Whatever you think of George Galloway, the main parties should take heed. This is the public putting a rocket up your bum. It's no use dismissing this arrogantly as the victory of "communalism", "oh it was just the Muslim vote", and all the other whining I've seen and heard since he won his astonishing 36 per cent swing in last night's Bradford West by-election for the Respect party. The voters have noted that the Tories are emboldened in their attacks on every aspect of life for anybody who isn't a top earner while the creepy Lib Dems facilitate their pillage and Labour flails pathetically.
Yes, he has a monstrous ego. Yes, he sues at the drop of a mention of his affiliations or parts of his past. Yes, he wore a cock-hugging leotard, aired his sinister submissive side when he role-played a cat with Rula Lenska on Big Brother and was a beastly bully to the two young contestants on the show. All that is true.
But he defends the Palestinians articulately and with gusto — his performances in the US and against the awful Sky newsreader were impressive. And he is now saying what most of us are saying. While Labour can barely muster the energy to pretend they care about the damage being done to British society, Galloway provides a voice, an analysis and a willingness to fight this corner where no others will.
If Labour doesn't like Galloway then the solution is easy. Start doing your job so Galloway doesn't have to.
UPDATE: In one predominantly white middle-class ward, 900 votes went to Respect while only 40 went to Labour.
Sunday 8th April 2012 — Patrick Coburn in the Independent:
The Economist, after recording that Mr Galloway is "a hate figure for the British establishment", claims he won his seat "mostly by touting his opposition to the war in Afghanistan." (Note the use of the loaded word "touting".) But what should be more relevant to current British politics than the Afghan war where 407 British soldiers have been killed and a small British army of 9,500 is still fighting? It is a conflict in which men and women have died and are dying in vain: their intervention has achieved nothing; the Taliban are not being defeated and this should long have been self-evident.