No matter how bad things get for David Cameron, there is a sense that they will never be truly calamitous until the Labour Party can get its act together.
The government has been suffering its worst week since the General Election, but just in time here comes Labour to the rescue. The sensational victory of George Galloway in Bradford West is a disaster for Ed Miliband. Galloway didn’t just sneak a win; he thumped Labour, got 56 per cent of the vote and secured a 10,100 majority.
Lucky old Cameron. Labour’s position had seemingly been improving on the back of the Government’s Keystone Kops creation of a fuel crisis, the donor scandal and a botched budget. The Opposition had opened up a 10pt lead. In such circumstances, Bradford West is the kind of seat Labour should be winning comfortably.
Labour spokesman are blaming Big Brother, ascribing Galloway’s victory to his celebrity, which results in part from him pretending to be a cat (wearing a bright red cat-suit) with Rula Lenska in an infamous scene from the dire reality TV show. Another Labour MP said it was all about Iraq. Perhaps that is a lingering factor, but the invasion of Iraq was nine years ago.
Galloway surely has a point when he says that%
First it was horse-gate. Then came donor-gate. Now it’s pasty-gate. The Tories’ ambition to become a party for the whole country – and not just for the wealthy few – has taken a pounding in recent weeks. Each of these stories has its amusing side, of course, but they hit the Conservatives in a sore spot: their difficulty breaking through in the North and the Midlands, and among ordinary working voters. If the party can’t do these things, it won’t win an overall majority at the next general election.
It is often asked whether the Cameroons understand working voters outside the South. It’s telling that if you ask a Westminster journalist what “Tory modernisation” was about, they’ll talk about hugging huskies (and hoodies), promoting greenery, and padding around the office without your shoes on. This is a misleading stereotype. In reality, the efforts to reassure voters on the NHS and to restore a reputation for economic competence were much more important. That first phase of modernisation succeeded enough to make Cameron prime minister, but not to get him a majority. That’s because – and in light of recent events and the message they’ve sent, this is key – the most important part of the j
This morning the Labour Party is no longer fighting to win the next election. It’s fighting to stay in existence.
George Galloway’s win is the most catastrophic result for the Labour party since Roy Jenkins and the SDP’s challenge in Warrington in 1981. Though in Warrington Jenkins lost narrowly. Gorgeous George is again off to Westminster.
There are mitigating factors, of course: turnout, demography, local issues. But they are sidebars. In a safe Labour seat, in the middle of the worst period of austerity for a generation, following a catastrophic Budget, at the end of a week in which the Government appeared to be falling apart at the seams, Labour has lost. And, most devastatingly of all, lost to a threat from the Left.
There are some people in the Labour movement who have been warning for some time of the looming threat on Labour’s Left flank. They – sorry, we – have also argued repeatedly that Labour’s small opinion-poll leads and previous by–election victories masked a growing political and structural vacuum at the centre of the party, one that the movements more militant elements were preparing to fill.
Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability. It is hard not to feel a batsqueak of admiration for George Galloway. Most British people like to see mavericks beating the system, and Gorgeous George has smarmed his way through personal, political and financial crises that would have brought down almost any other public figure. His self-belief is like some inexorable force of nature.
It is none the less depressing to watch him creating identity politics in Great Britain. When candidates seek office by growing beards, proclaiming their dislike of alcohol, ostentatiously adopting Muslim phraseology and focusing almost wholly on foreign policy, they do little to encourage national cohesion.
I have seen confessional and ethnic politics at work around Europe. In little pockets across the Continent, parties have sprung up to represent linguistic minorities and irredenti communities. They are always complacent and frequently corrupt, for nothing is more deleterious to democratic engagement than the belief that you have to vote for ‘your’ party. Candidates take voters for granted; voters stop caring about manifestos.
We have so far, thank Heaven (or ‘Masha’Allah’
It said Defence Minister Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Foreign Minister Saudi al-Faisal and the kingdom’s intelligence chief, Mogran bin Abdul Aziz, also took part in the meeting but gave no further details.
Clinton is due on Saturday to hold talks in Riyadh with ministers of Saudi Arabia’s five Gulf Arab neighbours – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – before broader meetings Sunday with Arab, Turkish and Western officials in Istanbul.
The Friends of Syria meeting in Turkey follows the inaugural one Clinton attended in Tunis at the end of February – a response to Western and Arab failure to win Russian and Chinese backing at the UN Security Council.
Aides said Clinton will discuss how to make President Bashar al-Assad comply with a new plan to end his crackdown on a pro-democracy movement, study further sanctions against his regime and consider ways to aid the opposition who will be in Istanbul.
On Thursday, Assad said he would “spare no effort” for the success of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan but warned the proposal would only work if “terrorist acts” backed by foreign powers stopped.
The Labour leader said there were lessons to learn from the shock result in which the Respect candidate won with a majority of more than 10,000.
Mr Galloway described his victory as “the most sensational victory in British political history” while claiming the rejection of mainstream parties represented a “Bradford Spring” uprising.
Mr Miliband said he would personally visit the constituency as the party tries to reclaim its hold on the seat.
“It was an incredibly disappointing result for Labour in Bradford West and I am determined that we learn lessons of what happened,” he said.
“I’m going to lead that. I’m going to be going back to the constituency in the coming weeks to talk to people there about why this result happened.