by Ray Fleming

George Galloway claimed his win in Thursday's West Bradford by-election as “The most sensational victory in British political history” and he may have a point. A 36 per cent swing from Labour to Galloway's Respect party and a 23 per cent fall in the Conservative vote was a remarkable achievement for what is really a one-man band. Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman admitted it was a “very bad” result and the Conservatives said they were “disappointed”; the Liberal Democrats, UKIP and others were nowhere in the 50 per cent turnout. However, before too many broad conclusions are drawn it is important to remember that West Bradford is not a typical constituency and that Mr Galloway campaigned on foreign policy issues of special interest to local voters, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq especially, while the other parties concentrated on more conventional domestic issues such as the economy.

Mr Galloway's return to the House of Commons should be welcomed. He is the best orator in British politics today and he brings a dimension to the debates on Middle East issues that no one else can provide. He is neither liked nor trusted by the majority of politicians and members of the general public for reasons that are not always clear except for his insistence in drawing attention to what he sees as inconvenient truths and blatant hypocrisy.

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