George Galloway — The Bradford Spring
George Galloway has been returned on a stupendous majority from Bradford West. As the experts pick over the result, many seem to be saying that Galloway’s victory is a rejection of the main political parties and of the Labour party. Galloway and, to an extent, the pundits say that this is an embrace of RESPECT policy; nothing of the sort — this result is as egoistic as the party itself, Bradford West has elected an MP who represents the Galloway Party.
Furthermore, politicians, media people and Ed Miliband call this a concerted abandonment of the Labour party; do they actually think that Labour won convincingly five of the past six by-elections (the one which they lost was a Sinn Féin hold), and then suddenly lost this one due to a dramatic failure of policy? After Miliband’s slightly more convincing performance in parliament and a series of coalition clutz episodes? Galloway would have won in several of the by-elections which have gone before and could win in the ones which are coming as well. If the RESPECT MP had not run on this occasion, the constituency would probably have seen a Labour hold. This doesn’t tell Labour, the coalition or anyone anything about policy, all it tells us is that Galloway is an effective politician — many people already knew that.
The man is efficacious, he can don a sharp suit and is very able to ingratiate himself with a certain audience or community. Some people think that he is a good orator (to me his style seems to be to speak very slowly and with a little to much volume). He is attractive to a lot of people, and with the right timing and seat he has bust back into parliament. This is no rejection of the major parties or of austerity or war, this is a powerful politician getting elected due his personal dynamism, while he smirks because he will never be called to deliver his promises. If there were more Galloways, they would win in other seats.
I suppose that I’m glad that there is only one Galloway, because it means that there will only be one victory speech this burdened with personal masturbation and politico-national self-flagellation. ‘Uprising’ was the noun which he used to describe his win, ‘The Bradford Spring’ — this both the most sickly verbal molasses and bombast political larceny. As I have argued before, Galloway’s victory isn’t the action of a populace accepting the validity of his policies, it is the action of a populace accepting him.
He then progressed to the Labour party subject, which he expected would want to admit their sins and ask him for forgiveness; giving the impression of a man who considered himself to be channeling the opinion of the people, acting for a greater good or working for a supreme force. I suppose that his analysis that the Labour government of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown is guilty of certain transgressions is hard to refute but, setting it alongside the other executives in parliamentary history, it comes out looking like something near exemplary — the exception being Iraq, a war which about which I still haven’t decided.
He insisted that Labour should be a ‘labour party’. This is a very tricky issue, and there are diverse ways of addressing it. One quite convincing argument for New Labour (and don’t think that this is my opinion, per se) is that the actions of the Labour government of 1945, such as creating the NHS, massively expanding the facilities for education and setting up a modern welfare state, actually contributed to a process where the Labour Party — as it was then — is irrelevant now. Because people do not automatically fall into destitution if they become ill, because they are healthy and knowledgeable, they are able to compete more fairly for economic improvement. Currently, a greater number of people are comfortable than when Labour was first elected with a full majority, meaning that there is a smaller appetite for the kind of sweeping social policies which the great Atlee achieved. Wilson, and Callaghan knew this, because the process was happening when they won their elections, and Blair knew it too. This is not to say that progressive politics should be abandoned, but that making Labour into Old Labour may create a fossil, the unelectability of which is a greater upset than the dilution of left wing politics.
I suppose that into the weekend, the brains will continue to assign meaning to a result which, while astounding, means only that the new MP is a popular guy; who returned to politics soon enough so that people knew who he was, but having taken enough of a break for people to forget how annoying he is. One could hear a slight modulation in Galloway’s voice when he declared that ‘RESPECT is here to stay’, as if he knew that the name of his party would be better representing Ali G than does him. So, keep it real Galloway, in Parliament and hereafter.