The Bradford Spring

It was not an election campaign that returned George Galloway to parliament as the new MP for Bradford West on March 29, in the process securing over 50 percent of votes cast and one of the largest majorities of any Member of Parliament currently sitting in the House of Commons, it was a political movement, one that grew exponentially in the weeks and days leading up to polling day.

Nothing like it had ever been experienced or witnessed by some of those involved, veterans of countless and mostly failed election campaigns, and soon people were running out of superlatives to describe what was taking place around them.

The wonder is that just over three weeks ago, Galloway had arrived in Bradford with just a handful of people in his campaign team and very little by way of money to fund it. But something truly remarkable took place. Decades of cynicism, disenchantment, and resentment over an entrenched Labour Party machine in Bradford, which had given rise to its very own label – the Baradari – the city’s very own version of Tammany Hall cronyism, corruption and political patronage – was almost overnight turned into a fervent hope and belief that with this particular election, and this particular candidate, a once-in-generation opportunity had arrived to uproot the machine and replace it with a new politics, serving the needs of a community that for too long had been looked upon as little more than election fodder.

On the ground the spark proved the active involvement of five brothers who together own and run their own firm of solicitors in the middle of the constituency. None of them had any record or history of involvement in politics up to Galloway’s arrival in the city. But what they did have was the respect of the community and an unsurpassed knowledge of the terrain, which they proceeded to call upon to take the campaign by the scruff of the neck, lift it up onto its feet, and propel it forward. They turned their entire offices into Respect Party campaign headquarters for the duration of the election and decided to dedicate a month to fighting and organising the campaign on a full time basis. From here they began to spread the word. Donations came flooding in. Then, as if sprouting out of the ground, came banners, posters, advertising hoardings, sound cars, placards, but most important of all an army of activists, the majority of them young people. With this youthful aspect came the sense and spirit of an insurgency from below, and soon the words Bradford Spring were being liberally spread to describe the phenomenon that was underway.

Alongside this subjective factor came objective conditions which ensured that Bradford’s needs after years of mismanagement and incompetence by a Labour controlled administration and local council, compounded by the vicious attacks of a Tory-led coalition government in Westminster, were many. With the youngest and fastest growing population in the UK outside of London, youth unemployment in parts of the city stands at 1 in 4, twice the national average. Married to cuts in services, a cycle of despair had descended – comprising alienation, rising crime, and schools that rank near the bottom of the government’s league table for excellence. A crumbling infrastructure as a result of a lack of investment and cuts to the local budget had deepened the impact of the recession in the city, leaving its centre colonised by charity shops, pound shops, and payday loan shops.

Moreover, a recent study had placed Bradford at the bottom of the retail security index, meaning that retail business are at greater risk of going out of business there than anywhere else in the country. Property prices have plummeted even further than in most of the country, and with manufacturing decimated in and around the city over the past three decades, an economic wasteland dominates. Interestingly, given the confluence of the aforementioned factors, Galloway’s campaign also drew support from local businessmen, tired of the gross mismanagement that had left the local economy decimated.

By far the most potent symbol of the council’s incompetence, and even corruption according to many prominent local voices, is the huge planned shopping and leisure centre development known as Westfield. The council sold the land to developers and pre-development work began in 2004 with the demolition of the former car park that formerly stood on the site. Millions of pounds in taxpayers’ money also poured into the project, but after six years in which zero construction had been undertaken, and after many of the retailers scheduled to take up slots upon completion of the project had pulled out, the development was mothballed in 2010. All that now stands in the spot where the centre was meant to have been built is a massive hole. Even worse, the original contract with the developers agreed by Bradford City Council inexplicably failed to include any penalty clauses over completion dates, with the result that moves are now being made to create a temporary park on the site instead – at a cost of £24 million.

On the ground resentment towards key officials within the council responsible for managing the schools system and local services had reached endemic proportions. The fact that a few of them live outside the city, in places where their families and children are cocooned from the poor schools and crumbling local services which they’re responsible for overseeing, had become a particular sore point, feeding the cynicism that had long taken root when it came to politics in general. Labour did not help matters with the selection of Imran Hussein as their candidate. A trained barrister and sitting local councillor, Hussein proved completely unconvincing, uninspiring and unsuited to the task. His refusal to debate with Galloway at local hustings events was not lost on the electorate, and his attempt to leverage support on the basis of communialism failed miserably. He was roundly derided by all sectors of the local community, and slaughtered by George in speech after speech, with the city’s youth playing a key role in leading a revolt against the local vested interests that made up his ever contracting support base.

George Galloway of course brings his own strengths to any movement, however on this occasion he outdid even himself, swept along and inspired by the sheer energy and dynamism of the campaign and its supporters, while in turn energising and inspiring them. It produced a synergy that produced a momentum which by polling day had become unstoppable. In concrete terms it manifested in him being on the campaign trail 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week, appearing everywhere in the constituency from boxing gyms, mosques, cafes, and restaurants to local businesses, colleges, schools and doorsteps. Everywhere he appeared a crowd materialised to listen to him speak, which he did tirelessly. On one memorable occasion the open-top election bus in which he toured the constituency in the final few days of campaigning was directed to the car park at the rear of a well known local restaurant.

Galloway emerged from the bus straight into the sea of people who’d been waiting patiently for his arrival. With his feet hardly touching the ground he was taken into the restaurant, up three flights of stairs and out onto a balcony, where a sound system had been set up in front of a giant Respect Party election poster. From this vantage point, overlooking the car park, he proceeded to talk to a crowd of hundreds, with more and more arriving throughout his speech. The cacophony of car horns that by this point accompanied his every movement and appearance throughout the constituency never let up, adding to what by now had turned into a carnival.

Pitching his campaign as a simple choice between ‘real’ Labour and new Labour, antiwar and pro-war, and anti-cuts and pro-cuts, able to do so in the knowledge that his entire political career has been founded on convictions that have remained solid regardless of the political weather, proved a strategic masterstroke. It did not hurt either that his years of devotion to the Palestinian cause and leadership of the antiwar movement had already earned him an iconic status with Bradford’s massive Asian and Muslim community.

Finally, and poignantly, an extra dimension was added to the campaign with the tragic death of Abu-bakr Rauf, who collapsed and died from a heart attack while out campaigning alongside the former and newly installed Respect MP. The 28 year old veteran of the local Stop the War movement and Viva Palestina convoys leaves behind a baby daughter and young widow, who insisted that the campaign continue regardless. The result was a sense of moral obligation on the part of those involved to go the extra mile in an effort to achieve the historic victory that emerged.

The potential political impact of this historic by election victory throughout the region is hard to quantify at this stage, though there is certain to be one. With council elections due in May, the conditions for the resurgence of Respect and a viable left of Labour alternative have never been more favourable.

After its annual Easter break, George Galloway will take his place in the House of Commons. The political establishment thought they were rid of him for good.

How wrong they were.

 

 

 

 

 

97 comments on “The Bradford Spring

  1. redcogs on said:

    i heard the strange David Blunkett doing a hatchet job on George Galloway earlier today – describing him as a ‘maverick’, and ending up more or less blaming the working class of Bradford west for getting it wrong and electing George and Respect into office.

    The Blairite capitalist scum who still prevail in Labour’s degenerate machine are not going away are they?

    Labour’s task for the future is to rescue the free market from any burgeoning movement towards sanity and socialism, and unfortunately there have already been voices calling for a ‘leftward tac’ (within Labour) to head off any influence that decent socialists (like Galloway) might have in the period ahead.

    The concern must be that a new generation of enthusiastic activists will once again fall into the downward spiral of encouraging people to place faith in Labour, oblivious to Labour’s history of betrayal and treachery.

    It is my hope that the trade unions in the Bradford area will now proceed to disaffiliate from Labour and direct their financial and political resources towards Respect.

    Longer term similar initiatives could see the development of a proper workers political party emerging, which may have a prospect of derailing Labour’s corrupt machine permanently?

  2. Pingback: George Galloway wins in Bradford West « 21stcenturymanifesto

  3. Sean Thompson on said:

    Well blow me down, what a turn up!

    As a former member of Respect, I have to confess to not being a total fan of George’s. However, it’s surely impossible not to be utterly chuffed by this result. It demonstrates that it is possible for a popular grass roots campaign to the left of Labour to shake it to its rotten core – if such a campaign, such a movement, aims to speak to what ordinary working people experience in their daily lives. There may well have been ‘special local factors’ in this by-election, but there are special local factors at work everywhere – it’s up to us to understand them and respond to them, as the Gorgeous One has done so successfully in Bradford. Well done Respect!

  4. Red mole on said:

    Congratulations to George on a magnificent result. The smears that were hearing from some Labour loyalists are the frantic noises of a party that’s lost it’s way and is running scared.

  5. Andrew Coates,

    I’m no great fan of Galloway’s, but who do you think should be ‘chuffed’ in the Middle East by a victory for Labour? The Saudi monarchy? The Bahrain dictatorship? Netanyahu? The Egyptian generals trying to abort the revolution? Maliki? All of those dictators and war criminals can feel sure of Labour’s continued support.

  6. Gathering her brows like a gathering storm on said:

    Ed cast you mind back. Who did GG say the following to?

    Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability, and I want you to know that we are with you, hatta al-nasr, hatta al-nasr, hatta al-Quds [until victory, until victory, until Jerusalem].

  7. AntiFascist on said:

    You’re celebrating this? You’re actually celebrating the rise of fascism in Yorkshire?

    You should all be utterly ashamed.

    (I know, this comment won’t stay up – astonished you haven’t deleted number 7 though)

  8. onlyoneteaminessex on said:

    # 13

    AntiFascist:
    You’re celebrating this? You’re actually celebrating the rise of fascism in Yorkshire?

    Fucking hell , this forum does attract them. :-)

    Are you actually sure that you know where Yorkshire is, let alone undestanding what fascism’s about. Or is AntiFascist just an expedient handle for you to use, fit for purpose ?

  9. prianikoff on said:

    Without wishing to rain on the Parade, I’d be a bit cautious about drawing conclusions about national politics from one result.
    Particularly one involving George Galloway, who has a long record as an MP.
    He’s also maintained a consistent media presence, even after losing the elections in Poplar and Glasgow.

    There are also Bradford-specific factors in his win.
    Not just a Labour candidate who needed a charisma transplant, but the whole question of political patronage.
    George Galloway challenged this and the rotten heritage of Tony Blair in the Labour Party.
    He’s struck a chord with the youth and Respect could also pick up some councillors in May.

    But winning a council majority, let alone forming a Government is a task of an entirely different order.
    Just a few days before the Bradford West by-election, one poll showed Labour were 10% ahead of the Tories nationally.

    Galloway was right to say Bradford West is a “victory for real Labour against New Labour” and for “anti-war” over “pro-war Labour”.
    Hopefully he will use his position in Parliament to pursue that message.

    Meanwhile, as the pitiful votes for the Tories and Liberals in Bradford show, the wheels are coming off the Coalition.
    They could be forced to resign if the unions step up their action over pensions and cuts.
    The left, both inside and outside of the Labour Party, needs to step up the campaign against them and formulate their plans for what comes next.

  10. Vincent Doherty on said:

    Massive congratulations to Respect and George Galloway on this enormous ocassion. I don’t go along with Galloway on a whole lot of issues but he has never shied away from the most important socilaist principle of outright opposition to imperialism. For this reson alone this victory shows that their is a constituencey out there which is responsive to a principaled socialist message and a fightback against the Con/Dems and the grostesque Blarite clones who control every aspect of New Labour.

  11. prianikoff: But winning a council majority, let alone forming a Government is a task of an entirely different order.

    No one is suggesting that this is the start of a campaign for a government.
    The most interesting and gratifying thing about this election is the way in which Respect, George Galloway himself (and rather impressively Salma Yaqoob on the Today programme this morning) situated the victory as a triumph for Labour values and Respect as part of the labour movement and a sa repudiation of austerity.
    It is clear that the campaign split the muslim vote, took a massive chunk of the Labour vote, probably snatched angry Lib Dem voters and mobilised large number of people who would normally not vote – most young people.

    The World at One completely missed the policy element in the swing (landslide) while the BBC political correspondent made it a question of Milliband’s failure to inspire Labour.
    The truth is that if they took on board policies advanced by the left, the unions and embodied in the People’s Charter even this sorry lot of Labour leaders would be an inspiration.

  12. Gathering her brows like a gathering storm,

    Nice diversion tactic – as I said, I’m no particular fan of Galloway and feel under no obligation to defend everything he has said. But when it comes to supporting dictators and war criminals in the Middle East, the Blairite Labour Party is second to none – Bahrain, the Saudi kingdom, Egypt, Netanyahu and his equally brutal predecessors. People who have spoken out against this record are entitled to criticise Galloway for his own record when it comes to Middle Eastern politics – those who haven’t, should keep their thoughts to themselves.

    I saw HP the other day posting that campaign leaflet, referring to Galloway’s support for the so-called ‘genocidal terrorist group’ Hamas – not in a million years would they describe Likud as ‘terrorist’, never mind ‘genocidal’, although it would be far more accurate in that case.

  13. ex-Labour voter on said:

    Well done. I am very pleased.

    Galloway has his faults but I am glad he has won.
    I’ve just been looking at Luke Akehurst’s tweets. Some of them are very amusing. There is even one from a Mr Damian McBride. Does anyone remember him? Splendid fellow, an absolute credit to the Labour Party!

  14. Is it possible to be a Labour member and not a great fan of Galloway or his approach to politics, but also quite happy at the wider significance of the result?

    I hope so.

  15. Jonny Mac on said:

    20 – well said paul. His campaign was expressly and unashamedly based around an appeal to Muslims as Muslims. Not as citizens, or workers, or as a class, but Muslims. This cannot, in any way, be described as a progressive strategy or development. On the contrary, it is reactionary and sectarian and fosters divisions in the wider community. And the worst part is that Galloway knows and understands that, but does it anyway, great cynic that he is. And this is a feted as a triumph for the Left? God – sorry, Allah, whom Galloway thanked immediately on his vitory – help us.

  16. Jellytot on said:

    @22 Your post is the height of churlishness and sour grapes and is just re-hashing the hysterical right-wing narrative.

    Respect won because their anti-cuts and anti-war arguments chimed with a majority of the electorate. They played a blinder!

    Well done George and Respect!

  17. cliff foot on said:

    Agree with Sean and Vincent, well done all involved, quite a victory. Salma Yaqoob was very good on the radio, despite the baiting of her by Justin Webb.
    Things have clearly changed, if Bradford is anything to go by. If Labour lose London (and I hope they dont)re the GLA elections and of course were Boris to win,, wither Ed Miliband’s future? (note that his brother is back on the scene)
    For Labour to lose Bradford is significant for a whole number of reasons. it’s good and hopefully a sign of political maturity, that many who crashed on the beaches of Respect around the split are talking again and trying to rise to the enornmous tasks ahead. GG back in Parliament can only aid a renewal of the left, particularly outside of the Westminster circus.

  18. I don’t think we need to offer a platform for bitter, right-wing, malicious, anti-Muslim, anti-socialist, anti-winning idiots, so I’m deleting them on sight. If people who claim to be on the left can’t see the brilliant significance of this, and choose instead to ignore the fact that this campaign was conducted solidly on an anti-cuts and anti-racism platform, then why the hell should we give space to them? Go back to Harry’s Place and vent your anger there.

    Also: Al – your comments kept ending up in spam for some reason. I liberated one, but the rest were dupes so I’ve deleted them.

  19. onlyoneteaminessex on said:

    Jonny Mac: Not as citizens, or workers, or as a class, but Muslims.

    Yep, they (the Muslim voters) are a homogenous mass of sheep with no other agenda but that of being Muslims. Strange though that GG won in the vast majority of areas across W Bradford. Now , was the New Labour candidate also a blue-eyed Catholic Scotsman who had no ethnic bonding to appeal to the self same Muslim’s, that you accuse Galloway of appealing to on narrow ethnic-religious grounds ? I think that you need to examine on a wider spectrum and where you”re coming from.

  20. Laurence Grant on said:

    [note from tony: Nope. I told you, take your embarassing bitterness elsewhere. Take your smears, your lies, your witch-hunts against any successful left-winger, your posturing, your pretend anti-racism, and your actual racism against Muslims, take it all – we’re all happy here today. Go and be miserable with the other bitter, angry small people who have absolutely nothing to say to the left, the progressive movement, trade unionists – or Muslims]

  21. onlyoneteaminessex on said:

    #27 aka Laurence Grant . What did the poet/songwriter once pen ? “Goodbye’s too good a word … so I’ll just bid YOU fare thee well.” Twat

  22. onlyoneteaminessex on said:

    #27 Changed your tune drastically from what you originally wrote haven’t you – which was nothing but hate-filled bile against Galloway.

  23. onlyoneteaminessex – I deleted his comment.

    I’m serious about this, these people have nothing, repeat nothing to offer us, the movement, anyone. The Paul Fauvets, the AWLs, the Harry’s Place, want nothing more than to destroy any meaningful left wing opposition to imperialism, racism etc. They don’t want to debate – if they did, their posts wouldn’t be dripping with lies, smears, sneers and innuendo.

    Their time has passed. This site is getting more and more popular precisely because it is a place where we can test ideas and be friendly while we’re doing it. Their stock in trade is the “gotcha”: They don’t want to discuss or persuade, they want to derail and destabilise.

    And yet they can’t understand why we won’t play their game. Just take a peek at right-wing sites like Shiraz Socialist – the main contributor to which posted here a few weeks ago that he thought Andy Newman “should be shot on sight”. I’m not joking – we kept the comment as evidence of his increasingly deranged and threatening behaviour. Why should we offer these people a platform? They spew hate, they try to destroy the left.

    I’m as aware as everyone of Galloway’s faults. Know why? Cos the guy is human. He’s a working class man with an amazing gob on him and brilliant tactical abilities, and an absolute, unwavering committment to justice for oppressed people. Why on earth should I imagine for one second that I will agree with everything he does?

    All I know is, this world, this country, this movement, is a far, far better place with George Galloway in it than any of the tiny, meaningless keyboard warriors who would never have the guts to do what George has done.

    And you know what? I’ve been fired on by both the Israeli and Egyptian military. When I read the words of frustrated keyboard soldiers, desperately wondering why they can’t convince us of the righteousness of their hate, I feel nothing but pity. You’ve given up on changing the world, so you want to stop anyone else doing it.

    What George and Kev, Rob, Arshad, Ian and countless unnamed mainly young people in Bradford have just done is amazing. Lots of people will be feeling hope today, when they were feeling none yesterday: We can resist the Tories’ onslaught. We can and we will.

  24. #30

    paul fauvet: Tony Collins boasts that he’s deleting comments he disagrees with on sight!
    One of the best things about Socialist Unity until now was the breadth of comments. Very little was censored.

    Paul

    Rest assured that there is no general change in policy. As you will see from this thread a number of comments have been left standing which are negative.

    I think all that Tony is saying is that comments that are obvioulsy intended only to offend and disrupt debate will be deleted.

    We have continue to welcome comments that are challenging, difficult, against the consensus or off message. But we hope that people enter the debate in a constructiev spirit, and sniping, sarcastic put downs, smears and inneundo will not be tolerated, but argued and constructive disagreement remains valued

  25. paul fauvet on said:

    So why was my comment chopped, Andy?

    I did not descend to obscenities, and I did not call Galloway a “fascist”, as some other commenters, who are clearly in need of a political dictionary, did.

    I cited his election literature smearing his opponent for his alleged drinking, his “All praise to Allah” remark, and his well known praise of sundry dictators in the past.

    Are all these things off limits?

  26. Absolutely Andy. What these people are posting today is the stuff from 2005, 2003, 2001, 2007.

    A good example of a comment that I’d never think of deleting is Francis King’s earlier. He actually said similar stuff to what some of our right-wing friends have said.

    So why have I left it? Cos Francis genuinely debates on here. Francis contributes. I am happy to sharply disagree with Francis. But Francis doesn’t try to destroy debate here, doesn’t try to simply smear his enemies.

    So even though Francis is saying similar stuff to what others have said, I’d never dream of deleting it even though I strongly disagree with it.

    Paul Fauvet posted several really nasty, destructive posts, which didn’t aim to be difficult or debateable, they merely lied. As did others who posted well-worn tropes about Galloway.

    If any of these people genuinely want to debate these issues, this is the place to do it. Even if I hate the political point.

    But the people I’ve named don’t want to do that. They don’t want to honestly discuss anything.

    All you have to do is look at the name one of the AWL/Harry’s Place people was posting under earlier; offensive stuff, aimed at polluting the comments and making the site feel nasty.

  27. Vanya on said:

    Tony- at last, we need far less tolerance of knobheads on this blog.

    I’ve said for a long time that the admin are far too liberal. A lot more of those who predict they’ll be deleted actually should be.

    There is no freedom of speech issue here, the WWW is huge and you can go and say what you want elsewhere. There’s no automatic right to say it here.

  28. I’m going to make a moderation decision here and say, let’s draw a line under my comments and not make this a discussion about the deletion of comments from 5 people, 2 of whom were already banned (one for racism and threats of violence). I might open a thread soon on the nature of left-wing debate, and ban anyone from commenting just to be ironic.

    I’d genuinely be interested to hear from others on the left about how we take Bradford out into the wider movement, and how we make sure this doesn’t exclude those who work in the Labour party. We’ll still be wanting to kick the Tories out. Neil Williams posted earlier about a conference, although these things get really bogged down. But let’s not rule anything out.

    If people are worried that George might not do this or that, well, get out there and give us a hand to make sure your ideas happen.

    [edit at 17.29: It’s worth saying that a number of comments that get deleted are from the same people posting using IP-faking proxies and different names – that should give you a clue to their intentions]

  29. paul fauvet on said:

    “Paul Fauvet posted several really nasty, destructive posts, which didn’t aim to be difficult or debateable, they merely lied”.

    I’m afraid you are the liar, Tony Collins, since in reality I submitted just one post.

    Most of my post referred to remarks made by Galloway and his campaign, so it hardly falls into the usual definition of lying.

  30. Well said,Tony, and an excellent riposte to Jonny Mac. They just don’t get it… As for Labour,they’re stuck with a dilemma and you can be sure that the HP/EDL “anti-communalist”types will be trying to counter this with the usual simplistic narratives (see above). This also weakens Ed Milliband,however and the Blairites will be licking their chops.

  31. The significance of this victory is the scale of the majority, even if every ‘Muslim’ voter supported George – unlikely given that the Labour candidate is well-connected to various Pakistani political elites – then he must have polled strongly among other groups; and in the mobilisation of youth.
    This could not have been possible unless the Respect campaign touched the deep beliefs of much of the natural Labour constituency.

    There is a useful discussion about the voting stats in this election in tomorrow’s Morning Star.

    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/117267

  32. Can people let me know please if they notice any significant improvement in site speed, or indeed any significant slowdown? I’ve just set loose some new code that looks like it could speed things up so that pages load a lot quicker. But if we get angry racists posting over and over again, the whole thing might grind to a halt. You never know.

  33. No better than the Far Right: I have been airbrushed out lest we have an open mature debate. I have been the subject of violent threats, abuse profane language etc. Also falsely accused of being Right Wing. I guessed that I may offer my honest opinion in a democratic society but like the racist student Liam Stacey some of you appear to be keyboard warrior bullies with no respect for anyone with a different opinion to you. I know many ‘old school’ true Socialists who would not share a room with people like you for being so disrespectful. You are your own worst enemies and that is why the Left is collapsing in upon itself. Violence aggression and selfishness are not the sole preserve of the street rioters it seems. I pity you for your hatred and lack of being able t

  34. I pity you for your hatred and lack of being able to grasp the simple concepts of respect for all men and open debate – call yourself socialists? Pah! Bully boys that’s all you are. Some other interesting and well formulated arguments and points on the board though even from some I disagree with. THAT IS THE NATURE OF DEMOCRACY

  35. For the record, whatever doubts I might have about aspects of his campaign, I’m looking forward to GG in Parliament doing what he does best – attacking the warmongers. It needs to be done.

  36. Laurence Grant’s comments are an example of how you don’t need to allow comments from everyone in order to have a debate. His previous comment, deleted by me, was really outrageous, and now you can see the sort of stuff he comes out with. Blogs don’t exist for people’s victimhood status. People who post the sort of bile he posts, but then claim they want “open mature debate” don’t even know the meaning of the word ‘irony’.

    Well, Laurence, if you wanted an open debate you wouldn’t have posted so much bile and smears in your first post. Other people saw it and know what I mean.

    If you want a debate, I suggest you grow up and stop acting like a kid in a playground. For anyone to say the left is “collapsing”, after one of the most staggering election victories in recent memory, really shows they’re not about debate or discussion, and all about throwing stones.

    Laurence, there’s a debate to be had. Try making some points that don’t revolve around your own hatred and prejudice, and instead act like an adult and make points that people can engage with. Nothing you’ve said so far can even be responded to, it’s so out there.

    Finally… you claim you have “been the subject of violent threats”. Where? Show me exactly where this has happened.

  37. Mick Leeds on said:

    This is a truly inspiring day for socialists and I for one will remember how I felt when I heard George had won. One of the most important messages is the non sectarian nature of his comments towards Labour. It is the politics of investment not cuts, anti imperialism and anti racism that count . If there is a big revival of the Labour Left based on these policies as a reaction to George’s victory, this will be tremendously positive. Anybody who wish to raise secondary issues in opposition to this development deserve to be consigned to the dustbin of history. What A great Day !

  38. prianikoff on said:

    The Labour leadership and the local MP’s in area, really don’t seem to get it.

    John Mann, the Labour MP for Bassetlaw writes (somewhat condescendingly) about canvassing in Bradford West:-

    “The 5% of our target Labour promises who are white were rock solid – and they voted Labour, just as we had a great response in White working class Clayton in previous canvassing.
    But the 95% of promises that were Asian names were rather different. Many had Galloway posters up: probably not a Labour vote. Young people were politely clear: they had already voted, for Galloway. Elderly people were politely vague in smiling and nodding. Nobody, but nobody mentioned Imran Hussain, Labour candidate and local councillor. Not in four hours.
    It was clear that something was significantly wrong.”

    http://labourlist.org/2012/03/bradford-debacle-galloway-is-right-labour-must-listen/

    He doesn’t seem to understand what though, attributing it all to a lack of Urdu-speaking canvassers in traditional dress. But neither he, nor Ed Miliband or Iain McNicol question the significance of the Labour candidate’s attitude to the Afghan war.

    The former sitting Labour MP Marsha Singh was a Sikh, not a Muslim. However, he had a record of opposing the war.

    In February 2011 he was a signatory to a letter in the Guardian calling for UK troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/feb/11/war-on-want-troop-withdrawal

    Labour’s candidate Imran Hussein defended the role of British troops in Afghanistan.
    This has much more significance than people think, particularly in the light of the recent Koran-burning incident and the massacre (allegedly) carried out by Sgt Bale.
    It explains why there was such a decisive shift away from him.

  39. Jellytot on said:

    @35I’d genuinely be interested to hear from others on the left about how we take Bradford out into the wider movement, and how we make sure this doesn’t exclude those who work in the Labour party. We’ll still be wanting to kick the Tories out. Neil Williams posted earlier about a conference, although these things get really bogged down. But let’s not rule anything out.

    That is an interesting and vital topic. On the electoral front getting Ken elected is the most urgent task.

    In terms of electoral work to the Left of Labour one thing is for certain; George Galloway and his party will be central to the discussion.

  40. It is a shame that Lawrence has aproached this debate in the unconstructive way he has, becasue from the profile of himself that he links to http://www.grantmoarcommunities.com/about-us/profiles/

    He clearly is an interesting man, with some well thought out views, as evidenced by his publiched work on populism in Latin American politics.

    Perhaps Lawrence could take a deep breath and then reframe his critique of George Galloway and RESPECt in a more measured and constructive way.

    I would like to hear what he has to say, if he could do it in a more fruitful manner. I certainly wouldn’t want to prevent him from commenting here in future just on the basis of excessive rudeness on his first occasion.

    After all, joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

  41. After all, joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

    See this is the problem with you communists, you base everything on religion.

  42. tigger on said:

    tony collins,

    God you swallowed the SWP dictionary whole!

    I do have to say that this is small but significant victory and despite my massive misgivings I have to say very well done. i will leave it at that and post my other comments elsewhere – not HP which I have not bothered to read consistently for 4 years now.

  43. jim mclean on said:

    The most wonderful thing about Tiggers
    Is tiggers are wonderful things
    The share my doubts about Galloway
    Yet celebrate the Bradford Spring

  44. Pingback: British anti-war politician Galloway wins by-election | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  45. Darkness at Noon on said:

    Francis King:
    For the record, whatever doubts I might have about aspects of his campaign, I’m looking forward to GG in Parliament doing what he does best – attacking the warmongers. It needs to be done.

    I thought he was in parliament to represent the interests of his constituents?

    But you clearly seem to approve the tactics of leveraging sectarian dogma to achieve power. In fact you seem to approve of GG abandoning any Socialist principles or agenda to hoodwink a community. Fact is that had GG stood as a Socialist, with a secular, inclusive Socialist platform, he would have failed.

  46. paul fauvet on said:

    Francis is looking forward to George Galloway’s performance in parliament, and no doubt so are his constituents.

    Unfortunately, if his performance as MP for Bethnal Green and Bow is anything to go by, they are likely to be disappointed.

    When Galloway represented that constituency he was largely absent from parliament. He attended 98 out of the 1,288 votes called during that period – an attendance rate of 7.6 per cent.

    It would be pleasing to imagine that Galloway has changed his ways and this time will show his face rather more often in the House of Commons. But I wouldn’t bank on it.

  47. This is one of the many subtle ways that people manage to smear Galloway. Not being at a vote, to them, means he wasn’t in Parliament. But he was. All the time. Working on constituent issues. He had a view that most of the time, this was a better way to represent his constituents. Maybe that’s right, maybe that’s wrong. But it’s not “performance”, it’s a political decision that his one vote was mostly meaningless. You can debate that point – But the point is, people like Paul Fauvet don’t want to debate. They just want to use every opportunity to turn people against anyone on the left who has any success, especially when it comes to standing up against raw military power.

    Of course, if George had been at all the votes and all the debates, then people like Paul fauvet would’ve accused him of neglecting the important constituency work.

    Stop the dishonesty.

  48. I thought he was in parliament to represent the interests of his constituents?

    And again here’s more dishonesty disguised as debate.

    George was elected overwhelmingly to represent a voice that wasn’t being heard in parliament. Darkness at Noon, what you mean is that George should’ve talked about roads and housing and hospitals, not about any issues of international significance.

    Are issues like war, massacres, torture, lies about WMD, not issues that concern his constituents? Don’t you think the people who voted for him wanted him to speak out about those subjects?

    Or should he have focussed on pot holes and that poor woman who can’t get out cos the council won’t fix the lifts?

    You might not have noticed, but our governments have taken us into many wars based on what they claim is a democratic mandate. Surely, then, every MP should be making representations based upon their constituents’ views on these subjects?

    After all, the mass of Labour, Tory and Lib Dem members spent plenty of time completely and uncritically speaking in Parliament about how much we needed to invade Iraq. Shouldn’t people who are against this madness be “represented” too? Or don’t we count?

    As for the rest of your post, just like everyone else of your politics you clearly haven’t the slightest clue what George campaigned on, and you have not really demonstrated what on earth “secular, inclusive socialism” might mean in your book.

  49. paul fauvet on said:

    Come off it, Tony Collins! Nobody has demanded that Galloway spend 365 days a year in parliament.

    I think we are all aware that there is a balance between attending parliamentary votes, holding surgeries in the constituency, making interventions in the media, speaking at conferences and meetings inside and outside the country etc.

    But an attendance rate of 7.6 per cent over a five year period is extremely low.

    And one of the reasons to elect socialist MPs is precisely so that the voice of the left is heard in parliament – which won’t happen if they don’t go to the place!

  50. But you absolutely detest George Galloway Paul, so what are you trying to gain? He made a political decision about how to divide up his time – as he put it, his choice was to vote for Blair’s bill or a Tory amendment, which was no choice at all. So he made a political decision. There is absolutely nothing Galloway can do that will make you say “well I don’t really agree with him, but good luck to him”. For people like you Galloway, who has launched no wars and killed no people, is worse than Blair, who has launched wars that have killed over a million.

    I think I can be fairly confident here and say, you don’t really care how much or how little time Galloway spends in or out of Parliament.

  51. jim mclean on said:

    “I think I can be fairly confident here and say, you don’t really care how much or how little time Galloway spends in or out of Parliament.”

    Lets face it as a one man band any time spent in Parliament may be wasted time. Think the idea is to use the position of MP to promote causes. If there were a genuine Respect group of MP’s that would be different. (Exception, when the vote is close and he may be able to swing something out of it for the benefits of the electorate.)

  52. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    tony collins: They just want to use every opportunity to turn people against anyone on the left who has any success, especially when it comes to standing up against raw military power.

    It was my understanding that Paul has spent a great many years working for or in support of the FRELIMO. I would say that the FRELIMO fighters who took on the South African army, the RENAMO mercenaries and the Rhodesians fit the bill as a group on the left that has some success in ‘standing up against raw military power’. Rather more than GG I would add.

  53. Exactly Jim. You’re in a really hard position if you’re on your own. You have to make what you feel are the best decisions for the entire movement you represent, which in George’s case is wider than one constituency.

    Those who criticise how George decided to spend his time aren’t actually saying “he got the balance wrong”. All they want to do is promote the idea that he’s lazy, when he works harder than most people in any other organisation I’ve been around. But that’s not good enough for people. They simply want to create the impression that the guy didn’t do any work.

  54. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    jim mclean: Lets face it as a one man band any time spent in Parliament may be wasted time.

    It may be mere nostalgia, but I do not think that CP MPs like Willie Gallacher and Phil Piratin wasted their time.

  55. jim mclean on said:

    Hasanyi_Janos: It may be mere nostalgia, but I do not think that CP MPs like Willie Gallacher and Phil Piratin wasted their time.

    Different Times, they were fully reported in the local press, and I have read some of the reports on Gallagher in the local library. Now Parliamentary reporting just provides a soundbite for the head honchos of the leading parties. I haven’t a feckin clue what my MP is doing at Westminster. Everybody knows what GG does, like it or not.

  56. Darkness. Please don’t try using demagogy against me. It doesn’t impress me, and it reflects badly on you. I have already stated that I think the innuendo in That Letter, if it is genuine, is out of order. Others have pointed out that it was in response to an attempt by the Labour candidate to play the religious card. Whoever started it, it all sets a very bad precedent.

    But your idea that GG somehow managed to “hoodwink a community” is absurd. I doubt that anyone who voted in that by-election had any illusions about him. Those who voted for him know that his most prominent campaigns will be against Western invasions and interventions in the Middle East. That is probably the main reason he got most of their votes. And if the “community” you have in mind is the community of Pakistani origin, I think they know better than anyone the havoc three decades of foreign military intervention in Afghanistan has wrought on Pakistan.

  57. Darkness at Noon on said:

    tony collins: And again here’s more dishonesty disguised as debate.

    George was elected overwhelmingly to represent a voice that wasn’t being heard in parliament. Darkness at Noon, what you mean is that George should’ve talked about roads and housing and hospitals, not about any issues of international significance.

    Are issues like war, massacres, torture, lies about WMD, not issues that concern his constituents? Don’t you think the people who voted for him wanted him to speak out about those subjects?

    Or should he have focussed on pot holes and that poor woman who can’t get out cos the council won’t fix the lifts?

    You might not have noticed, but our governments have taken us into many wars based on what they claim is a democratic mandate. Surely, then, every MP should be making representations based upon their constituents’ views on these subjects?

    After all, the mass of Labour, Tory and Lib Dem members spent plenty of time completely and uncritically speaking in Parliament about how much we needed to invade Iraq. Shouldn’t people who are against this madness be “represented” too? Or don’t we count?

    As for the rest of your post, just like everyone else of your politics you clearly haven’t the slightest clue what George campaigned on, and you have not really demonstrated what on earth “secular, inclusive socialism” might mean in your book.

    First of all, I think you credit GG with a bit too much ‘caring’ about things. This is quite clearly one of the most opportunistic and cynical plays in UK political history. Either you judge him on his complete track record of identifying and siding with reactionary powers and characters while at the same time voicing his opinions on supposedly more ‘global’ matters ‘people’ care about.

    The fact is that GG campaigned in a manner that framed his position in almost a wholly sectarian manner. He effectively implies that in some way he is a Muslim. He campaigns on the basis of the unrequited desires and fears of a Muslim constituency likely marginalised more than ever. He appeals to a poor community who believe that somehow he will change their lives. What he has done is infuse local politics with sensitive global issues that have nothing to do with issues in Bradford. He has found a critical mass of people who bought into the hype. He is a VERY smart chap. Smart and ultimately cynical because GG lives off of sectarianism and the patronage of these issues.

    Bradford is a troubled community – how is he going to repair that community? He isn’t, because he doesn’t have the goods to do so.

    It’s all good and well to say he was elected to voice opposition to war. But the fact is that GG isn’t opposed to war. He’s just opposed to some wars, namely wars that fall into his sectarian remit. Other wars he doesn’t care so much about.

  58. Darkness at Noon on said:

    Francis King: …and if the “community” you have in mind is the community of Pakistani origin, I think they know better than anyone the havoc three decades of foreign military intervention in Afghanistan has wrought on Pakistan.

    This is just a sham argument. What does it have to do with Bradford? It seems that you are just confirming that this was a wholly sectarian play. You are confirming that this played into the fears and prejudices of a community of ‘Pakistani’ origin. Don’t you see how dangerous this is? Can you really not see this?

  59. Darkness at Noon: siding with reactionary powers and characters

    The next Viva Palestina convoy is set to leave from Bradford next month. I anticipate it will now be ever bigger than before.

    I imagine you must hate that.

  60. My dear Darkness – I can’t see what is “sham” about my argument. If British politics started generally fragmenting along religious, confessional lines, that would indeed be very dangerous. But that is not the main thing which has happened here. GG has campaigned against Western invasions and interventions in the Middle East, and that has struck a particular chord with an electorate which still retains many ties with that part of the world. I can hardly think of anything more natural. But given the demographic of that constituency, GG has also clearly gained support from lots of people without any connection with Pakistan or any particular religious affinities. I find that rather reassuring – don’t you?

  61. #69

    Darkness at Noon: You are confirming that this played into the fears and prejudices of a community of ‘Pakistani’ origin. Don’t you see how dangerous this is? Can you really not see this?

    this is rather disingenuous as it seems to have been the Labour Party who shamelessly tried to play the communalist card in this election, and who have allegedly relied upon Tammany Hall cronyism for years based upon patronage within the Pkaistani community.

    RESPECT stood against communalism, not in support of it.

  62. Nick Fredman on said:

    Massive props to Galloway and the Respect campaign. Interesting to read that a significant issue was a disastrous development by the Australian-owned Westfield, which has blighted many suburbs and towns here. I hope we can get Galloway to come down for a speaking tour sometime (I’m still slightly miffed that his office didn’t return my emails about an interview for Green Left Weekly when I was going to be in London in 2008).

    I’ve no time for much of the pseudo-left criticism of Galloway e.g. the rather desperate and stupid “He’s just opposed to some wars” at 67: he’s very properly most concerned with the military adventures his own imperialist-capitalist state is embroiled in.

    But I would take issue with this comment:

    tony collins: I’m as aware as everyone of Galloway’s faults. Know why? Cos the guy is human. He’s a working class man with an amazing gob on him and brilliant tactical abilities, and an absolute, unwavering committment to justice for oppressed people. Why on earth should I imagine for one second that I will agree with everything he does?

    That’s a bit shallow isn’t it? Surely those positions and actions about which Galloway can be fairly criticised from the left have, apart from personal idiosyncrasies, got something to do with the contradictions of Labourism, which, even at its very best, is historically constituted in material connection with imperialism, divisions in the working class, and the spoils of office of a capitalist state and bureaucratised unions.

    That’s all a long-term discussion to be had on the left and best conducted in the context of enthusiastic support for positive breaks to the left, which this surely is.

  63. onlyoneteaminessex on said:

    Nick Fredman:

    I’ve no time for much of the pseudo-left criticism of Galloway e.g. the rather desperate and stupid “He’s just opposed to some wars” at 67 ….

    If that’s referring to George’s age (?) he was born in 1954 – not 1945

  64. Nick, you’re right it’s a shallow analysis, but necessarily so in the context of the audience I was referring to: those pretend hard left people for whom the only thing that matters are the flaws in someone’s politics. And my point is simply, why would anyone ever expect their allies to be perfect?

    For the rest of us, we need a more substantial analysis, but for that constituency which has nothing to say, ever, except how bad Galloway is, they need to start living in the real world, one where we’re all a mass of contradictions operating in complicated circumstances.

    Re your 2008 email, that was probably my fault. We separated out parliamentary email from outside email, and the outside email was in the order of thousands a week; stuff often simply got overlooked by mistake during the triage process. After George’s Senate appearance in 2005, we received 20,000 emails. We were still answering them a few years later, and had to give up in the end.

  65. “who have allegedly relied upon Tammany Hall cronyism for years based upon patronage within the Pakistani community.”

    Roy Hattersley : “For more than 30 years, I took the votes of Birmingham Muslims for granted. The Muslims themselves I treated with more respect. But if, at any time between 1964 and 1997 I heard of a Khan, Saleem or Iqbal who did not support Labour I was both outraged and astonished…I always assumed that their mothers and aunts (often on instruction) voted the same way as their husbands.”

    So long and thanks for all the outreach workers … mind, I said that after Bethnal Green, and Labour got that back.

  66. Dakotadogsbody on said:

    NuLabour is still NuLabour.

    As Bob Dylan poetically mused:

    When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

  67. Nick Fredman on said:

    tony collins: Re your 2008 email, that was probably my fault. We separated out parliamentary email from outside email, and the outside email was in the order of thousands a week

    No worries, the miff was very slight as I assumed the communications workload was heavy and, travelling with children for the first time and rather preoccupied, I didn’t try to phone while there.

    I reckon we could pack out Trades Hall in Melbourne and venues around the country for a Galloway gig so maybe I can meet and interview him if my proposal for an Oz tour is taken up.

  68. Andy Newman,

    Regardless of what Labour did, what do you make of the quite obvious references to rival religious piety in Galloway’s campaign literature, Andy? Were the whole of Bradford West behind him when he offered “all praise to Allah”, or was that a comment aimed at one particular segment of the electorate?

    These are fundamental issues that go to the heart of whether Galloway’s victory is repeatable or not.

  69. Not based on that bumwipe article you linked to. That’s the best you’ve got? Pathetic.

  70. #83: You do know that “Allah” is just Arabic for “God”, right? And you know that Galloway is a man of strong religious faith, like Hugo Chávez, right?

  71. VladtheDrac on said:

    As an SWP member, I do not agree with everything George says or does, but in this case, the victory at Bradford benefits the whole Left (conveniently just before the May Council elections) and the Respect campaign deserves the congratulations it is rightfully receiving. As an earlier commentator wrote the wheels are indeed coming off the Coalition and now is the time the put on maximum pressure to restart the Pensions campaign of industrial action.

  72. Doloras LaPicho,

    Deloras, you know as well as I do that his statements were ones of specifically Islamic piety, to appeal to Muslim voters as Muslims. Part of Galloway’s campaign was questioning the religious piety of his rival candidate. It may have been a relatively minor part, but he did make these claims in his largest public campaign rally, and I think we’d all agree it’s hardly appropriate behaviour for a socialist candidate.

  73. anne mc bride on said:

    in the wee sma` hours on bbc interview post result it was glorious and refreshing to hear a political animal talk fae his gut-when asked if he still supported `our troops`he replied of course i do,i want them out as we don`t have the blood or treasure to keep them there occupying another`s land.i want our troops out to save them coming home in a box.magnificent.he also said it was silly to think otherwise,it is.why isn`t anyone else stating the obvious?george says it so clearly.us working classes are politically impoverished by the westminster triangle.

  74. onlyoneteaminessex on said:

    anne mc bride:
    us working classes are politically impoverished by the westminster triangle.

    How many working classes are there , anne ?

  75. Pingback: UK: Galloway Respectin ehdokkaana parlamenttiin - Sosialismi.net

  76. Justice & Peace on said:

    This cheap Saddam link is just the one weak ass attempt to denigrate his name and it’s just Tory/Establishment hypocrisy. Anyone who understands realpolitik and how it works knows the game. His charity needed support and he grovelled for it. Wake the hell up for god’s sake please. Would you rather keep the Con/Libs and the £750 million spent on ousting Gaddafi whilst our country is deep in recession and being dragged through the theft of austerity ? It’s sad that country is full of worzel’s like you. On every forum right or left they live. Yawn yawn.

  77. please call 07827731060 Protest against the state stealing of our children and preventing of child abuse.

    Join This one and only Worldwide Peaceful Protest where the world leaders and the worlds media will be watching LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS FRIDAY 27TH JULY 10AM NO 10 DOWNING STREET LONDON ENGLAND join our face book page tell us of your event or you are attending our event.

    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=3531396651992&id=1484526999#!/groups/onevoiceforthekids/

    Our intention is to get as many people to peacefully blockade the streets stretching from Downing Street to the Olympic Stadium. Most of the world leaders will be present on the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games, not to mention the world’s media in tow.

    The Prime Minister has called for no protests to be allowed to take place on that day, as he feels bad publicity will only ensue. It is with all certainty, Mr Cameron will be receive bad press as we intend to use this platform to create a global investigation in to child stealing by all respective Governments around the world and, bring these people to account for their actions even, and I want to make this very clear, even if it means that our Prime Minister is arrested for lies against the British people.

    Justice and fairness is the root of every cause no matter what shape or form it may take, because if there was justice and fairness people would not feel the need to campaign against the lack of justice and to highlight it. It would suggest to me that the Government and Judges are more concerned with over crowded prisons than it is with justice.

    I have been saying the same thing since I started this campaign,

    we need people support network behind this or it will not work as effective. We welcome forging wider links with other like minded organisations around the world and we intend to demonstrate this people support network on the 27th July 2012, in London. To make a major impact on the opening ceremony to the games, we not only need a strategy but also people who want change.

    This is to be done peacefully and remember our targets are the world’s leaders that will be visiting the UK. This is our opportunity to make this protest count….the establishment want this day to go down in history as the opening ceremony to the London 2012 Olympic Games and, not to be remembered as a protest about the state stealing our children, corruption and greed, child abuse, forced adoption and secret family courts.

    There is no dress rehearsal for this protest, we only get one shot at this. The first day must be the best day we have out of the duration of the games. We must put these leaders on global notice that we no longer accept what they are doing. Their failure to listen to us has resulted in the exposure of the global agenda that they are trying to impose on us.

    The 27th July 2012 is the perfect platform to stand on worldwide, to expose these leaders for what they are, “CRIMINALS”.

    The uprising has begun, what will you do to support your fellow human beings in their fight to win back their country? What will you do to expose these tyrants? Me personally, will take steps others would not and, if we don’t do this, our children and their will not have a future worth living. Walking round like robotic zombies created by the elite of the corporate world. Unacceptable.orge if you can support us well done in bradford elections

  78. So one trojan, quasi-socialist organisation (The Labour Party) is defeated in a by-election by another quasi-socialist organisation, so no change there in Bradfordham-upon-Sea, Somewhere in the North. George is principally a British Nationalist, masquerading as left, as he did in the Labour Party, the litmus test is his opposition to Scottish Independence, he should know enough about the shady sectarianism of Scottish trade-unionism, to regard those unions as no friend of liberty but rather of reinforcing divide and rule and the status quo. The trade unions might be comfortably old-Labour for some but it’s impossible to talk of them collectively, there are many wolves in sheeps clothing, treacherously following counter-agendas, they’ve always been ultra-nationalist, not merely through concern about shrinking constituency and thus membership but reinforcing and entrenching their fiefdom.

    The surest way of kick-starting real lasting political change in these countries is breaking down the Westminster system, the British composite state (that made George Galloway – the hand that feeds him) into its constituent nations, England Scotland, bit of Ireland, Wales -and his rabid opposition to Independence – normality internationally – for England, Scotland etc. and as a bonus isolating the English pro-war, pro Zionism few, along with the US and Israel in their naked aggression, is irrational and self-defeating of his purported goals.

    This is a victory for George Galloway and the Respect Party, when the very system of parties is at the very heart too of the failure of our sham-democracy, don’t try to claim it from him, for the glory of the dodgier trade unions, those WASP blue-collar champions or some long dead Old-Labour, that never survived grafting of New Labour onto it.

  79. Andy McQuade on said:

    Lawrence Shaw:
    Is it possible to be a Labour member and not a great fan of Galloway or his approach to politics, but also quite happy at the wider significance of the result?

    I hope so.

    Makes two of us. Mixed feelings about GG, but never have I doubted his integrity, principles or convictions. I am very happy. I just pray that this is the start of a movement where like-minded honest and fair individuals/independents can take inspiration from him.

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