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Wed 24 September 2014
29 Dhu al-Qa`dah 1435 AH  

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    The Bradford West By-Election, March 2012

  • George Galloway's Respect could help Britain to break the political impasse
  • Bradford West By-Elections - A 'Bradford Spring'? Ratna Lachman
  • British Muslims must step outside this anti-war comfort zone Mehdi Hassan in The Guardian
  • George Galloway's victory shows that British politics is dividing down tribal lines Ed West in the Telegraph
  • It is time to end Labour's Faustian pact with clan eldersDavid Goodhart in the Financial Times
  • Galloway and Aung San Suu Kyi – so alike Mark Steel in the Independent
  • George Galloway and Jean-Luc Mélenchon expose a huge political gap Seamas Milne in the Guardian
  • How 'Gorgeous' George Galloway proved me wrong in Bradford West Helen Pidd in the Guardian
  • Galloway won for some very good reasons Patrick Cockburn in the Independent
  • On Mehdi Hassan's Advice To The Muslim Community Sukant Chandan in CounterCurrents.org
  • British Muslims have given David Cameron an object lesson in democracy Parveen Akhtar in the Guardian
  • 'Labour has gone a bit mad since Bradford West Salma Yaqoob in the Guardian

    BBC News report, 30th March 2012: Respect Party candidate George Galloway has won the Bradford West by-election, taking the seat from Labour by more than 10,000 votes. Mr Galloway, who was expelled from Labour in 2003, said it was the "most sensational victory" in by-election history. The by-election was triggered after Labour's Marsha Singh, who had a majority of 5,763 at the 2010 General Election, resigned on health grounds.

    George Galloway's Respect could help Britain to break the political impasse

    Tariq Ali in The Guardian, 30th March 2012

    George Galloway's stunning electoral triumph in the Bradford by-election has shaken the petrified world of English politics. It was unexpected, and for that reason the Respect campaign was treated by much of the media (Helen Pidd of the Guardian being an honourable exception) as a loony fringe show. A BBC toady, an obviously partisan compere on a local TV election show, who tried to mock and insult Galloway, should be made to eat his excremental words. The Bradford seat, a Labour fiefdom since 1973, was considered safe and the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, had been planning a celebratory visit to the city till the news seeped through at 2 am. He is now once again focused on his own future. Labour has paid the price for its failure to act as an opposition, having imagined that all it had to do was wait and the prize would come its way. Scottish politics should have forced a rethink. Perhaps the latest development in English politics now will, though I doubt it. Galloway has effectively urinated on all three parties. The Lib Dems and Tories explain their decline by the fact that too many people voted! Thousands of young people infected with apathy, contempt, despair and a disgust with mainstream politics were dynamised by the Respect campaign.

    A 'Bradford Spring'

    Ratna Lachman of JUST West Midlands The electoral victory of George Galloway in the Bradford West by-elections represents a seismic change in Bradford’s politics that will reverberate in the forthcoming local and future national elections. For a campaign that barely lasted four weeks, the conversion of a 10-1 odds at the bookies to the suspension of all bets for a Galloway victory, three days before voting day is indicative of the sea change that is taking place in Bradford’s politics.

    The declaration of a ‘Bradford Spring’ by George Galloway is apposite only in so far as it marks a transition from the ‘old order’ defined by ‘braderi’ or clan politics which has delivered Labour its victory over the last 4 decades, to a ‘new order’ led by young people whose adept use of the social media delivered the Respect Party its electoral victory. The fact that Galloway was trending worldwide on the back of his young supporters, whose messages were dominating the twittersphere, highlights how the nexus between the local and global has become blurred, making tribal politics that Labour was relying on almost Neanderthal in its approach.

    The emergence of women as an electoral force in this by-election cannot be underestimated. In this respect Bradford Muslim Women’s Council's call to women to exercise their vote without fear or favour, was instrumental in the political awakening of many Muslim women in this by-elections. While the Galloway campaign proactively targeted women in local community and women’s centres, Labour made a tactical mistake of ignoring this vital constituency.p> Notwithstanding the emergence of young people and women as a vital political force in the Bradford West by-elections, ultimately the by-election was a referendum on the economy. In this largely multi-ethnic constituency where the Muslim pound makes a significant contribution to the local economy, the support of Asian businesses for the Galloway’s campaign proved to be crucial. The grossly unfair financial settlement that Bradford received from the Coalition government (8.8% budget reduction or £129 per head of the population) and the absence of a viable economic and investment strategy merely re-entrenched the idea that the Conservative and Labour candidates were representing a Cabinet of the South and for the South. Likewise despite the fact that Labour has held the parliamentary seat for almost four decades, it has failed to lift the city out of the economic doldrums. With poverty, unemployment, education and health prospects of residents steadily deteriorating, the hole in the city centre has become a symbol of the inability of the Labour Council to deliver a sustainable economic and regeneration strategy.

    As the dust settles the wider significance of Galloway’s victory will unfold in the coming months and years it is clear that a new generation and a broader constituency has been politicised. There are already the stirrings of a ‘Bradford spring’ with the emergence of new leadership potential, who may yet make their mark felt in the forthcoming local, national and European elections. Ultimately however if this victory is to mean anything at all it must be to create a politics that is inclusive and issue-led. Whether it is ‘clan politics’ in the regions or the ‘cash for influence politics’ on a national stage, both are equally corrupt and no longer fit for democratic purpose. The sooner mainstream parties begin to truly re-connect with the hopes and aspirations of the wider electorate – young-old, men-women, Black-white – rather than define political ambition in narrow partisan terms, the sooner we start restoring trust and confidence in democracy.

    British Muslims must step outside this anti-war comfort zone

    Mehdi Hasan in The Guardian, 2nd April 2012

    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.

    The British Muslim community has had a tortured relationship with politicians in recent years. That it has become a cliche to say that young British Muslims are alienated, estranged and marginalised from the political process doesn't make it any less true. Muslims are woefully under-represented in public life: the number of Muslim MPs, for instance, stands at eight out of 650.

    George Galloway's victory shows that British politics is dividing down tribal lines

    Ed West in the Telegraph

    Perhaps the most surprising thing about yesterday’s victory for George Galloway is that anyone is surprised about people voting on sectarian lines. Despite having fairly standard Euro-Left policies, the Respect Party is in effect a British Muslim party; the vast majority of its support comes from that community, and Galloway, in Bradford as in Tower Hamlets, has appealed to Muslim concerns. So the Muslim community elected its own MP. Yet people in multi-ethnic societies do tend to vote on ethnic lines. In the United States 96 per cent of African-Americans voted Democrat in 2008, but no one criticised them for it. And Southern whites at the same election voted Republican by 73-27 per cent and in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana 85 per cent voted for the GOP.

    Liberals are baffled and infuriated that poor whites vote Republican, yet voting on tribal grounds is a feature of all multi-ethnic democracies, whether it’s Northern Ireland, Lebanon or Iraq. The more a majority becomes a minority the more tribal its voting becomes, so that increasingly the Republicans have become the “white party”; making this point indelicately got Pat Buchanan the sack, but many others make it too. Will it happen here? The patterns are not dissimilar. In the 2010 election the Conservatives won only 16 per cent of the ethnic minority vote, while Labour won the support of 72 per cent of Bangladeshis, 78 per cent of African-Caribbeans and 87 per cent of Africans. The Tories are slightly stronger among British Hindus and Sikhs – mirroring Republican support among Asian-Americans – who are more likely to be home-owning professionals and feel less alienated.

    It is time to end Labour's Faustian pact with clan elders

    David Goodhart in the Financial Times, 4th April 2012

    ...When postcolonial immigrants started arriving in the 1950s and 1960s, their obvious political home was the Labour party, both because they were mainly poor and because Labour was friendlier that the other parties. To this day almost70 per cent of minority Britons vote Labour. But the unexpected Respect victory has shone a spotlight on the way some groups, especially those with protective, patriarchal cultrues, have been offering themselves wholesale to party manager..."

    Galloway and Aung San Suu Kyi – so alike

    Mark Steel in the Independent

    ...Then we heard a "political analyst" downplay the result by saying: "It's hard to see he could have achieved this outcome in Plymouth or Norwich." Presumably then, if a Tory wins an election in the Cotswolds he says, "Yes he won, but he wouldn't have if the election had been in Sunderland so it doesn't really count." Today he'll tell us, "Aung San Suu Kyi claims the results are a success, but it's hard to see she could have achieved this outcome in Belgium, where Burma is only of minor interest."

    So then they sneer that he won votes by opposing the war in Afghanistan, as if this is cheating. Because the rules are you have to agree with cuts and wars, so on every issue the Tories have to say, "We've cut this", the Liberal Democrats say, "We helped, and it's a good job we were there or the Tories wouldn't have spelt the thing they're cutting properly", then Labour say, "We WOULD have cut it, but we'd have waited until the afternoon".

    But the main issue was the cuts, and one ward in which Galloway won a large majority was the student area, probably because he opposes the tuition fees. And the campaign didn't just win votes; one meeting attracted 1,200 people....So maybe the main thing that's changed is it's proved that people, including the young, can be reconnected with politics. But it helps to be against pointless wars, and making the poor poorer, and to go about it like Galloway, quietly and with humility and never making yourself the centre of attention.

    George Galloway and Jean-Luc Mélenchon expose a huge political gap

    Seamas Milne in the Guardian, 3rd April 2012

    It's true that Galloway's record on western-backed wars and occupations in the Muslim world, and his uncompromising defence of the most demonised community in the country, gave him a particular credibility in a constituency with a 37% Muslim population. And the call for withdrawal from Afghanistan is certainly popular with Muslims – though it's also supported by 70% of the entire country.

    But the central thrust of Galloway's pitch in Bradford was in fact about cuts, tuition fees, unemployment, poverty and the decline of a city neglected and mismanaged by all the main parties. Respect campaigned as "real Labour" against New Labour, while Galloway declared he wanted to "drag Labour in a progressive direction". And far from dividing communities on ethnic or religious lines, he won majorities in every part of the constituency, including the mainly white areas.

    Bradford was a vote against austerity and war, but also against a reviled me-too political establishment, local and national. That alienation has been growing for years, but as cuts are forced through and living standards squeezed further, expect more one-offs whenever the opportunity arises.
    click here for text

    How 'Gorgeous' George Galloway proved me wrong in Bradford West

    Helen Pidd in the Guardian

    ...In Galloway's case his appeal to young Bradfordians of Kashmiri Pakistani heritage is further fired up by his attacks on Tony Blair – not just for his New Labour revisionism, but for his role in the Iraq war. He should be on trial at the Hague, Galloway insists. As MP for a diverse east London seat – lost back to Labour in 2010 – he knows how the dynamic of Pakistani village politics works transposed into British cities.

    How exciting it must have been for the students and workless young people caught up in his campaign. The fact that Imran Hussain was apparently a poor speaker will only have served to underline his message of disdain for the big parties.

    The Westminster citadel will not fall because George Galloway (he tried to become an MSP at Holyrood last year) has boldly got his ladder up and scaled the wall. But politics constantly needs shaking up and his return will shake it up at an unhappy time when all the main parties are in the doldrums. That can never be a bad thing. I can't wait to hear his maiden speech and I don't say that very often.

    Galloway won for some very good reasons

    Patrick Cockburn in the Guardian, 8th April 2012

    The ferocity of the attacks on George Galloway by the British commentariat is one of the most revealing outcomes of his victory in the Bradford West by-election. News presenters saw no problem in conducting interviews with the newly elected MP that were largely a shower of insulting and unproven accusations. Columnists wrote thousands of shrill words warning readers that he and his victory were atypical and had no broader significance for the country. And, if his success did have any relevance, it was the ominous one of illustrating deepening racial division in Britain, despite the fact that Mr Galloway continually explained that he had won in non-Muslim as well as Muslim majority wards.

    All these are important issues, but even raising them invites allegations of demagoguery. For instance, The Economist, after recording that Mr Galloway is "a hate figure for the British establishment", claims he won his seat "mostly by touting his opposition to the war in Afghanistan." (Note the use of the loaded word "touting".) But what should be more relevant to current British politics than the Afghan war where 407 British soldiers have been killed and a small British army of 9,500 is still fighting? It is a conflict in which men and women have died and are dying in vain: their intervention has achieved nothing; the Taliban are not being defeated and this should long have been self-evident.

    Few statements by the new member for Bradford West seem to have enraged pundits so much as his comparison between his own electoral victory and the Arab Spring. One interviewer, her voice rippling with distaste, asked how he could compare his success with a movement in which thousands had died. But Britain does sometimes feel like Egypt, a country in which disasters occur but somehow nobody running the country is ever held responsible and where power circulates within a narrow clique. Decisions on war and peace have been delegated to the US. Wars are fought supposedly to defend Britain against terrorism, when all the evidence is that they provoke it. It says something about the comatose nature of British politics that an effective critic of these failed wars like Mr Galloway, who beats an established party, should be instantly savaged as a self-serving demagogue.
    click here for text

    On Mehdi Hassan's Advice To The Muslim Community

    Sukant Chandan in CounterCurrents.Org

    George Galloway's election victory in Bradford West has rocked the establishment parties, shortly after which well-known writer Mehdi Hassan wrote an opinion piece in the choice newspaper of left-liberal wing of the British white power structure, The Guardian. Hassan bemoans the fact that so many South Asian Muslims in Britain are more concerned about international issues pertaining to their community and politics in South Asia than they are concerned with domestic issues such as "reforms of the NHS to the future of local schools; from the lack of social housing to rising energy bills and train fares."

    Perhaps Hassan doesn't see it this way, but the context of this article in the narrow sense is Galloway's victory in Bradford, and in the wider perspective it is written in the debates around Britishness, identity and how this all related to British neo-colonialism and white supremacy.

    British Muslims have given David Cameron an object lesson in democracy

    Parveen Akhtar in the Guardian, 13th April 2012

    The ferocity of the attacks on George Galloway by the British commentariat is one of the most revealing outcomes of his victory in the Bradford West by-election. News presenters saw no problem in conducting interviews with the newly elected MP that were largely a shower of insulting and unproven accusations. Columnists wrote thousands of shrill words warning readers that he and his victory were atypical and had no broader significance for the country. And, if his success did have any relevance, it was the ominous one of illustrating deepening racial division in Britain, despite the fact that Mr Galloway continually explained that he had won in non-Muslim as well as Muslim majority wards.

    All these are important issues, but even raising them invites allegations of demagoguery. For instance, The Economist, after recording that Mr Galloway is "a hate figure for the British establishment", claims he won his seat "mostly by touting his opposition to the war in Afghanistan." (Note the use of the loaded word "touting".) But what should be more relevant to current British politics than the Afghan war where 407 British soldiers have been killed and a small British army of 9,500 is still fighting? It is a conflict in which men and women have died and are dying in vain: their intervention has achieved nothing; the Taliban are not being defeated and this should long have been self-evident.

    Few statements by the new member for Bradford West seem to have enraged pundits so much as his comparison between his own electoral victory and the Arab Spring. One interviewer, her voice rippling with distaste, asked how he could compare his success with a movement in which thousands had died. But Britain does sometimes feel like Egypt, a country in which disasters occur but somehow nobody running the country is ever held responsible and where power circulates within a narrow clique. Decisions on war and peace have been delegated to the US. Wars are fought supposedly to defend Britain against terrorism, when all the evidence is that they provoke it. It says something about the comatose nature of British politics that an effective critic of these failed wars like Mr Galloway, who beats an established party, should be instantly savaged as a self-serving demagogue.
    click here for text

    Labour has gone a bit mad since Bradford West

    Salma Yaqoob in the Guardian

    ...Well, people are rejecting the neoliberal consensus. They don't necessarily have the language, because it hasn't been articulated. But when people like Caroline Lucas and George Galloway articulate it, and people get a chance to hear that message, they vote for it. Because that's where people are at.

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