George Galloway wins Bradford West seat
Respect Party candidate George Galloway has won a landslide victory in Bradford West, and is claiming that the result represents a "Bradford spring".
The result was a huge blow for Labour which was the favourite to retain the seat. Labour's candidate Imran Hussain was crushed by a 36.59 per cent swing from Labour to Respect that saw Galloway take the seat with a majority of 10,140.
Mr Galloway won at least 50 per cent of the vote in some areas, leading him to claim that it was "the most sensational result in British by-election history bar none".
During his campaign, Mr Galloway targeted the votes of the large Muslim community in Bradford.
The Daily Telegraph reported that, at rally after rally, he spoke of his opposition to “Western imperialists” who were killing “millions of Muslims”.
Mr Galloway sent Muslim voters a letter in which he proclaimed that only God knows who the real Muslims are. He then listed his Islamic virtues:
“I, George Galloway, do not drink alcohol and never have... I, George Galloway have fought for Muslims at home and abroad, all of my life... I, George Galloway, tell the truth...I, George Galloway, hold Pakistan’s highest civil awards...I, George Galloway, came to the side of the people of Palestine in their agony...”
The letter refers to “the Grace of God” and says that “if God wills it” he will give his remaining days in service to the people of Bradford West.
Mr Galloway has caused major controversy in the past with his support for Islamic regimes around the world and his hostility to Israel.
In 1994 he was filmed telling Saddam Hussein: “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability,” although he later claimed that he was speaking to the Iraqi people in general.
During a 9 March 2005 interview at the University of Dhaka campus Mr Galloway called for a global alliance between Muslims and progressives:
"Not only do I think it’s possible but I think it is vitally necessary and I think it is happening already. It is possible because the progressive movement around the world and the Muslims have the same enemies. Their enemies are the Zionist occupation, American occupation, British occupation of poor countries mainly Muslim countries."
Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone is following similar campaign tactics. Last week he told Muslim voters that he would make the capital city a ‘beacon of Islam’.
In a speech at the North London Central Mosque, also known as the Finsbury Park Mosque, the Labour candidate said that he was determined to “educate the mass of Londoners” about Islam.
“I want to spend the next four years making sure that every non-muslim in London knows and understands [its] words and message. That will help to cement our city as a beacon that demonstrates the meaning of the words of the Prophet”, he said.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:
“George Galloway is playing a dangerous game. Courting the Muslim vote and pandering to it will have far reaching implications, not just for Bradford but far beyond.”