Despite odd’s on Respect being slashed yesterday, there’s one major reason why George Galloway’s party doesn’t stand a chance in tomorrow’s Rotherham by-election — and it isn’t because their campaign office was still locked at 9:30 this morning (above).
Some have correctly observed that George Galloway’s coup in Bradford marked “the beginning of the end of Labour’s ethnic minority bloc vote politics”. But there is one major barrier to the extension of the franchise forty miles down the M1: there is no such minority bloc in Rotherham.
Though it includes those not of voting age, census data for Bradford West clearly shows that the Muslim Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi population which formed the Respect/Galloway base dwarfed the 5,763 majority that Labour by-election campaigners inherited from Marsha Singh. In contrast, just 4,467 people of South Asian origin live in Rotherham according to the last available stats — much smaller than Denis MacShane’s 10,462 lead over the Conservatives.
Don’t believe the hype.
Despite the usual by-election “expectation management” yesterday, there was no doubt that Labour had expected to win the Bradford West by-election comfortably.
Indeed, the ease within Labour ranks was epitomised by editor of What’s Next For Labour and would-be party insider Tom Scholes-Fogg, who last night tweeted:
Although Labour candidate Imran Hussain was from the Pakistani Bradford’s majority Kashmiri community, specifically from the city of Mirpur, alienation of influential factions in what should have been his voting base is thought to have played a significant role in his defeat.
On the organisational front, one Pakistani Labour activist with extensive experience of campaigning in similar northern mill town seats told Scrapbook:
“When I went to Oldham East and Saddleworth, you knew there was an election on. In Bradford there was no atmosphere whatsoever. It was just dead.”
And with the Tories standing an Asian candidate in every election since 1997, their ethnic minority voters rejected candidate Jackie Whiteley after anti-immigration leaflets were distributed in white areas – but opted for Galloway instead of Hussain.
Galloway has landed: shops in Bradford are stocking up on cigars as we speak.