lazily written to fulfil a narrative they wanted. Its claims that Dennis Skinner is a heavyweight, and that Labour has controlled the city council for 30 years (actually only for 14 out of the last 30 years) make it clear that it is not a piece of in depth analysis.

    Betting odds relate to the amount being staked, not necessarily the chances of victory. They were not a good indicator in the 2010 General.

  • http://twitter.com/matt_j_little Matthew Little

    Galloway is a clown. He came back to Scotland last year claiming he would he walk the election and become a list MSP. He didn’t ending up with 3.3% of the vote. In fairness to him he did beat the Lib Dems …

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=697126564 Paul Halsall

      But he won in Bradford…

  • http://twitter.com/johnringer John Ringer

    It’s annoying to think that Galloway has even the slightest chance of getting another seat anywhere. Don’t the people of Bradford West know how absolutely terrible he was as the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow? Self-centred, self-aggrandising, with not a care to give about the needs of his constituents who, by the way, are some of the poorest in the country.

    It’s funny how so many on the far left accuse Labour of parachuting candidates into constituencies they haven’t the first clue about, but seem perfectly content with Galloway moving from Glasgow to Bethnal Green, then to Poplar, then over back to Glasgow, and now over to Bradford.

    • LordElpus

       “Don’t the people of Bradford West know how absolutely terrible he was as
      the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow? Self-centred, self-aggrandising, with
      not a care to give about the needs of his constituents who, by the way,
      are some of the poorest in the country.”

      True, absolutely true . . . but he’s not Labour!

    • Thomas Hayman

       Don’t worry, we all know! :-D

  • Cari_esky5

    People in Bradford only need to see what Galloway did in Bethnal Green.  Nothing as he is only full of his self importance.  Also his old Scottish seat many Labour voters were glad to see the back of him.  

  • LondonStatto

    The odious Galloway winning might be disastrous for Miliband but it would be worse for the country.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Graeme-Hancocks/1156294498 Graeme Hancocks

    Ok. Youv’e jogged my consceience! I live in the neighbouring (Tory, very Tory) constituency andas  I am free tomorrow, I have just rung up and volunteered my services for the day (although not a Labour party member for some years).  I cannot stand Galloway.

  • lilgame_0007

    this  Galloway  character is making no sense. hasent made sense since i heard of him. send free text messages at textme4free.com

  • Brumanuensis

    Galloway is vile and I sincerely hope the people on the ground that you quoted in your update are right. The thought of that clown becoming an MP again is too much to bear.

  • Thomas Hayman

    I reside in Bradford West and have done for all my life. If billboards are anything to go by Labour are a sure thing. I have only heard from the labour representatives and none others. The tories haven’t even made an appearance in any debates apart from a show visit by Cameron.

    • checho rama

      Get out much, do you?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

    It does suggest, though, that some of the themes pushed by Galloway – particularly regarding the Palestinians –  have support and can mobilise some people in the Muslim community. Far more than just the ‘Islamists’ as recently pushed on another thread.

  • Sibboleth

    I note that the Grauniad article in question is by Helen Pidd. Who, for those that don’t remember, wrote an utterly disgraceful and sickeningly self-pitying article last summer that is still online: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/01/talk-survivors-norway-attacks

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Graeme-Hancocks/1156294498 Graeme Hancocks

    Just back from several hours of door knocking in Bradford West.  I was quite shocked to hear some of the things some Muslim voters appear to have been told by “Respect”. I have saw the Gallowbus complete with the buffoon screaming into microphone and surrounded by fans and balloons as it toured Bradford. I would’nt like to predict result but the overall impression was of fairly solid support for Labour (several hundred/maybe thousand plus Labour posters and a pretty positive response on doorsteps). But you never know with these things. Foot sore and fingers crossed!

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