A warning sign: 'Risk of violence' after Galloway victory

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George Galloway returned to parliament after the 'Bradford earthquake'
George Galloway returned to parliament after the 'Bradford earthquake'

George Galloway's victory in Bradford West reflects a "political vacuum" which could lead to the rise of extremism and violence, a report has warned.

Detailed analysis from Lewis Baston of Democratic Audit led him to conclude voters were alienated by the weak nature of local politics in the city, which he said was dominated by "mutual accommodation" between the 'Asian', city whites and suburbanites elites.

Galloway shocked the country by winning 18,341 votes, a 56% share and over 10,000 votes more than the Labour candidate in the March 2012 by-election.

His win, in what should have been a safe seat for Labour, was partly the result of Labour and the Conservatives pursuing 'biraderi', or clan-based loyalty, Baston suggested.


The report found Galloway's Respect party benefited from a "locally-generated upsurge of political activity" which took advantage of the city's "pervasive sense of neglect and decline".

Baston acknowledged the circumstances which led to the 'Bradford earthquake' were "unique" but warned political parties against viewing it as an "aberration".

"It indicates the vulnerability of apparent strongholds when a number of factors come
together, and should give both major parties pause for thought about their relationship with the core voters they take for granted," his report, which was commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, concluded.

"The result should not be dismissed as an emotional spasm or a mistake by the electors of Bradford, but as a very clear repudiation of the local power structure and the way that national politics is conducted."

The report has already been noted by some Labour MPs. Shadow minister Gavin Shuker tweeted: "Baston's report 'The Bradford Earthquake' should be required reading for Labour activists. We can't duck its findings."

But local party leaders have rejected the basic findings of the report.

"I am clear that there is an issue of direction that we need to go in – community cohesion – so I don't accept there is a political vacuum," Bradford council leader David Green told the Bradford Telegraph and Argus newspaper.

"I am not saying we have got things right; but it has been recognised for a number of years that there is an issue of integration of different communities within the district, not just based on religion and colour – we have got the recent migration from Eastern Europe."

Labour continued to suffer setbacks in Bradford after Galloway's win. Respect won five seats in May 2012's local elections, ending Labour's majority control of the city council.

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