As is often the case with by-elections, the Bradford West one is being extrapolated as an indicator for the whole country, supposedly showing a decline in Labour support and disillusionment with the main parties. The obsession with by-election results is strange: in a general election, hundreds of seats are in contention. Individually, most of these are not considered particularly important and can often buck the national trend. The Bradford West constituency, incidentally, did so with a 2.9% swing to the Conservatives from Labour, in the 2010 election.
I do not know enough about the politics of the Bradford West area, however George Galloway’s success last night certainly seems fairly unrelated to recent Westminster happenings. George Galloway is the most high profile Respect candidate, who is part-politician, part-celebrity and whose most famous moment amongst the general public was the cat incident in Big Brother. Respect may be able to do well in similar Northern towns at the next election, however to present it as a major threat to the three main parties is an overstatement: nationally the Respect-Unity coalition got only 33 thousand votes in 2010, less than the English Democrats and the Alliance Party. This was just 6.8% of the total vote in the constituencies where they stood and 0.1% of the total UK vote. Analysing Labour’s strengthened lead in recent national polls is surely what should interest political commenters more.
*edited 23/04/2012 to add links*