George Galloway won because his politics are truly popular

Apr 3, 2012
Neil Clark

And unlike their parents, young (jobless) voters have no lingering loyalty to the Big Three parties

HE WON because he shamelessly pandered to Muslim voters' "religious passions" and "prejudices about conflicts abroad". He won because there were outstanding local issues and widespread dissatisfaction with Bradford City Council. He won because... well, he's a showman and a good public speaker.

Britain's political and journalistic elite have come up with a variety of reasons to account for George Galloway's stunning by-election win in Bradford West last Thursday, but the majority agree that his win was both (a) a terrible day for democracy and (b) a one-off that thankfully won't be replicated in a general election.
But are they right – or could the political elite be in for the biggest shock of their lives?

What those within the Westminster 'bubble' have yet to understand is that ordinary people, regardless of whether they are Muslim or non-Muslim, have fallen spectacularly out of love with British 'democracy' as it is currently constituted. Galloway's victory was actually a great day for genuine democracy and we shouldn't bet against the 'Bradford Spring' spreading to other parts of the UK.
A YouGov survey for the Daily Mail revealed that a whopping 17 per cent of Britons are now expressing their support for parties other than the 'Big Three', while the main party leaders "are collectively the least popular in the history of polling".

David Cameron's rating stands at minus 27. Ed Miliband, who yesterday announced the launch of Labour's local election campaign, is at minus 41. While Nick Clegg, who, lest we forget, was rivalling Winston Churchill in the popularity stakes during the 2010 general election campaign, is down to minus 53.

"I stand to be corrected, but I cannot find a period in modern UK political history when all three leaders have registered such poor numbers at the same time", says Mike Smithson of Political Betting.
The disillusion is not just with our political leaders, but also with the parties they front. In a separate internet poll being run by the Daily Mail, 86 per cent of respondents have answered 'Yes' to the question 'Do you want new political parties to replace the ones we're disillusioned with'.
What's going on?
The basic problem is that the political elite's enthusiasm for economic and social liberalism - and what is euphemistically described as a 'liberal interventionist' foreign policy, ie military intervention against other sovereign states - is not shared by most ordinary people.

While the elite seem to think that the most pressing issues facing Britain today are selling off the Royal Mail, relaxing the Sunday trading laws, taking an ever more threatening line towards Iran, and backing anti-government rebels in Syria, the general public's main concerns are jobs, sky-high utility bills, rip-off train fares and record petrol prices - and not getting Britain involved in any more costly Middle East wars in which their children do the dying.
So when an outspoken 'outsider' politician comes along who rejects the phoney elite consensus - as George Galloway did in Bradford West - he/she can expect to reap the rewards.

Yes, it's true that Galloway is a persuasive public speaker and, yes, it's true he is a man of charisma. But the main reason he is successful is very simple: he puts forward policies which appeal to the majority of the electorate.
Far from being an 'extremist', as he's been labeled by his critics within the Westminster bubble, Galloway's political outlook, which combines a moderate social conservatism, rooted in his Roman Catholic beliefs, with a rejection of the policies of war, privatisation and free market excess, is in fact far closer to the centre of public opinion than those of his detractors.

As the comedian Mark Steel commented on Twitter: "Someone tells me Galloway only appeals to one part of the community. Yes, the part against cuts and wars and banker's bonuses. How divisive".
While the elite accuse Galloway of playing the politics of sectarianism, the reality is that the one-time Labour MP actually fought Bradford West on a classic Old Labour manifesto - social justice at home and peace abroad. Most members of the old, pre-Blairite Labour party would have been happy to endorse this.

It's not Galloway whose political positions have changed down the years, but Labour: the party that once stood unequivocally for social justice, public ownership and a pacific foreign policy, presided when last in office over growing social inequality, further privatisation and wars against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Galloway's victory is a sign that the electorate have had enough of the pro-privatisation, pro-austerity, pro-war consensus and that they want something radically different.

It's also worth noting that while Galloway received votes from all sections of the community - and all ages - he seems to have struck a particular chord with young voters. These young voters, many of whom are struggling to find jobs, will, unlike their parents, have no lingering loyalty towards any of the three main parties - and will instead look for new, anti-establishment parties who can do something about their everyday concerns.
In short, the future lies with those who can break free from the failed policies of the past and offer policies which ordinary people - and not wealthy party donors or special interest groups - are calling for. In the years to come, George Galloway could well be remembered not as "a dangerous enemy" of British democracy, but as the man who helped save it.

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Great article.

Come on, Milliband--say it: 'I agree with George!'

I agree with most of what you say Neil but I have to disagree when you say that old Labour had "a pacific foreign policy". Since the war both partys have ruled over imperial wars abroad. Wilson offered much covert support to the US during the Vietnam war

Here in Cornwall, "pastygate", creating a "Devonwall" constituency, a disastrous Tory unified authority and collapse of the previous LibDem hegemony mean that Mebyon Kernow (Cornish Nationalists) can expect to dramatially increase their supprt.

Interesting article but I felt it came over as unbalanced.

Let"s show them (LibLabCons) who is Boss.
Vote for UKIP or English Democrats in the May local elections.
That will wake them up and take notice of what the poor old electorate think of their failed policies.

Politics are!  Politics is not plural.  Sad that the English are forgetting their English.

A resoundingly fantastic article that shoots straight from the hip and leaves no prisoners! Many thanks Neil!

* great article...yonge & ordinary people are fade up to this general grap from ordinary -incompetant -classic-blind-politic...ordinary people are the most in this planet... soon or later there is cuting trots explosion if thes continut to belive & abus ordinary people.....

Neil, you might at least have mentioned that the overwhelming majority of young people in Bradford West are Muslim. In one ward only 5% of Labour promises were white. It is to say the least tendentious to extrapolate from such a demographic.

sorry John but you have misunderstood.  Politics is a field of study or government. A field.  One abstract noun. It is spelt with an "S" on the end, not because it is plural but because it is derived from the Greek "Politicos" - of or relating to the people. 

outstanding article, couldn't agree more. im 31 and throw my polling cards in the bin because i dont believe this is a democracy. 3 parties that are all the same is no choice. we're no better than the very dictatorships we have an obsessioon with overthrowing.

Salma Yaqoob tried valiantly on Woman's Hour earlier this week to explain that, far from being a victory of the Pakistani clan system, Galloway won precisely because many women and youths from that community had cast their own votes for the first time, rather than having their husbands and fathers fill in their postal voting forms for them. On that same basis, she herself is now well on course to become the MP for the Birmingham Hodge Hill seat to be vacated by the ludicrous Liam Byrne. The complaints about postal voting fraud have been made by Galloway against Labour, not the other way round.

Why is no one mentioning that Bradford West was a Conservative target seat in 2010, whereas that part is now nowhere there? And how about body of MPs economically in the post-War social democratic tradition, socially conservative in the way that so often accompanied that position, and patriotic in relation to each and all of European federalism, separatism in any part of the United Kingdom, international capitalism, the accompanying cultural globalism, unbalanced immigration, hostility towards the Commonwealth, and subjugation, not least in the form of wars or the threat of them, to any or all of the United States, the State of Israel, and the Gulf monarchies? But reaching that parts that Respect, with its student Trotskyist canvassers and its heavily Pakistani or Bangladeshi core vote, is never going to reach.

That combination of Pakistanis or Bangladeshis and students should give Respect 15 to 20 seats in 2015, when every seat will be new. They and around the same number of Campaign Group MPs on the Labour benches need to be matched by 15 to 20 of ours, plus around the same number of allies within the Parliamentary Labour Party. Together, we could keep Ed Miliband's Labour to the principles on which it would either have won outright, or else become the largest party in a hung Parliament.

Their start has been made at Bradford West, and will be continued at Birmingham Hodge Hill. Ours needs also to be made. Perhaps, if Gisela Stuart does become West Midlands Police Commissioner, then we could make our start just up the road at Birmingham Edgbaston? Also a Conservative target seat. Until then, anyway.

It was the Muslims wot won it. To pretend otherwise is naive if not disingenuous. George Galloway could not have triumphed in the Bradford West byelection, with the biggest swing in modern British political history, had it not been for the loud, passionate and overwhelming support of the constituency's big Muslim population. "All praise to Allah!" the new Respect party MP gratefully proclaimed, via loudspeaker, to his supporters on Saturday.
By Left-Wing Muslim Commentator Mehdi Hasan. Full article:- 

Revealing that policies that are in the interests of a majority of the people are condemned, rather than celebrated, as «populist». From what I understand, the essential notion of «democracy» is precisely a system of government designed to carry out such policies, as opposed to policies in the interests of the «1 %». Not strange then, that «populist» is used as a term of opprobrium by the representatives - in particular, the corporate media - of this latter, hardly popular, minority....