How the Bradford West Was Won

Democratic Audit

The shock outcome of the Bradford West by-election  ̶  the dramatic loss of a relatively safe Labour seat to George Galloway for the Respect party ̶  generated considerable media discussion in the immediate aftermath of the result. A variety of competing explanations were offered for Galloway’s victory, ranging from Respect’s use of social media to mobilise younger voters through to unsubstantiated accusations of electoral fraud. The debate about Respect’s remarkable breakthrough in Bradford continued in May 2012 after the party won five seats in the local elections, denying Labour majority control of Bradford City Council.

This report provides a detailed research-based analysis of the events surrouding ‘the Bradford earthquake’. It identifies the factors which led to one of the most surprising by-election results in living memory. It also assesses the wider significance of the by-election, both in terms of how it stands alongside other ‘shock’ by-elections in British political history, and the lessons which can be identified for the other political parties about election campaigning and political engagement in contemporary Britain.

The report was commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust (JRRT) Ltd and written by Lewis Baston, a Senior Research Fellow at Democratic Audit. It draws on interviews with key figures in the 2012 Bradford elections, statistical analysis of the election results and fieldwork visits undertaken by the author in July and August 2012.


The Bradford Earthquake: full report

The Bradford Earthquake: executive summary

Media coverage

A pre-publication feature on the report, including an interview with the author, Lewis Baston, was broadcast on The Sunday Politics(Yorkshire and Lincolnshire) on BBC Two, Sunday 27 January (48:38 onwards).

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Report raps Labour over Bradford West by-election selection process, Monday 28 January

The Independent: More by-election shocks ‘likely’ as party membership declines, Monday 28 January

BBC News: George Galloway Bradford West victory a ‘cry for help’ from voters, Monday 28 January


10 comments on “How the Bradford West Was Won

  1. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    “Shock” by-election victors often struggle to hold onto the seat at the following general election. Quite a few false dawns have arisen from by-election sensations, for a wide range of political forces in the UK. The Orpington by-election of 1962 was thought to herald a new dawn for the Liberals, for example, but they only added a few seats to their tally at the 1964 general election. They did hold Orpington narrowly in 1964 and 1966, but it reverted to the Tories in 1970. Even the Tories only hung on to two of their often spectacular by-election gains from Labour in 1974-9 at the 1979 general election. Most of their by-election gains, often made with gigantic swings from Labour to Tory, went back to Labour in that year.

  2. Editors – could you consider this piece by Alex Callinicos be put up as a separate article?

    Is Leninism finished?

    [snipped by tony – someone has posted a link to the piece already]

  3. Hilarious. NO.

    I was still typing my response, including all the ways I think Callinicos is a dishonest hack who really doesn’t deserve the title “professor”, but your response was better.

    And I snipped the article cos I don’t want any of our bandwidth used for promoting his work.

  4. One side only allowed hey? Put the bloody Callinicos article up against your reformist shite and let the readers decide!

  5. One side only allowed hey? Put the bloody Callinicos article up against your reformist shite and let the readers decide!

    At least you don’t look down on others, huh?

    Except, you seem to be treating people as if they’re really stupid. See, the link to the article has already been posted. So why do we need to repost it? You think people are too stupid to click a link.

    Anyway, all this “reformist shite” seems to be too much for you to bear. Bye then!

  6. To be honest I think the Callinicos article should be put up. The responses it attracts may not however be what the Professor intended.

    Mark P

  7. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    #6 What “reformist shite” are you talking about? “How Bradford West was won”, the title of this article, which is more than Callinicos’ “party” has ever achieved or is now ever likely to?! Or perhaps the criticism of the Delta rape case, which a vast number, perhaps a majority, of your own party agree with?! Though I do have some sympathy for what I imagine are Mark P’s reasons for highlighting the article, as an example of cultish political degeneration…