Great Bradford West Bake-Off

Don’t believe the orchestrated Twitter hype; Labour is going to win today’s Bradford West by-election, and comfortably so. What ‘buzz’ surrounds a shock victory is part double-bluff and mind-games, and part the result of the decreasing interest in covering parliamentary by-elections. Anything for an ‘angle’, even if that comes just the day before polling day and comes across as a hurriedly scribbled puff-piece.

Every democracy has its ‘cuckoo cabal’, from which one curiosity or general odd-ball is plucked every month for a run of rent-a-quotes and media appearances before being plonked back into the pen. Australia has Pauline Hanson, the United States has…..the Republican Party, I guess…..and the United Kingdom can choose from an assortment of men (Nigel Farage, Richard Littlejohn) and a handful of women (notably Nadine Dorries).  This month’s choice of notable numpty is George Galloway, scourge of the pro-Iraq war lobby, Americans (mostly Republicans, it would seem) and the Labour Party. The man who would be remembered solely as one of the greatest orators in Britain were it not for *that* reality TV moment (“would you like me to be a cat?) has been stepping-stone his way back to full credibility having chosen to fight the Poplar and Limehouse constituency two years ago at the general election. He lost, and has been trying to get back to electoral victory since.

Bradford West is not going to be a site of that victory. It’s not just a matter of statistics – it would take an unprecedented standing start win. This campaign has been Galloway acting as the Grand Statesman, whose past pronouncements have been at least within the park of accuracy. It has not been “George comes for your votes” so much as “An anti-Labour roadshow comes to Bradford”. Whilst I would always prefer the defeat of Labour candidates, a Galloway victory would be a success for him, not the constituency. I say that in my humble and personal opinion – Galloway is known to be litigious – only the other day, in fact.

Labour candidate Imran Hussain is in the current mould of that party’s choices – nice, dull, unlikely to rock boats, known in the constituency but that’s about all. Hussain will melt into the backbenches, along side the current roll call of Labour by-election winners during this parliament. How many household names can you recognise – Jon Ashworth, Seema Malhotra, Debbie Abrahams?

Labour need to win Bradford West, and they will. They are still in a dire state – led by the wrong brother, struggling to provide a coherent political message, embarrassingly shrill on the economy. The current ‘buzz’ around Galloway is nothing more than Labour activists doing what they’re told through group emails and on-high instructions; by this time tomorrow, we’ll have to wade through the similarly depressing gloop of spin about ‘Ed Miliband winning against the odds!”. 

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