31 Mar 2012

Maverick politician humiliates British Labour party

4:52 pm on 31 March 2012

The former Labour MP George Galloway has won a surprise return to the British parliament after winning a by-election in Yorkshire, northern England.

Running for his left-wing Respect Party, Mr Galloway swept to victory in the Bradford West, dealing a heavy blow to his former party, Labour, which had held the seat for decades.

Mr Galloway, 57, served as a politician from 1987 to 2010, but was expelled from the Labour Party in 2003 after publicly denouncing Britain's involvement in the Iraq invasion.

Mr Galloway won the by-election by 10,140 votes, overturning a Labour majority of more than 5,000 at the 2010 general election.

The seat became vacant after the Labour MP Marsha Singh resigned from Parliament on health grounds. The seat has a large Asian population.

Mr Galloway told the BBC that his win represented a "peaceful democratic uprising" against the established political parties and their leaders.

"There are very large numbers of people completely disenchanted and alienated from the political process and from the mainstream political parties... There is no difference between the Tories, the Lib Dems and New Labour, or at least not a sufficient difference for anyone to notice or care," he said.

The Labour Party leader Ed Miliband said "local factors" were partly to blame but pledged to "learn lessons" from the defeat.

The Conservatives were a distant third and their coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, lost its deposit with less than 5% of the vote.

At the 2010 election, Respect won just 3% in Bradford West, but in the by-election took 56% while both the Conservatives and Labour's vote fell by just over 20%.