The questions race through the mind like Grand Prix cars pelting round a chicane, but to each the only response is a squeal of mesmerised incredulity. After a week of undiluted governmental fiasco, who could have imagined that Ed Miliband would end it looking the most bamboozled, anaemic – yup, you guessed it – pasty? Who even knew a by-election was being held in Bradford before hearing the result… and who that did had an inkling of the shock to come? What does it say about the state of mainstream politics, and what does it presage for the future? And whatever next in the outlandish public life of George Galloway MP?
For every Allahu Akbar echoing through the mosques of West Yorkshire, 10,000 “gawd help us-es” will be resounding elsewhere at his latest renaissance, though none as anguished as Little Ed’s. We all know that by-elections are momentary snapshots with little long-term predictive relevance. Gorgeous George first reached Parliament in 1987 by taking Glasgow Hillhead from Roy Jenkins, who had originally won it for the SDP in a famous by-election upset.