George Galloway seems to have paid the price for a lack of on-ground delivery in Bradford after losing a 10,000 plus majority to Labour’s Naz Shah.
The pro-Muslim, anti-war candidate, who has twice been propelled into parliament on the back of the “Muslim vote,” won just 8,557 votes to Shah’s 19,977.
After thanking her supporters in her victory speech, Shah criticised Galloway, saying: “I thank all my opponents, with the exception of one, who all convicted themselves really deeply to, and fought to be elected on, issues and and in the spirit of friendly rivalry. To Mr Galloway I say that your campaign demeaned our democracy but personal attacks on me have not worked. The people of Bradford West have seen through this and you have been sent on your way.”
In response, in a speech after Shah’s, Galloway said: “I don’t begrudge the Labour members here their moment of celebration of course. But there will be others who are already celebrating: the venal, the vile, the racists and the Zionists will all be celebrating. The hyena can bounce on the lion’s grave but it can never be a lion and in any case, I’m not in my grave. As a matter of fact I’m going off now to plan the next campaign.”
It also emerged that Galloway was reported to the police on Thursday afternoon for a possible contravention of the law preventing the early publication of exit polls. Galloway reposted a Twitter a message saying “early exit polls suggest 2 votes for @georgegalloway to every 1 for @nazshah”. Galloway later deleted the tweet.
Three years ago Galloway called his 2012 by-election win the “Bradford Spring,” but despite being relatively unknown – and despite being chosen as the Labour candidate just a few months before the election – Shah benefited from long-held loyalties to Labour in the city.
Bradford West is dominated by the politics of biraderi – kinship-based bloc voting that is traditional in Pakistan and has been adopted by some British Pakistanis.
When Galloway won the by-election in 2012 it was supposedly by rejecting this system and appealing to young voters. But they appear to have concluded that Galloway is more interested in global geopolitics and grand speeches than delivering on local issues in Bradford.
The Scot is now thought to be planning a bid to become mayor of London.