Bradford West: the Party Must Hold Its Nerve and Stand by Ed Miliband

George Galloway’s victory in Bradford West for the RESPECT party is enormously significant.

Let us first address the dismissive sneering of critics like Tulip Siddiq at Labour List:

Why have young Muslim voters lost confidence in Labour to the point where they would rather have someone like Galloway represent them in Parliament? Someone who mercilessly manipulates Islam to suit his own needs. Someone who unashamedly neglected his former constituents in one of the most deprived boroughs in the country. Someone whose voting record in Parliament is virtually nonexistent.

If Tulip wonders why “someone like Galloway” is elected, perhaps they should also ask why the Labour Party selected George to run in Glasgow Hillhead, a seat he represented for the Labour Party for 16 years. Let us also remember that the issue that George was expelled from the Labour Party over in 2003 was a trumped up charge that aspired to silence George’s principled opposition to the disastrous Iraq war; where not only was George correct, but he was more closely attuned to the opinions of Labour voters than the party’s front bench team.

It is important for Labour not to fall for idea of George as a manipulative maverick, becasue that betrays a patronising contempt for the electorate who chose to vote for George Galloway.

So Ed Miliband and Iain McNichol are absolutely right when they say

Clearly there were local factors, our polling and work on the ground did not show the late surge of votes, and there are important lessons to be learned from this. But let no one claim this as a combination of extraordinary factors that means we can dismiss the result as exceptional.

Tulip is wrong and dismissive to say that George “neglected his former constituents in one of the most deprived boroughs in the country”. As RESPECT MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Galloway ran an efficient and effective constituency office that campaigned over local issues, and took case work of constituents extremely seriously. Sadly, the Bradford West result demonstates that the electors of that constituency feels that it is Labour that has neglected them, despite it also being one of the most deprived boroughs. It would be easy for the Party to seek to minimise this defeat by making excuses about the local and exceptional factors; but Ed Miliband demonstrates again why he is the right person to lead the party by taking a braver and more positive stance:

We will go back to the constituency in the coming weeks to talk to people there about why this happened. And we will act fast to make any changes that are needed.

Above all last night reinforces something we have been saying since we came into our roles; we need to be engaged and rooted in every community of this country.

We need to show to people that our politics, that Labour politics, can make a difference to people’s lives. That means changing. We must change to win.

We are changing the party to win the next election. Last night showed that this change must be faster and more profound. This is why we are going through this vital process of renewal. If the Labour Party is to be the most effective community organisation in the country you are the people to make that happen. This work must now continue with even greater commitment and enthusiasm.

One of the important issues where George connected with the voters was his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The deep political alienation felt by many Muslims due to the immoral and shameless British invasion of Iraq is real, not a creation of Galloway’s. George Galloway’s opposition to imperialism and war is fundamental to his political principles, not a manipulative trick. Indeed, why would someone of George’s talents turn away from what could have been a glittering career of high political office in favour of a precarious existence at the edge of the political mainstream, unless it were from true conviction.

Anti-imperialism is central to underrstanding George, and also central to understanding RESPECT. I have long argued that RESPECT is essentialy a labourist party, but one that is differentiated from the Labour Party by its fundamental opposition to the imperial legacy and pretensions of the British state. The labourist tradition, informed by the pragmatic aspirations of the trade unions, has oriented around the project of securing reform through holding power in the existing British state, and that has always involved compromise with the imperial past and its legacy of alliance with the USA in the present. Of course the Labour Party has always included those like Ken Livingstone who also oppose imperialism and war, but the Iraq war created a vacuum for Labour voters who wished to stay true to their social democratic beliefs, but who wanted to express their opposition to the war at the ballot box. The creation of Respect filled that gap, and where the demographic accident of concentrations of working class Muslim voters in some constituences provided a critical mass this allowed Resect to be a localised viable electoral party. This process was of course helped by the depth of talent and imagination in Respect, from, for example, George Galloway and Salma Yaqoob, but also to give credit where it is due, from John Rees and Lindsay German.

Many years ago when Eric Hobsbawm wrote about the increasing diversity of social and cultural expereince in British working class life, he acknowledged the threat that this posed to monolithic labourism; and as the SNP, Plaid, the Greens and RESPECT now all hold former Labour constituencies, it is necessary for the Labour Party to recognise that the political context has changed, as Caroline Lucas once put it, from one big tent, to a campsite, where Labour have the biggest tent. All of these parties share some of the social democratic values of the Labour Party, explicitly so in the case of RESPECT and Plaid, but also have differentiating features that are hard to contain within the envelope of labourism. The Labour Party needs to have the maturity to realise that in this changed context it is not enough to create a coalition of interests and views within the Labour Party, it is also necessary to reach out to those with shared values in other parties. This will be hard for some with an attachment to some of the more tribal habits of labourism, but it is essential if – for example – we are to get the necessary second preferences for the London mayoral election.

Galloway’s victory in Bradford West suggests the possibility of Respect being a permanent part of the political landscape, revitalising the possibility of RESPECT challenges in East London and Birmingham. RESPECT gives expression to a political opposition to imperialist war at the ballot box, in a way that is entirey healthy and progressive. But we must recognise that only the Labour Party poses a credible alternative for forming a government that can enact legislation in the interests of working people, and therefore Labour remains indispensible at the heart of progressive politics.

There are several lessons for Labour from this result, but one must be that there is a significant appetite among parts of the electorate for what George Galloway describes as “real Labour” values. Of course, Labour cannot win a general election by only appealing to that constituency, but nor can it ignore it. Ed Miliband is completely right that the message from Bradford West has to be a determination for Labour to reconnect with communities, and to advocate Labour’s values of compassion, equality and social justice.

I am sure that there will be some Blairites who take malicious comfort in the Bradford West by-election, thinking that it could be used to destabilise Ed Miliband. We need to ensure that doesn’t happen. The message from Bradford West is that Ed Miliband’s mission to move the party on from the mistakes and hubris of New Labour is necessary and right. Bradford West shows that Labour needs to hold its nerve, stand behind Ed Miliband, and dare to be Labour.

155 comments on “Bradford West: the Party Must Hold Its Nerve and Stand by Ed Miliband

  1. history tells us things on said:

    ‘We need to show to people that our politics, that Labour politics, can make a difference to people’s lives. That means changing. We must change to win.’

    We are changing the party to win the next election. Last night showed that this change must be faster and more profound. This is why we are going through this vital process of renewal. If the Labour Party is to be the most effective community organisation in the country you are the people to make that happen. This work must now continue with even greater commitment and enthusiasm.’

    This would include Liam Byrne’s plans to go even further than the Tories(for now) endorsing workfare and proposing ‘job guarantees’ which is refused mean losing benefit for six months, very progressive…

  2. Jim Allen on said:

    Andy is spectacularly wrong. The only real political ramifications of this result is that Ed Miliband is not a popular personality in politics, which chimes with the mood nationally. The result is a bitter blow for the Labour left who have been trying to bolster Ed in recent weeks.

    Obviously there is the foreign policy issue where Muslims have been greatly angered by the toppling of Gaddafi and the uprising against Assad, but that rather reflect badly on themselves than anything else. It has no political effects.

    Who would have thought Galloway would have handed power back to the Blairites? Strange world.

  3. Vincent Doherty on said:

    Surely the problem with Milliband as with his Blairite predecessors is the fact that they refuse point blank to break from imperialism on any single issue.More than anything else George Galloway stands as a beacon in the struggle against Zionist apartheid and for a free democratic Palestine. Those who still think Milliband and his ilk can be won to a position of opposition to imperialism have left the campsite entirely and are living in the woods with the fairy’s.

  4. A very thoughtful article Andy, although I guess I reluctantly agree with your conclusion. Not cos I have any like for Milliband – I think he’s awful. But because there’s no other unifying figure who really could take on the Tories right now. No one in Labour is close to it, which effectively means if Milliband goes, he’d be replaced by someone to his right.

    I have the luxury of not working within the Labour Party, which kind of denies me the credibility to give advice. Social Democracy in the UK is in trouble, and has been for a long time, and it’s hard to see how we can get out of it. I think it’s true to say that Labour could make an amazing case against austerity and neo-liberalism right now, and it has a few years to really establish the arguments on the ground – except there’s no one at the top of the party to make those arguments, so it’s just unrealistic to demand it. Labour could use Galloway’s victory to move to the left, but it won’t – and the Blairites are just itching to show that Milliband is a failure, so they can align themselves more closely with the Tories.

    I’ll finish by quoting from Mark Steel’s twitter post this morning: Maybe now Labour will learn to oppose stupid wars, and not have leaders who are fucking useless

  5. 1. Plainly it would not, nor can the delightful Mr Byrne expect to achieve his Mayoral ambitions.

    “fundamental opposition to the imperial legacy and pretensions of the British state.” A terribly important phrase and a key faultline in British and English politics and within the Labour Party.

    Many of the component parts of Labour’s vote are hostile to the ‘pretensions of the British State’ either because of historical or political reasons or because its the youth of their community who will come home maimed or dead.

    This is a real political issue that Labour cannot ignore with impunity not least because its the electorate see money is always available for specious wars but not for the welfare of the people. The Blarites defend this nonsense and any weakening of their grip on the Labour Party is a desirable outcome.

  6. The only hope I see for Labour now is if Galloway’s victory, the sheer magnitude of it, creates an opportunity for the left within the party. Blairism is dead. If Galloway’s victory isn’t clear evidence of that then nothing is.

    Miliband’s leadership is more vulnerable now than it has ever been. If the party replaces him with someone on the right of the party it will put Labour back further and render it even more out of touch than it currently is.

  7. John

    I fear that appreciation of the magnitude of what has happened will not perculate through the party, divorced as it is from the more mundane experience of working the doorstep, which is effective in getting the vote out but relatively ineffective at judging what voters actually think.

    My experience over the last weeks is a very positive identification with Labour by many voters.

  8. Zayban on said:

    A terribly important phrase and a key faultline in British and English politics and within the Labour Party.

    It’s only a key fault line for a hand full of people inside the Labour party. There was broad support to help the Libyan revolution, and although most don’t want to use airstrikes on Assad, they still think democracy in that country would be a good thing. Labour won’t be making the mistake of thinking the views of mainly Pakistani* voters on foreign policy means they have to make some big shift. The only lesson here is Ed Miliband is not personally popular, not much else.

    *The news that it was mainly Pakistani voters that backed Galloway is interesting. I remember seeing the scenes of Koreans crying in the street when kim jong il died whilst I was at work, and joking to my friend “we really loved him”. He looked back seriously and said, “yes, he was a great leader and served his country well. He gave them the nuclear bomb and there people are very rich. A great patriot.” He was shocked when I said kim jong il was one of the worst leaders in the world and there had been several famines. He said he was going to have to check this out of google, it was news to him. Staggering.

    It was a little mirror into the way people from different parts of the world see things. I don’t know how any Labour candidate could compete with Galloway giving his history of relations with Arab strong men.

  9. Morning Star comment

    A stunning and political win
    Friday 30 March 2012

    George Galloway’s stunning by-election victory in Bradford West, with a massive 55.9 per cent of the poll, is unprecedented in its magnitude.

    For a representative of one of the three main parliamentary parties to poll over 50 per cent is unusual.

    For someone outside the mainstream to haul in so many votes is unique.

    Galloway’s success has met the usual tidal wave of trivialisation by the media and spokespeople for the parties whose candidates he trounced.

    Voices that ascribed his defeat in the 2010 general election to an appearance in a red catsuit on Big Brother suggest now that voter recognition based on that TV show made him a shoo-in in Bradford.

    Politicians pass off the Bradford by-election as a “one-off.” Every by-election is a one-off, but none has ever delivered such a tsunami of popular discontent.

    Much has been made of Galloway’s supposed use of the “race card” or the propensity for Muslim voters to back him.

    But how can a “blue-eyed white man,” as he describes himself, play the race card against his principal opponent who is of Pakistani Kashmiri origin, the grandson of Azad Kashmiri Assembly former deputy speaker Chaudhry Azam Pothi and nephew of Pakistani People’s Party president Mirpur Zulfikar Azam?

    An ethnic breakdown of Bradford West shows 38 per cent of voters as of Pakistani Muslim background, so even if every single person matching this description ticked Galloway – which clearly they didn’t – he piled up another 18 percentage points plus from elsewhere.

    What neither the Establishment media nor the Westminster villagers can admit is that the working-class electorate of this constituency, from whatever ethnic or religious background, voted politically.

    They voted in four successive general elections for Marsha Singh, from a Punjabi Sikh background, who distinguished himself as part of the principled minority of Labour MPs to campaign and vote against Tony Blair’s illegal invasion of Iraq.

    Far from Galloway’s campaign playing identity cards, it was his Labour opponent’s team that was reduced, once earlier complacency was punctured on the doorstep, to raising such matters in a desperate scrabble for votes.

    Labour hopeful Imran Hussain was not best served by the cards dealt by his party minders, who ensured that he was on message in backing the military “mission” in Afghanistan and prevented him from speaking at hustings, confirming their lack of confidence in his ability.

    New Labour control-freakery remains self-evidently alive and unwell in the party apparatus.

    Ed Miliband declared his determination “that we learn the lessons of what happened,” although his subsequent comments about local factors, being rooted in every community and showing that “Labour politics can make a difference to people’s lives” show no awareness of the scale of political alienation.

    It isn’t just the plethora of foreign wars from Iraq to Afghanistan, with Syria and Iran on the wish list, that turns off traditional Labour voters.

    The curse of New Labour lives on in support for the cuts agenda in response to capitalism’s crisis and indifference to working-class calls for a new direction.

    Labour may comfort itself with current opinion polls, but they have arisen through coalition own-goals not enthusiastic support for Labour policies.

    Bradford West should serve as a warning of further one-offs in the future if Labour fails to heed the clamour for change from a bankers’ agenda to a people’s agenda.

  10. #8

    Zayban: I don’t know how any Labour candidate could compete with Galloway giving his history of relations with Arab strong men.

    are relations with Arab governments normally regarded as electorally popular?

  11. Zayban on said:

    are relations with Arab governments normally regarded as electorally popular?

    No, absolutely not. The Pakistanis are quite a unique constituency.

  12. A good argument on why the Blairites are wrong, from Labour List

    3. Anti-leadership Blairites, The argument
    “Bradford West shows that Labour is not an effective opposition. Ed Miliband needs to go. Conveniently.”

    The response
    Yeah, but has there been a major public utterance by any politician of any party since 2010 that you have not claimed gave irrefutable weight to your argument? We lost this one ten points ahead in the polls. If you think Bradford changes all that, all I can say is, good luck running a campaign in Bradford West against George Galloway, with a former Brown Foreign Secretary as your leader.

    Palpable nonsense, anonymously briefed to the press at any available opportunity, for completely selfish reasons. Though I did notice that they weren’t around for the ten point poll lead to tell us all that Ed is a good lad and should definitely stay. So should they be trusted as sources of insight?

  13. Zayban on said:

    12.Zayban’s main argument here seems to be that foreigners are stupid and immigrants’ political views should be dismissed

    That’s a rather imflammatory way of putting. But yes, there is a different culture in the more human rights focused, democratic mentality of Europe compared to Pakistan. Being seen as a plunky supporter of dictators has a limited appeal here.

  14. ” Labour won’t be making the mistake of thinking the views of mainly Pakistani* voters on foreign policy means they have to make some big shift. The only lesson here is Ed Miliband is not personally popular, not much else.”

    Two things here, one if you think the adventure wars are only unpopular with Pakistani voters you are well short of the mark. The wars are generally unpopular for a variety of reasons.

    Secondly it would be hard to assemble any evidence that the Bradford vote was a result of Milliband’s personal unpopularity there. But if you think you have it by all means set it out for us.

  15. Zayban on said:

    SA, I’m not talking specifically about the wars Britain has been involved. I dare day a good chunk of this voter group oppose the Arab spring itself. Galloway himself has declared his support for Assad, supports the regime in Iran and opposed the Libyan revolution. That’s why he mockingly called his byelection victory the Bradford spring, isn’t it?

    These people are entitled to their views, but I don’t think supporting strong men against the west is particularly popular in the rest of the country, whatever ones views on war.

    As to Miliband, obviously we’re being asked to make a judgement of the situation and Miliband is not creating enthusiasm. He has a great opportunity with the cuts and the recession, and Tory disaray, but he doesn’t seem to be the man people want to see in number ten. People across all communities no longer fear the Tories and seem quite happy to play around with joke candidates that quite clearly won’t do anything for them and will be on to the next challenge in a year or so.

    The Galloway result may lead to the complete collapse of the post New Labour experiment.

  16. Strategist on said:

    >>> Someone who unashamedly neglected his former constituents in one of the most deprived boroughs in the country. Someone whose voting record in Parliament is virtually nonexistent.

    Andy is wrong just to label the parroting of this blatant lie by some New Labour turd as “wrong and dismissive”. It was always a lie. The idea was to use Galloway’s record of wasting little valuable time attending pointless votes in the House of Commons as a means of painting him as “lazy” and “neglectful of his constituents”, which of course he never was. It was a deliberate propaganda trick, it did work to an extent, and that is why they continually bray it (after having gone on about Big Brother for the millionth time).

    The sad truth is that a sorry hack like Tulip really knows no better than to think a good parliamentarian is someone who keeps their mouth shut (except to go yah-boo at question time), troops through the lobbies for all the whipped votes, and supports his or her constituents by doing a bit of lite civic boosterism, but never anything that could actually risk being thought political. Fortunately the voters knew better this time, in this place.

    Otherwise I totally agree with this article. Anybody on the Labour Left who wants E. Miliband out needs to say who they’ve got lined up who could both win a leadership campaign and do better. And of course they’ve got no-one.

  17. Strategist on said:

    #21 I’ve just seen that Tony Collins dealt with this extremely well in comments #57-60 to the Bradford Spring post. And wasting time on dealing with people like Tulip and Paul Fauvet on this question is a big mistake.

    What is interesting to me now is that although I agree with Caroline Lucas’s “it is necessary for the Labour Party to recognise that the political context has changed, from one big tent, to a campsite, where Labour have the biggest tent” in principle, in reality there is going to be no electoral reform and we are (for the time being) going back to two party politics in the vast majority of England. (Scotland, Wales, Brighton and Bradford may be luckier, & I envy them, but it’s not a prospect for many other places elsewhere.) So, Andy is absolutely right that Miliband should be appluaded for saying he will go to Bradford and listen and ask what it will take to get people enthused about politics.

    Meanwhile, there’s only one task for anyone on the left in London or the South East of England, get out there on the streets and work to get a similar election bandwagon rolling for Ken Livingstone in London.

  18. Zayban: Galloway himself has declared his support for Assad, supports the regime in Iran and opposed the Libyan revolution.

    Galloway was never opposed to revolution in Libya. He voiced numerous times his dislike of Gaddafi. What he was and is opposed to is western led and directed regime change hiding behind the smokescreen of revolution, as we saw take place in Libya. Re Iran, he supports the right of Iranians to choose their own leaders and governments without western interference. Not sure about you, but I regard this as the only principled position to take for progressives in this part of the world. He understands that the real enemy is at home.

  19. A victory is a victory,even if George had not to wash away, the sand between his toes.

  20. Hospital Worker on said:

    I’m a bit scarred from the fallout from the split, but well done GG and big hugs to the people of Bradford. I went to work yesterday with a massive smile on my face because our side won. I went around vulnerable people’s homes in East London, people who still remember George. They said “people hate him, but they hate him because he stood up for us”. Fantastic result for Respect to gain a safe seat, even if I’m no longer a member. All the best

  21. “front bench team”?

    Is that gross error a slip or deliberate? Answers please on a postcard to Andy Newman.
    ……………………………
    George was expelled from the Labour Party over in 2003 was a trumped up charge that aspired to silence George’s principled opposition to the disastrous Iraq war; where not only was George correct, but he was more closely attuned to the opinions of Labour voters than the party’s front bench team.
    ……………………

    2003! The heyday of the of the blairite neocon GOVERNMENT!

  22. Just trying to collect evidence that the Labour frontbench and/or Miliband is really doing anything to distance itself from NewLab. Looking…sifting…inspecting…investigating…scanning…er….no…nothing coming up on the dial at the moment…still looking…No. Sorry, guv, nothing to report. All clear.

  23. I’ve not been round these parts for a bit so I think I’ve missed a crucial part in the thinking here. This used to be a very pro-Respect place. So, GG has won a seat for Respect? Not for GG? Yet again, George has shown that he is the only person since the CP’s victories in 1945 who can win a left of Labour parliamentary election. So, why aren’t you, Andy and other Respect party people (I stood for Respect in the Greater London elections), saying this is the start of something big for Respect? Why is it now ‘all shoulders to the Miliband wheel?’

    As I say, I must have missed some crucial chapter in the story here.

  24. #20

    Zayban: As to Miliband, obviously we’re being asked to make a judgement of the situation and Miliband is not creating enthusiasm

    Ed Miliband is doing well compared to most leaders of the opposition in the post war period. Labour are doing well in the polls, and that is all that can be asked of him electorally. BUt he has also opened a space for the party to move on from the Blair years, it is up to us if we wsh to make the most of that opportunity

  25. prianikoff on said:

    Ed Miliband could get a million more votes for Labour if he committed the party to :-

    1) Abolition of Student Tuition Fees.
    2) Restoration of EMA
    3) Supporting Public sector workers against the cuts.
    4) Ending the privatisation of the NHS.
    5) Bringing Free schools and Academies back into LEA control.
    6) Pulling British troops out of Afghanistan.

    Members of the Labour Party need to fight for greater democracy in the party and for socialist policies.

  26. Charlie Maguire on said:

    I must have missed Ed’s step away from the policies of New Labour, amid his support for ‘intervention’ in Libya, the admission that his cuts programme would have been almost as deep as the Tories, and his condemnation of every strike that has taken place over the past 18 months. The truth is that Labour is finished as a genuinely social-democratic party, i.e a party that combines wooly socialist rhetoric, with reformist policies that use the state to ameliorate the worst inequalities of capitalism. Like Blair’s Labour, and Brown’s Labour, Ed’s Labour does not hold to that very limited objective and programme. Blair’s Third Way was an emptying of all social democratic content from the shell of Labour, and nothing that Miliband has said or done in the past 18 months could lead anyone to believe that he somehow holds to a fundamentally different conception.

    I am glad that Labour took such a drubbing in Bradford and find it inspiring that people there were brave enough to embrace a far better and more radical alternative.

  27. Dakotadogsbody on said:

    history tells us things,

    NuLabour is still NuLabour.

    It is sadly incapable of reform. It’s middle-class leadership has, or wishes to have, little or no understanding of the needs of the working poor and those who are unable to work.

    NuLabour will not defeat this ragbag coalition government. There is no genuine enthusiasm for our politically inept opposition nor their acolytes in Westminster.

    We have a triplet of mainstream parties that are becoming irrelevant to the needs of the British people. The genuine party of the left in Scotland has shown how enthusiasm for policies that benefit the working class and poor can lead to a confident and grateful electorate.

    I write this as someone who held office and worked tirelessly for the old Labour party for 39 years. Never again.

  28. skidmarx on said:

    Ed Miliband could get a million more votes for Labour if he committed the party to :-
    leopards changing their spots.

  29. redcogs on said:

    How sad that so many people of intellect can allow themselves to collapse into a ‘there is no alternative to Labour’ coma just at the moment when other potentials become possible.

    Labour, new or old, will not be a vehicle for socialist change. It will be a massive barrier to the proper transformation of society. It’s preferences have always been to take the world into war or even the jaws of hell to protect capitalist privilege and inequality.

    Its reason for existence is to create a kinder free market, yet it is even incapable of doing that.

    Fuck Labour, and fuck its deluded left activists for trying to hoodwink yet another generation into believing decent people should support it.

  30. Zayban: SA, I’m not talking specifically about the wars Britain has been involved. I dare day a good chunk of this voter group oppose the Arab spring itself. Galloway himself has declared his support for Assad, supports the regime in Iran and opposed the Libyan revolution. That’s why he mockingly called his byelection victory the Bradford spring, isn’t it? These people are entitled to their views, but I don’t think supporting strong men against the west is particularly popular in the rest of the country, whatever ones views on war.As to Miliband, obviously we’re being asked to make a judgement of the situation and Miliband is not creating enthusiasm. He has a great opportunity with the cuts and the recession, and Tory disaray, but he doesn’t seem to be the man people want to see in number ten. People across all communities no longer fear the Tories and seem quite happy to play around with joke candidates that quite clearly won’t do anything for them and will be on to the next challenge in a year or so.The Galloway result may lead to the complete collapse of the post New Labour experiment.

    This really is daft I think you’re making this up as you go along to suit your preconceptions.

    I was interested to see this today in the Guardian

    ‘Jeremy Corbyn, the veteran leftwinger, congratulated Galloway for his “astonishing” win. “Big message here on opposition to wars and austerity,” he said on Twitter.’

    Now JC has seen something similar in his political life and I think he calls it just right GG’s vote was about oppossition to wars and austerity and it did not just come from one community.

  31. prianikoff on said:

    #32 “The genuine party of the left in Scotland”

    I hope you’re not trying to argue that it’s the SNP!

    “Fuck Labour, and fuck its deluded left activists for trying to hoodwink yet another generation into believing decent people should support it.”

    What like George Galloway, who didn’t leave the party, but was expelled from it?

    Despite his “3 cheek” analogy, he argued that Bradford was a victory for “real Labour” policies.
    Jeremy Corbyn’s comments show that cooperation with the LRC is the way to go. It will be impossible for the Labour right to isolate George Galloway in Parliament and he should do his utmost to open up avenues for cooperation.

  32. Someone help me here: what is ‘Respect’? Where is it? Why don’t people here talk about it anymore? Why aren’t people saying that this is a victory for Respect? I’m trying to catch up.

  33. Michael why don’t you (a) count the number of times the word “Respect” appears in the post by Andy (who as you know, as it’s not that long since you last posted on here, is a member of the Labour Party, not the Respect Party), (b) have a look at the Respect Party website, and (c) take note of the old saying that nobody likes a smartarse? I know that’s probably more tempting for people in your profession, particularly the more talented members of it like yourself but it really is not an endearing quality.

  34. skidmarx on said:

    the old saying that nobody likes a smartarse?
    Just because it’s old does that make it true. A smartarse is probably liked by themselves, invalidating the proposition.

  35. redcogs on said:

    The working class vote in Bradford West has decisively transferred to a left of Labour organisation and individual. This is very good news indeed for all those who are interested in seeing some meaningful steps being taken towards a changed and improved world, not because George Galloway and Respect were victorious, but because we now know that working people are prepared to support a politics far more radical than those who support the Labour Party are able to countenance.

    i have no particular attachment to George or Respect (although the Galloway courage factor is admirable). The essential point is surely that we can now all see that the working class movement has within it the possibility of lifting its gaze way above the miserable and stunted confines of Labourism.

    Those who hold to the position of encouraging people to bail out Labour in its moment of discomfort are really seeking to limit working class potential in a most disgusting way. All they really want are more years for the Labour Party to create greater despair for the impoverished and more decades of opulence for the rich.

    Just to repeat, in case it wasn’t understood – Fuck Labour.

  36. ” because we now know that working people are prepared to support a politics far more radical than those who support the Labour Party are able to countenance.”

    Indeed, although I don’t think that’s news, there is a caveat though and it is this only when there is a realistic chance of winning.

  37. Thanks for the sneers, guys. Actually, it wasn’t me sneering. I was genuinely trying to get a handle on what is Respect now. I remember when ‘thesplit’ happened, this site was full of information about what is Respect and it was all very interesting. Andy at the time appeared to be part of it. If he isn’t now, then that’s interesting too, but asI said, I missed that moment.

    You’ve told me ot fuckoff and read the Respect site. I will. Thanks for the steer, thanks for the information, thanks for keeping me up to date, long live solidarity and friendship. Socialism in all things, eh?

    references to what I do in life are only possible because I say who I am. People who post here under pseudonyms and make personal comments on those who don’t might pause for a sec and wonder what the fuck they’re doing and why.

    Anyway, I’m over the moon that George won.I’m not in any party now.REspect was the only party I was in…apart from two years in the Young Socialists in about 1959 or so. Those who are in the Labour party and telling themselves that they’re dead chuffed too, might find soon that someone is going to come along and tell them to shuttup. Galloway is utterly,utterly loathed and detested by the Labour hierarchy. They run the party.

    All I wanted by asking was some clarity on that. What I got is people telling me to fuckoff. Luvvit.

  38. Redcogs in my view working class people will vote for politics to the Left of labour if they think the candidate is credible and can win. Otherwise they will not although they still might want policies to the Left of Labour. Sorry to be unclear not enough sleep.

  39. redcogs on said:

    Michael Rosen,

    Labour supporters are often capable of far worse than being unpleasant to decent people on a website in my experience Michael.

    A pseudonym can function as a little insurance policy against damage.

    Keep your spirits up mate.

  40. Michael Rosen: references to what I do in life are only possible because I say who I am. People who post here under pseudonyms and make personal comments on those who don’t might pause for a sec and wonder what the fuck they’re doing and why.

    Michael you make a reasonable point there, and I generally am very careful about using anonymity as a shield rather than a sword in relation to named individuals.

    However, in my defence I am a regular on here and have given plenty of information about myself which allows people to know what I do for a living (and have had that thrown at me on a number of occasions) and other things about me to the extent that there are probably a few people who can guess who I am.

    At least one of the admin knows who I am and can vouch for the fact that (apart from when the bogus TG and RR were doing the rounds) I am the same person each time my handle is used, and that the things I say about myself match up with my real persona.

    As a marxist presumably you believe that being determines consciousness and therefore what people do for a living inevitably has some bearing on how they think and behave?

    And sorry, if you are famous it’s a bit difficult to get away from that. Let’s face it when you post you link to your personal web-page.

    My son-in-law is a teacher at an academy who tried to fight it and is a big admirer of yours both politically and professionally and it was thanks to him that I read some of your stuff.

    And I didn’t tell you to f**k off, I thought I was quite nice about it.

    Finally, I still think you’re a smartarse!

  41. John P reid on said:

    remember tonny benns coment labour lost in 83 as it wasn’t left wing enough, maybe the blairutes could say labour lost in 2010 because it wasn’t right wing enough.

  42. redcogs on said:

    SA,

    Understood SA.

    The eloctoral game apart, i quite enjoyed george Galloway’s comparison of the Bradford West result with the arab Spring, even if it is a little overblown.

    A real movement involving the streets and the workplaces has to be the future of socialist progress i think?

  43. #46 and #50 In other words, a politically engaged working class tends to be pragmatic and nuanced to an extent not really understood by much of the far left who have a tendency to talk down to them as if they are children.

    A movement on the streets and in the workplaces is a pre-requisite for real change, but how such a movement will manifest itself in or relate to the world of parliamentary politics will be complex, and the Labour Party will inevitably be a very important part of the mix for good or bad.

  44. “Many years ago when Eric Hobsbawm wrote about the increasing diversity of social and cultural expereince in British working class life, he acknowledged the threat that this posed to monolithic labourism”

    He was wrong. Nothing’s changed and thinking that things have changed is the single biggest cause of the despicable capitulation of the left in this country to Thatcherism. The working class only needs one party, a hard left democratic socialist party. Why can’t you people see that the prospects for socialism are just the same as they were in 1900, 1920, 1945 or any other time?

  45. skidmarx on said:

    @47 I liked it.

    Actually I think there are some important points to be made, though as we will see, I’m probably not the one to make them.
    To start with Michael’s last comment, perhaps its because everything thinks you’re really smart they can’t believe you don’t know everything already, and so must be taking the piss when you ask. Could be seen as a compliment.
    To continue with Michael’s question, I think Andy rejoined Labour not long after the general election; has still been very positive about Respect; as a Labour Party member who hasn’t suddenly seen the light as a result of Bradford West, still sees the task in front of him as how Labour can be made a better party as a result.

    I think what this does to Respect is a good question. It seemed to be on the verge of vanishing after the last election, obviously this is a huge shot in the arm – although the result may benefit the left in general, it is obviously foremost a boost to Galloway’s career and Respect .
    Now I think the history of post-split Respect (perhaps pre-split as well, but let’s stick near the point) was one of treating others on the left as having all the responsibility to support them, while they had all the right to demand support, primarily because they were the most electable. There is likely to be a temptation to go back to that attitude after this spectacularly good result, but I’d be the last person who’d be able to convince them that that would be short-sighted.

  46. Vanya on said:

    skidmarx: treating others on the left as having all the responsibility to support them, while they had all the right to demand support, primarily because they were the most electable.

    If that were true, which I don’t concede, then I would suggest that the issue is not just one of electability but of the reason for that electability.

    Also, the big difference between Respect and the far left groups (including those who have at one time or another been part of it) is that it grew organically from two major sources- a mass movement against imperialist war (intermixed with disenfranchiement of significant sections of ethnic/ religious minorities and tied to support for the Palestinian cause) and the further degeneration of the mass party of the working class, symbolised by GG’s expulsion but including all the rest of the crap that went with Blairism (deepening concessions to neo-liberalism, weakening of the TU link etc).

    And Respect is inclusive politically in a way that no other party claiming to be on the left is, precisely because of its organic nature (ie not owing its lineage to a split within the world trotskyist or leninist movement but to huge events in the real world, and not excercising some form of leninist democratic centralist party regime as if we were living in Tsarist Russia).

    Othr people talk about building a mass party to the left of Labour. For all of Respect’s huge weaknesses they are the only ones who have come anywhere near to doing it.

  47. Skidmarx

    Yes I think that is a fair assessment of my position, and while I don’t 100% agree with what you say about Respect. , it is a reasonable point you make.

  48. Howard Kirk on said:

    I may disagree with George Galloway on a number of issues but I’m very pleased he has be elected back to parliament – I thought it was revealing that in his victory speech that whilst very critical of the Labour Party since Blair, he did not single-out Ed M personally.

    I think that whilst Ed M was right to acknowledge the mistakes made by the Labour Party in government, not least Iraq, and has made attempts to reconnect it with it’s core vote, the problem is more to do with convincing the public he can be PM.

    I don’t think Thurday will matter a great deal with regard to that, but it remains a significant factor that it’s not just about policies but it’s about personalities as well. It seems to remain a conceit of the Labour Party that the presidential aspects of general elections are just about policies – they seem to stick by leaders such as Foot, Kinnock and Brown when there is a very good argument they are unlikely to lead the party to victory and are consistently less popular than the party itself.

    It seems that New Labour has created a who group of potential leaders in it’s own image – bland, conformist and uninspiring. A further problem here is that if Ed M went then it would be a victory for the Blairites and would be one of their own who could replace him.

    The question does remain is how much longer will he be given, and will Labour fight another GE will someone less popular than the party. And can this be done without shifting the LP even more to the right?

  49. Vanya: #46 and #50 In other words, a politically engaged working class tends to be pragmatic and nuanced to an extent not really understood by much of the far left who have a tendency to talk down to them as if they are children.A movement on the streets and in the workplaces is a pre-requisite for real change, but how such a movement will manifest itself in or relate to the world of parliamentary politics will be complex, and the Labour Party will inevitably be a very important part of the mix for good or bad.

    Yes Vanya, I agree with that in every respect.

  50. David Hughes on said:

    This result means nothing. Politics always throws up a few demagogue characters that can win insignificant elections by appealing to the base instincts of a minority group of voters. It happens a lot in Europe, we’re just not used to it in this country. His party wouldn’t stand a chance anywhere where he’s not running so it has no effect on the political landscape.

    Intelligent people can see that Galloway merely desperately wants the kudos of wanting to be an MP and has nothing to offer British politics. I don’t know why he bothers – he still gets invited on talk shows quite often so his profile won’t change that much from this win. That is loves to have a title after his name is quite revealing about who he is.

  51. “Intelligent people can see that Galloway merely desperately wants the kudos of wanting to be an MP and has nothing to offer British politics.”

    Aha and by virtue of your analysis those who elected him cannot be inteligent? Bollix.

  52. Tulip Siddiq’s hostility to George Galloway and her jaundiced view of his record as MP for Bethnal Green and Bow is not unconnected with the fact that she is strongly aligned with the Awami League – she is in fact Mujibur Rahman’s granddaughter – and therefore bitterly opposed to the Islamic Forum Europe activists who helped Galloway to defeat Oona King in 2005.

    I think she is also mistaken in her analysis of why Galloway won in Bradford West. She writes: “The fact is, for years, we have exploited the Asian block voting mentality when it served us. However, the danger with that approach is when the block vote turns against us, our candidate loses disastrously.”

    But Galloway’s by-election victory was not the product of any block vote. What appears to have happened is that established community leaders called on Muslim voters to support Labour as usual, but their advice was rejected, with voters preferring to follow the lead of the young activists who supported Galloway.

    Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation, who had been on the campaign trail with Galloway, told Channel 4 News:

    “What this win shows is that the time when unelected elders in the community say, ‘we’re all voting for Labour,’ who would dictate to young Muslims how to vote, is over. What Galloway did is to stand up to that, and defeated it. I spent hours talking to young Muslims, whatever affiliation they had, they were sick of being told who to vote for.

    “I think what has happened in Bradford West is an historical moment, because it shows that individuals in the community will vote for themselves and not as a group. That is a fantastic breakthrough, whatever you think of Galloway.”

  53. cliff foot on said:

    Vanya: If that were true, which I don’t concede, then I would suggest that the issue is not just one of electability but of the reason for that electability.Also, the big difference between Respect and the far left groups (including those who have at one time or another been part of it) is that it grew organically from two major sources- a mass movement against imperialist war (intermixed with disenfranchiement of significant sections of ethnic/ religious minorities and tied to support for the Palestinian cause) and the further degeneration of the mass party of the working class, symbolised by GG’s expulsion but including all the rest of the crap that went with Blairism (deepening concessions to neo-liberalism, weakening of the TU link etc).And Respect is inclusive politically in a way that no other party claiming to be on the left is, precisely because of its organic nature (ie not owing its lineage to a split within the world trotskyist or leninist movement but to huge events in the real world, and not excercising some form of leninist democratic centralist party regime as if we were living in Tsarist Russia).Othr people talk about building a mass party to the left of Labour. For all of Respect’s huge weaknesses they are the only ones who have come anywhere near to doing it.

    There is a fair amount of truth to this but it remains a fact that the SWp, pre split, were crucial to the formation of Respect (democratic centralism and all), and its growth. Also, the CP, of course, had many thousands of activists, at all levels of the labour movement. The CP, had huge influence, on a whole number of levels, because of this, for better and for worse. Thus, as ever, there is much to be gained by studying their history, warts and all.
    Sadly, their compass became fixed on reinforcing Labour as a party, not building a ‘left alternative ‘ to Labour.

  54. David Hughes:
    appealing to the base instincts of a minority group of voters… Intelligent people can see…

    Unintelligent minority with base instincts. Who on earth can you mean?

  55. Uncle Albert on said:

    Andy: “Ed Miliband’s mission to move the party on from the mistakes and hubris of New Labour is necessary and right”

    I’ve been waiting for an indication of an intention to significantly move on from New Labour but haven’t caught sight of much to get excited about.

    Not only has Ed dawdled but he tasked Liam Byrne (guilty of out-flanking the Tories from the right, according to the Independent) with the policy review and he wanted arch-Blairite James Purnell as his chief-of-staff, an opportunity which Purnell turned down.

    It don’t look too promising.

  56. jock mctrousers on said:

    Get behind Ed Milliband? That’s a laugh. You’d have to figure out which way he’s facing to get behind him. Surprised no-one else pointed it out.

  57. [not intending to derail the discussion, that's why it's in square brackets, but I have no idea who you are vanya, what you do or why nor can I think of any reason why I should or want to.]

  58. skidmarx on said:

    I would suggest that the issue is not just one of electability but of the reason for that electability.
    At the time the issue seemed partly that they were electable only in a couple of constituencies. On the one hand Bradford may have shown that to be too pessimistic, on the other there is a conventional wisdom that suggests that it is only Galloway who can win for Respect, which would limit them to one seat at a time. I still don’t know where the truth on this lies. A friend who has lived in Manningham a long time said something a bit unprintable about Galloway, but said he might liven things up a bit there. I’d quite like to hear more about why people voted for him there before I can think I understand why it happened.

    The SWP grew organically from those two things, though it was the Vietnam War and the Wilson/Callaghan government.

    Respect is inclusive politically in a way that no other party claiming to be on the left is
    It’s different, I’ll give you that.

    Othr people talk about building a mass party to the left of Labour. For all of Respect’s huge weaknesses they are the only ones who have come anywhere near to doing it.
    One of the reasons Ian Birchall, in his bio of Cliff, gives for the SWP getting out of the business of standing for parliament in 1979 was that the party would recruit members around an electoral campaign and then lose them almost immediately. I think one reason why the active membership of the post-split Respect doesn’t seem to massively outstrip that of the SWP (to put it generously because I can’t be arsed to start an argument over the detail) is that the same is liable to happen to Respect, only much more so.Socialist Resistance seemed to have some suggestions for making it a more activist organisation such as trade union work, though they’ve now left (seemed like an overdue decision at the time, might seem a bit foolish now).

  59. jim mclean on said:

    Jesus Wept, Cheri Blair is opening up a private health care centre in Sainsbury’s.
    Wonder if she’ll be giving Nectar points.

  60. skidmarx, interesting stuff. During ‘the split’ these threads went to several hundred. Following this momentous victory for a left-of-labour person/party, I expected these threads to be in their hundreds again, full of a debate about party, class and leader, what’s worked, what hasn’t worked, what might work, what next for the left-of-centre. Instead, what’s going on for a quite a lot of the above and elsewhere is what about Labour?!

    At the time of the first post-split Respect meetings there were a lot of predictions by people here about how groundbreaking Respect would be. No disrespect to George, but this isn’t what seems to have happened for the moment though George himself alluded to the idea that Bradford was a beginning for many other elections similar to Bradford. But apart from the great Salma, who will that be? And how? Salma will of course stand again and would, I think, stand a very good chance (don’t others think too?). But who else? and where? how? and why?

    (before anyone tells me a)I’m sneering b)I write children’s books c)I’m a smartarse , can I say a)I’m not sneering b) yes I do write children’s books but don’t think this stunts my development and c)I may or may not be a smartarse – whatever the fuck that is.

  61. Andy Newman’s final paragraph

    “I am sure that there will be some Blairites who take malicious comfort in the Bradford West by-election, thinking that it could be used to destabilise Ed Miliband. We need to ensure that doesn’t happen. The message from Bradford West is that Ed Miliband’s mission to move the party on from the mistakes and hubris of New Labour is necessary and right. Bradford West shows that Labour needs to hold its nerve, stand behind Ed Miliband, and dare to be Labour.”

    Totally wrong. If Labour wins the next general election the odds are that the incoming Labour government will be so right wing that it will make even the administrations of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown look radical by comparison. Irrespective of whether or not Ed Miliband is still Labour leader by then.

    The antagonism shown by some of the Blairite ‘Old Guard’ towards Ed Miliband is not because he is taking the party to the left. He is not, he is taking the party to the right and therefore following in the footsteps of Blair and Brown. It is just that many would like the pace of Labour’s rightward march to be a lot quicker than it currently is.

  62. I agree that it is a bit odd to talk about Labour moving to the left at the moment. But I can’t quite see the argument that Miliband is dragging it further to the right, either.

  63. Feodor Augustus on said:

    I think jock mctrousers’ is right: it’s hard to tell which direction Miliband is moving in, it’s different every week. Perhaps the best description of his politics would be populism of some variety? Though I think the defining feature of most Labour rhetoric atm is that it’s wholly negative: the Tories are this, the Tories are that, etc. etc. Not to mention rather hypocritical: the Tories are cutting services, bastards! But so will we… The closet thing to a positive approach was his stuff on ‘good’ and ‘bad’ capitalism – and fuck knows what any of that actually meant.

    And well done to ‘Gorgeous George’, for all his faults, his personality is one hell of a force in its own right. Though I think while that makes it RESPECT’s greatest strength, it also makes it its greatest weakness. If RESPECT are going to build on this result, then they really need several other high profile figures to emerge from the party alongside Galloway. Salma’s a good start: very articulate, clever young lady. But many more are needed. If they could attract some of the union hierarchy and get them to stand, that would really strengthen their hand.

  64. Jellytot on said:

    @69One of the reasons Ian Birchall, in his bio of Cliff, gives for the SWP getting out of the business of standing for parliament in 1979 was that the party would recruit members around an electoral campaign and then lose them almost immediately.

    ….And there’s me thinking it was because they have no electoral support and would vie for last place in most constituencies with the “Bring A Bottle Party”

  65. Jellytot on said:

    @78

    After Bradford I’d thought a little bit of humility from SWP supporters would be in order.

    Why doesn’t the SWP fight elections under its own name? You’d think the Vanguard Party of the WC could at least scrape a council seat of the 21,871 available.

  66. Jellytot on said:

    @71During ‘the split’ these threads went to several hundred. Following this momentous victory for a left-of-labour person/party, I expected these threads to be in their hundreds again, full of a debate about party, class and leader, what’s worked, what hasn’t worked, what might work, what next for the left-of-centre.

    I guess that certain groups would want to avoid that debate in public and on a site like SU (recriminations, opening up old wounds etc.). It’s been been played out. It’s a shame as it would have been interesting. Whether the present leadership of the SWP and their counterparts in RESPECT will come to some sort of understanding behind closed doors will have to be seen.

  67. Jellytot: Why doesn’t the SWP fight elections under its own name? You’d think the Vanguard Party of the WC could at least scrape a council seat of the 21,871 available.

    How many elected representatives apart from Georgie does have Respect have again?

  68. P Spence on said:

    I represented an Asian man who was in the UK illegally and had worked as a security guard in the City of London for many years. He lived alone and worked excessive and unsocial hours: he like millions of others was super exploited.

    Mr Galloway was his MP. My client showed me a series of letters from Mr Galloway to the authorities which argued his case to remain in the UK. Mr Galloway gave time and attention to the needs of a constituent who had few places to turn. I was impressed. I suspect he acted similarly in many other cases in Tower Hamlets and have no reason to suppose he won’t be a first rate MP for West Bradford.

  69. P Spence on said:

    Ask yourselves a question: who has more influence over the leadership of the Labour Party, senior business men or senior trade union leaders? Ordinary labour party members know the answer and it partly explains why the Party is dieing on its feet. When push comes to shove the leadership will not resist the demands of capital which today are focused on bringing down labour costs and creating social insecurity ( thereby to terrorise the working class) in the vain hope that it will re-invigorate the market economy so that we can compete with China. My impression is that Balls and Miliband unfortunately accept this analysis albeit they hope to mitigate the worst effects.

    The systemic crisis can now be viewed as probably permenant. Social democracy has failed in its historic mission to find a lasting compromise with capital. Events I think will move more quickly than we imagine in a dangerous direction. But a direction which will open up opportunities for radical responses of which W Bradford may be an early indicator.

  70. prianikoff on said:

    “Galloway victory puts spotlight on Labour’s failure to offer any alternative”

    Rob Sewell, Socialist Appeal
    Friday, 30 March 2012 (extract)

    “Workers in Bradford West have shown their real feelings towards the Coalition parties and the Labour Party. It reflects the real mood of anger developing in British society as living standards are cut. The Labour leadership can see no alternative to the austerity programme of this government. They also fail to see the effects these policies are having on working class communities up and down the country.

    The lesson of Bradford West is that if Labour wants to win it must boldly oppose the austerity measures. If Labour is to recover, it must break with Tory policies and fight for working people. That means breaking with capitalism and a return to socialist policies.
    Although this by-election victory will not be repeated in the next general election, it is a warning to Labour not to take its traditional supporters for granted. The present leadership is wedded to capitalism. It is vital that these carpetbaggers are replaced with real representatives who are committed to changing society.

    the full article can be found at:-
    http://www.socialist.net/

  71. Strange to learn the Labour Party is “dying on its feet “, we had 40 people at a trade union event in Swindon om Thursday to listen to Jon Trickett MP. Also strange to learn the unions have no influence as all the candidates for North Swindon PPC vie for union support. And GMB links with the party have allowed us to explain the case of Carillion strikers and get important political support.

  72. Martel on said:

    #88 It was a poor choice of candidate. It is hard to imagine how someone so amazingly inarticulate manages to make a living as a barrister.

    Galloway would have a had a much harder time of it if he was running against a left-wing Labour candidate, who condemned the intervention in Iraq, and possessed a modicum of charisma.

    Hopefully, it will make the case in the Labour Party that being to the left is a strong electoral asset in traditional Labout seats that are ebbing support.

  73. jim mclean: Lose Glasgow and London and the games up.

    I don’t think you can conflate what Livingstone offers with what Labour in Glasgow offers. Nor can you usefully compare Johnson to the SNP on the political spectrum. Two different nations and London is a place apart.

    I think the Bradford effect will be helpful to Ken.

  74. jim mclean on said:

    SA: I don’t think you can conflate what Livingstone offers with what Labour in Glasgow offers. Nor can you usefully compare Johnson to the SNP on the political spectrum. Two different nations and London is a place apart.

    I think the Bradford effect will be helpful to Ken.

    True, what is happening to Labour in Glasgow is probably self inflicted. Note the BNP have rebranded as Britanica for the local elections and Solidarity and the SSP have an “agreement” Glasgow will be a no overall majority probably

  75. P Spence on said:

    #87 Glad to hear it. Apologies if I am too pessimistic about the LP. I hope indeed that I am wrong but past experience is not very encouraging. How much influence have the TUs had over policy making? Not nearly enough. Len Mc. is pushing hard it seems and I really hope makes some progress.

  76. jock mctrousers on said:

    #89 ” Galloway would have a had a much harder time of it if he was running against a left-wing Labour candidate, who condemned the intervention in Iraq, and possessed a modicum of charisma.”

    Know what you’re saying. He’d have had a harder fight against Jeremy Corbyn. Great insight.

  77. Karl Stewart on said:

    I take Andy’s point about the “Ed Miliband’s useless” stuff mainly coming from Labour’s neo-liberalists, but that doesn’t mean we on the left should be uncritical of him.
    He does come across as prett wimpish whenever there’s a strike on the agenda – he immediately concedes the Tories’ and LibDems’ argument that strikes are fundamentally wrong.
    I appreciate EdM’s never going to be a staunch advocate of militant syndicalism and working-class state power, but surely he can do better than this.
    How about hitting back at the Tories by saying: “The right to strike is a fundamental human right, which is the only weapon working women and men have. Would you make strikes illegal? Do you agree that there should be a right to strike?
    “The trade union movement has won all the rights at work that we all take for granted today. Were it not for the trade union movement – and taking strike action when necessary – then our children would still be working down coal mines and sweeping chimneys.
    “Instead of immediately jumping on trade unionists whenever there’s a whiff of a dispute, why not take a look at the issues that have caused this dispute?”

    Be good to hear EdM argue some pretty basic principles like this instead of wimping out every time.

  78. jim mclean on said:

    92# Havent a clue, the rebels have put up 22 candidates, some of them might get in, some wont. Just noticed Ruth Black has switched wards and is standing elsewhere. With three former MSP’s standing for Labour I cant work out if that is a good thing or not. As with Bradford the new generation are looking for an alternative. LibDem meltdown every where. Have less candidates than they have councillors in some places.

  79. ” With three former MSP’s standing for Labour I cant work out if that is a good thing or not.”

    I reckon its not. Sends the wrong message, if you know what I mean, no one wants them but they’re good enough for you sort of thing.

    I agree about the new generation and I’m very pleased to see it.

  80. P Spence on said:

    #95 I agree Karl but past form suggests it is not going to happen: they are too afraid that the right wing media will eat them alive.

  81. P Spence on said:

    The LP leadership presently operates in a ideological box constructed by the neoliberal ruling class. Galloway is outside the box which explains both his success and why he is demonised: he poses a danger to the ruling order and therefore must be ridiculed and marginalised.

  82. Pingback: On Bradford, anti-imperialist Labourism, social democracy and real Labour values | Left Futures

  83. Karl Stewart on said:

    Unite has been trying for over a year to get the fuel industry employers to agree a set of national minimum standards on safety, training, job security and other basic Ts&Cs issues.

    But EdM hasn’s spoken a single word about it – he’s got a platform on which he could argue the drivers’ case – and shift the terms of the debate to one of basic workers’ rights.

    But he’s simply wimped out every time.

    Just because there are worse people who could be Labour leader – and of course there are – doesn’t mean we shouldn’t criticise him.

  84. brokenwindow on said:

    Every single one of Ed’s moves is exhaustively choreographed so don’t expect any ballsy,gutsy ‘everyone’s right to strike!’ rhetoric – it isn’t in him – and if he does come out with something sounding ballsy and gutsy,that’s scripted. He’s a wimp and a PR nightmare.
    He has gained some momentum but never builds on it and the p[lain fact is he has no ‘anti-cuts’ argument to take the legs from under the tories. As much as Andy can pretend that Labour are the party of community,where the old labour values will reemerge along with voters too,this sentimental error jars with what they actually were and still are – Pro-American and pro-oil in the Middle East,Pro-Israel,the second-biggest arms exporter,running a PFI saturated health service,with no extensive council housing building plan,unclear about its position on pensions,in favour of the City,hey are ‘self-cannibalists’,wholly capable of extending the private finance bill to the publiv purse. Milliband should be hanging the tories out to dry now,instead he is nursing a huge defeat at the ballot box. The Ghost of What Labour Truly are comes back again to haunt them.

  85. I think Richard poses the question well:

    The main obstacle to achieving something here is not the tenacity of Labourism so much as the weakness of the organized left at this stage. But unlike the former, we can do something about the latter. We can certainly solve any problems of organization that have dogged us in the past, provided we acknowledge them. That’s why the ostrich-like response of the monomaniacs who can only see Galloway’s flaws, and only see the result as a victory for a vanity campaign, is particularly irresponsible. It is a moralistic abdication of the duty to engage in a concrete analysis of concrete situations, to think through the strategic possibilities, to calculate the relative gains and risks of the courses that are now open to us. As I see it, the onus is on the Left to act on this opportunity.

  86. Karl Stewart on said:

    Despite the admirable qualities of so many individuals within the non-Labour marxist left, they have proved consistently that they simply can’t create a viable or effective electoral party – they’ve proved this time and again over the past couple of decades.

    It won’t happen.

    If we recognise the Bradford West by-election as a victory for the politics of the left – which it was – then the best way to build on this is to campaign for Galloway to re-enter the Labour Party.

  87. Karl Stewart on said:

    Livingstone was cheated out of Labour’s nomination, got booted out, stood as an independent and won and then came back in.

    Galloway was booted out for opposing the Iraq invasion, stood as an independent and won – tried to build an alternative party and failed – but now he’s won as an independent again. He should come back in.

    Why not?

  88. Karl Stewart on said:

    Not an individual member no – wouldn’t want to.
    But an affiliated member through my union.

  89. prianikoff on said:

    With the right policies, Labour could win the next election. The internal policy review hasn’t really led to any serious changes though. There are still attempts to push Labour further to the right, with the “Purple Book” and “Blue Labour” nonsense.

    As the party is 10% ahead in national polls, Ed Miliband’s advisers don’t think anything too radical is necessary.

    This is dangerously complacent;
    In key strategic areas like Scotland, Labour has lost a great deal of working class support through the dominance of right wing policies in the party.
    Bradford West is another example of the same process.

    Nor is Labour connecting with younger working class voters. These often don’t have firm allegiances to any party, or even vote regularly. But they’ve been hardest-hit by unemployment, the lack of affordable housing, abolition of EMA and Tuition fee increases.

    In this situation, the main policies needed are to:-

    Abolish student tuition fees and Restore EMA

    Abolish Gove’s Free schools and Academies, bring them back into LEA Control.

    End NHS privatisation and abolish prescription charges.

    Reverse the Coalition’s budget;
    Increase corporation tax,
    Introduce a graduated upper income tax rate of between 50-70% .

    Support public sector workers in their struggle against the Coalition’s cuts.

    Pull the troops out of Afghanistan.

    This isn’t even a socialist programme. It’s the bare minimum set of demands that would win the next election.

    Why isn’t Ed Miliband supporting them?

  90. Karl Stewart on said:

    Because not enough of us are shouting it loudly enough Prianikoff.

    These ideas need to become part of the political mainstream and that won’t happen if we’re wasting our time setting up yet more “unity committees” to produce yet another still-born “left alternative” electoral initiative with yet another new name that’ll win even fewer votes than the last one did and will then collapse in yet another sectarian squabble.

    What we should be doing is arguing for the politics of equality (economic equality), workers’ rights, no invasions of other nations etc and fighting to get that agenda heard across the broad labour movement and wider mainstream society.

  91. onlyoneteaminessex on said:

    “…the best way to build on this is to campaign for Galloway to re-enter the Labour Party.”

    As leader

  92. What is thunderously pointless is haranguing people to join or leave Labour.

    Those who think that Labour can be made more useful and believe that joining Labour (or, as Karl does, believe that everyone else joining Labour but you him, for some reason) is part of the best way of achieving that – get on with it.

    Those who think that the best way for socialists to work is outside Labour, we’ll get on with that too.

    Shouting at each other about that issue across SU is a waste of everyone’s time.

  93. Karl Stewart on said:

    KrisS: Could it maybe be that Ed Miliband isn’t supporting them because he doesn’t support them?

    He seems to me to be a fairly vacant individual without a particularly clear sense of what he actually does believe in.

    But the important point for me is to take the type of left-wing programme being advocated by Prianikoff above and articulate that to the widest possible audience.

    And KrisS, in the article you linked to by Richard Seymour, he also links to another article about how the left needs to articulate a clear alternative economic and political agenda, which isn’t a million miles away from what I’ve argued here.

  94. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    I am dubious about basing a left of Labour project around George Galloway. An LP that made even a quite slight left turn from its current very pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist condition would probably make overtures to take GG back, reasoning that it might be better to have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in. This would be their smart move. And I am inclined to believe he would go for such an offer, thus leaving Respect and any left of Labour project based around him marooned.

    Bradford has been a reminder that there is a significant but neglected constituency opposed to imperialist wars and cuts, and Labour would be advised to note this and not go chasing after supporters of the white racists of the EDL, as Blue Labour would have them do. Whether Labour will draw this conclusion, I don’t know. They may be too stuck in their current right-wing rut to get out of it.

  95. Karl Stewart: But the important point for me is to take the type of left-wing programme being advocated by Prianikoff above and articulate that to the widest possible audience.

    Indeed, let’s do that.

  96. Martel on said:

    #109 There is not a chance in hell of Galloway getting back into the Labour Party.

    Livingstone was different, he was less disliked personally within the party than Galloway, many thought Ken was wronged in the selection process, Livingstone had substantial grassroots support and he had a particularly strong trading card in the shape of the Mayorship.

    Livingstone was also careful to ensure that he did not rule out a way back in.

    In terms of Labour, I think Galloway is beyond rehabilitation.

    Though he may be glad of that.

  97. Karl Stewart on said:

    The two cases are certainly different Martel. But I wouldn’t rule out a Galloway return. (And don’t forget there were a lot of people who didn’t want Livingstone back either.)
    Of the LP members I know, yes there’s a couple who hate him, but an equal number who’ve made comments like: “Good on him, glad her won” etc, (of course, just an impression from a couple of chats).
    Also, Galloway himself is talking more about being a “real Labour” person and emphasising his “Labour roots” etc. And Salma Yaqoob would be welcomed in by a lot of LP people too I bet.

  98. why why why on said:

    What is Respect’s considered view about “Will he or wont he join the LP?”
    I cannot see him turning from his electoral base. Well done Respect.

  99. P Spence on said:

    #12#13: even such a limited programme as this has virtually no chance of emerging under the present leadership. LP policy on the cuts is only fractionally less austere than the Tories. Only the leaders of the trade unions perhaps have the capacity to force a move away from this neoliberal position.

    The NHS as an immensely successful, centrally planned public service is being broken up. Will a Millliband goverment undo the commercial contracts and stifle the private health corporations? Will they transfer health workers back to a unified public service once they have been TUPED across to outsourcing racketeers. The answer is no.

  100. (Miliband is scared of suggesting that striking isn’t the work of the devil and yet some expect him to allow Galloway back into Labour? Don’t be silly)

  101. Martel on said:

    I think there is no chance of Galloway returning.

    He had very few friends in the PLP when he was sitting as a Labour MP, and virtually none now.

    Most of the Labour shadow cabinet, he has attacked personally in some way, or claimed that their hands are covered in blood.

    Livingstone always had grassroots supports, Galloway never had that. And no-one was going to defend the wisdom of the comments Galloway was kicked out for.

    Virtually no-one in Labour wants him back and Labour has nothing to gain from re-admitting Galloway.

  102. The question is not whether George Galloway would be readmitted to the Labour Party but more can Labour be so transformed so that his readmittance would not be remarkable.
    That entails a fuller repudiation of the war policy than Miliband has ventured and radically different economic policy along the lines that now both the unions and even the Labour conference favour.
    Martel (in his/her? usual New Labourish way suggests that George Galloway, who twice now has beaten an official Labour candidate lacks grassroots support.
    I wonder who might come out in front if he was to go up against any member of the shadow cabinet before a working class audience in any British city.
    The failure of the Labour Party to make a positive impression (as opposed to passively benefiting from anti-coalition sentiment) lies not in a lack of ability or charisma but in promoting policies that have no appeal to working people.
    If Miliband were to repudiate the cuts, call for a speedy end to the war, say that Labour would take back utilities, rail and the NHS back into public ownership and control and raise the minimum wage, pensions and benefits he would suddenly acquire both an enthusiastic following and the outright hostility of the media, state apparatus and big business and banks and the usual threats of breakaway and sabotage from the parliamentary Labour Party.
    The only force able to effect a change of policy in the Labour Party is the unions. But this would entail a direct political challenge backed up by a mobilisation of union members to revitalise the party at every level, the wholesale selection of candidates who would support such a policy change and real effort to connect with a whole range of forces from the Greens, anti war activists, UK Uncut, young people of all kinds (like the people who upset the applecart in Bradford) and the kind of people who have been drawn to Plaid and the SNP.

  103. Zayban on said:

    If Galloway were allowed to rejoin the Labour party I would immediately resign. But I don’t think it’s likely to happen. The Labour party are made up of many decent hard working people that were appalled not just as his treason to the party but his treason to the country.

    He is also not a very nice guy as we saw on Celebrity big brother – you just had to see his interview on C4 news the day to get a glimpse of this.

    Plus, although the media is loathed to talk about it anymore because of Mr Galloway’s litigious nature, his financial arrangements with foreign governments has been quite disgusting. He was given the maximum penalty by the House of Commons for this.

    So why in the world would they want a dodgy demagogue in the party for the benefit of one seat? It wouldn’t make any sense. The real question is why he was allowed to stay in the party for so long. I think these days Labour has better processes and wouldn’t allow someone to slip through the net for so long.

  104. onlyoneteaminessex on said:

    #129
    Poopah to you. You attempt a personality assassination based upon nothing but your own very spurious prejudices, yet I presume are quite willing to justify the psychopathic war monger’s who commit murderous and illegal wars in sovereign territories and in all probability would also support attacks on the most needy at home. It’s you ,sir, who are a disgrace and I for one would not want to belong to any club (or party) in which the likes of you are a member. And George Galloway, although able to handle the suchlike as you (and far worse who pull your strings) is better away from New Labour.

    I would add that you need to get your priorities in some sort of sane order – but I very much doubt whether you own such sensibilities that would enable you to do so

  105. Indeed, ootie. That kind of hysterical nonsense from people happy to share a party with the mass-murderer Blair deserves only contempt.

  106. Jellytot on said:

    @107Despite the admirable qualities of so many individuals within the non-Labour marxist left, they have proved consistently that they simply can’t create a viable or effective electoral party – they’ve proved this time and again over the past couple of decades. It won’t happen.

    Agree Completely Karl Stewart. I reckon though that we will see non-too-subtle overtures being made to GG and RESPECT over the coming weeks and months.

    The Elephant in the Sitting Room in all these electoral “marriages of convienence” is the existance of parties within them that nominally follow the Leninist model and in theory want to overthrow the Parliamentary system that they want to get elected to, combined with the fact that activists primary loyality is to a separate central commitee of a separate party. These tensions always come to the fore in the end, especially when the initial europhoria and momentum have died down (as it always does).

  107. Karl Stewart on said:

    Zayban: If Galloway were allowed to rejoin the Labour party I would immediately resign.

    Hmmm….now there’s a dilemma. Galloway or Zayban, who do we want in the Labour Party?

  108. Martel on said:

    # 128 ‘Martel (in his/her? usual New Labourish way suggests that George Galloway, who twice now has beaten an official Labour candidate lacks grassroots support.’

    New Labourish ways? That is quite amusing. I have been firmly ‘old’ Labour, and on the Labour left, since I joined.

    In terms of grassroots, I was talking about grassroots Labour membership. The fact he had very little membership sympathy made it an awful lot easier for Blair to get rid of him.

    Regarding the rest of your post, unsurprising Ed Miliband is not likely to adopt the CPB manifesto.

    Despite your eulogies, it has never scored the CPB more than a handful of votes in solid working class seats.

  109. jim mclean on said:

    Like Galloway or not what should be examined is where the votes came from and how the different parties that were identified persuaded to support GG. A supporter of Aung San Suu Kyi on being asked if she were the only one elected what good would a single voice do? The answer, roughly, nothing in Parliament but a single voice can be heard all over the world. Galloway has a job to speak as the voice of the disaffected and isolated groups that rallied to him. His message need not be a radical Marxist one. Although if I had lived there I would probably have voted Green then buggered of down the Labour Club for a pint with their man.

  110. onlyoneteaminessex on said:

    jim mclean:
    Galloway has a job to speak as the voice of the disaffected and isolated groups that rallied to him. His message need not be a radical Marxist one.

    I’m not sure that it’s as simple as appealing to one particular group, I’d like to see the breakdown of votes throughout the constituency. I’m sure that the greater number of votes for GG would have bene in he high density Asian communities – but not solely. Also, there are issue that are not more specific to any one group more than another. The carnage of imperialist war is one thing, but so are cutbacks that affect any community – although some more than others. I also noted that the RESPECT campaign also dealt a blow when it was revealed the Tories were selling policy making influence to their rich chummies. There’s a growing sense of anger across Britain that is becoming more overt, not just amongst the physically very poorest and alienated communities , but also amongst other groups like pensioners and the disabled, for instance. It’s a red-herring that they’re trying to pounce on , whilst trying to avoid the barely concealed racist sub-text,i.e that Galloway cynically exploited the anger only amongst Muslims.

  111. jim mclean on said:

    137# I understand that the vast majority of students voted for him. Plus I read 75% of voters rejected the big parties.

  112. Martel implicitly raises two serious issues. One, the character of ‘Old Labour’ and two the character of Labour’s grassroots.
    If by Old Labour he means to define himself against New Labour fetish for privatisation, intimacy with big business leaders, complicity with the IMF,/World Bank/EU robbery of the developing world, imperial war and assaults on civil liberties, then welcome to the Left – a broad spectrum that includes most trade union activists, the peace movement, a chunk of Labour’s much reduced individual membership, environmental and solidarity campaigners, readers of the Morning Star and the left press, the Communist Party, the healthy part of what we used to call the ultra left and even a score or so of MPs. Plus many millions of workimg class amnd middle class voters.
    Old Labour could also mean the ban on the post war London Trades Council May Day marches, Dennis Healey’s submission to the IMF, Barbara Castle’s anti union laws, Ernest Bevin’s anti semitism and colonial wars and Herbert Morrison’s opposition to the democratic revolution in Iran and complicity in the MI6 CIA overthrow of Mossadegh.
    Despite the welcome increase in people joining or rejoining the Labour Party these grassroots are not what they used to be. Much like the Parti Socialiste in France the Labour Party individual membership is rather overweighted with careerists and office seekers and woefully short of people from a great range of working class occupations. As Bradford West showed there is little contact between the Labour machine and real working class communities.
    Which is why the Communist Party wants to see the Labour Party strengthened by a massive infusion of . . . (see above second para).
    Your point about Communist Party votes betrays more about the class nature of your politics than you imagine but deserves something of a response. Even in this vastly undemocratic election system Communist do sometimes get elected, and only in very solid working class areas. But there is an interesting phenomena. Occasionally the Labour Party fails to get a candidate nominated and your grassroots working class elector is faced with voting for one of the establishment parties or a communist. And in these circumstances communists usually score rather well. So maybe the grassroots are tinged with a bit more red than you think.

  113. The people of Bradford West, many of them Muslims, could no longer identify with a “socialist” party that has ordered working class British boys into illegal wars all over the Muslim world, a “socialist” party that is unashamed to be pro-Israel, and a “socialist” party that let the City of London rob the working class people of the United Kingdom.

    Furthermore, in Scotland also, despite the fact that you do have a few die-hard Nationalists, it is a similar scenario; people turning their back on Labour. Only there, that means not one, or two, or three,fewer members of parliament, but the end of the union. That, of course, another story. However, the lesson from Bradford West might also be that, with Cameron, Clegg and Milliband, the Scottish Nationalists are already in the home strait.
    http://sansculottism.wordpress.com/

  114. onlyoneteaminessex on said:

    #138

    I heard that too. Maybe a RESPECT candidate in my -and other’s -university town could at least make a bigger dent than would have been previously possible ? Under normal conditions, a few more years ahead yet.though.

  115. Zayban,

    Blimey, if you’re basing your presence in the Labour Party on the hope that your leaders are a) ‘nice guys’ (your phrase) and b) don’t have dodgy relations with dictators, then you must be spending a lot of time with a blanket over your head, not listening, not looking, not reading. Fair enough. That’s what some of us think it takes to be a member of the Labour Party these days. Right, carry on.

  116. Zayban: If Galloway were allowed to rejoin the Labour party I would immediately resign. But I don’t think it’s likely to happen. The Labour party are made up of many decent hard working people that were appalled not just as his treason to the party but his treason to the country. He is also not a very nice guy as we saw on Celebrity big brother – you just had to see his interview on C4 news the day to get a glimpse of this. Plus, although the media is loathed to talk about it anymore because of Mr Galloway’s litigious nature, his financial arrangements with foreign governments has been quite disgusting. He was given the maximum penalty by the House of Commons for this. So why in the world would they want a dodgy demagogue in the party for the benefit of one seat? It wouldn’t make any sense. The real question is why he was allowed to stay in the party for so long. I think these days Labour has better processes and wouldn’t allow someone to slip through the net for so long.

    Ach you’re more ridiculous by the post. Treason my arse.

  117. There are some differences between George Galloway and Jean Luc Melonchon. The first is a working class Catholic and the second went to the Lycée Corneille, run by the Jesuits to educate the children of the aristocracy and bourgeoisie in accordance with the purest doctrinal principles of Roman Catholicism.I t adopted the name Pierre Corneille in 1873. Today it educates students in preparation for university and Grandes écoles.
    Melonchon is making a big impact attacking the racist Le Pen and French involvement in imperial war. Remind you of anyone?

  118. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    Nick Wright: The first is a working class Catholic and the second went to the Lycée Corneille, run by the Jesuits to educate the children of the aristocracy and bourgeoisie in accordance with the purest doctrinal principles of Roman Catholicism.

    What conclusions do you draw from this?

  119. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    Zayban: He is also not a very nice guy as we saw on Celebrity big brother – you just had to see his interview on C4 news the day to get a glimpse of this.

    This is just silly. I have no idea if GG is a “nice guy” or not; but I do know that there are countless unpleasant people in the Labour Party, many of them MPs.

  120. Hasanyi_Janos: What conclusions do you draw from this?

    Not much. But from other evidence I conclude that the political differences between the politics of George Galloway and Jean Luc Melonchon – are not very great and that both are secularists even though one of them appears to believe in God.

  121. Nick Wright: There are some differences between George Galloway and Jean LucJean-Luc Mélenchon .

    Jean-Luc Mélenchon is a militant secularist: his right hand man is Henri Pena-Ruiz (in his own party, the Parti de Gauche), who wrote Qu’est-ce que la laïcité ?

    He supports secular laws, such as the anti-racist ban on veils in schools.

    I could go on.

  122. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    I am wary to intervene in this ‘debate’ because the majority of contributors know my interpretation of the Labour Party/Miliband, et al. I also know the position amongst contributors about me ‘posting’ commentaries from the Socialist Party, but over the past few days/weeks I have just been too busy with life, both political and personal, to sit in front of ‘internetland’ and make ‘tennis court’ dialogue over the capitalist orientated labour party.
    So I am going to post an article from the Socialist that I believe is the way George Galloway and Respect should intervene in the politics of Bradford West along with other trade unionists and socialists in the whole of Bradford.

    http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/711/14227/28-03-2012/programme-for-the-may-elections-for-the-millions-not-the-millionaires

    Thank you for your indulgence.

  123. gordon Walker on said:

    i really thing that socialists should removed ed milliband from power now and stop peddeling to the bankers lies and of course the zionist lobby. human rights and justice is universal, murders and warmongers despised by all sane people, the need to love and restructure society can only be lead by a great man such as george galloway, he has shown how out of touch labour are, and how in touch he is,