For several years, after being expelled from the Labour Party, George Galloway worked in the shadows.
For several years, after being expelled from the Labour Party, George Galloway worked in the shadows. When he announced he was standing as an MP in Bradford West for the independent Respect Party in the forthcoming by-election, many had laughed him off. It was a safe Labour seat, they thought, considering the party had held it since 1974.
He wasn’t going to win.
That was the situation, until the results were announced. Galloway won. It was unexpected, as Galloway defeated the Labour candidate Imran Hussein by 10,140 votes. As the BBC’s Chris Mason noted in his analysis, this wasn’t about choosing who will be part of the next government, but sending a message through the candidate the voters in the constituency selected. ‘[Labour] must stop imagining that working people and poor people have no option but to support them if they hate the Tory and Liberal Democrat coalition partners,’ Galloway told the crowd after the results were announced. Shortly afterwards, Ed Miliband told reporters that he’d journey to Bradford West and meet with constituents to discuss where, in their minds, Labour went wrong.
The Liberal Democrats
For The Liberal Democrats however, Galloway’s win was more difficult to accept, as they lost their deposit. Yet, Nick Clegg was optimistic about the party’s future. ‘This is the time to be proud to be a Liberal Democrat,’ Clegg said according to reports before a visit to Stockport to kick off the party’s local elections campaign. ‘We’ve always worked hard and delivered for people locally but for the first time in living memory, we are doing that nationally too. The Liberal Democrats are delivering for ordinary people in government.’
The Lib Dem-Conservative coalition has been split over a wide variety of issues, including the UK’s participation in the EU and some differences within members over the plans to reform the NHS. A major criticism though came from a key supporter of the Conservatives, Alexandra Swann, who joined UKIP last month. Writing in the Guardian, Swann said she did it with no intentions of criticizing the Conservatives, but felt they were ‘all too happy in bed with the Lib Dems.’
Although Swann wrote that the Prime Minister was doing the best he could with the situation, she still had concerns about the party’s path moving forward. ‘Many feel that the modern Conservative party can no longer be trusted to support wealth creation and free businesses from the mindless bureaucracy and tax burdens that stand between our current situation and economic growth,’ Swann wrote. ‘The Conservative party used to be one of aspiration, now it is one of appeasement.’
Galloway’s election certainly did send a message, as the Conservative support waned to 36 percent according to a Guardian/ICM poll released in February. Labour is one point ahead and the Lib Dems approval is at 14 percent. The line to walk for the coalition, especially for the Lib Dems, is a very fine one at the moment. What happens next will certainly play an influence in the next campaign, and indeed the 2015 general election.
To quote a famous saying: For the constituents, think before you act.