George Galloway began his own account of the victory achieved last night with the words “The Bradford spring. No matter how seemingly powerful, no corrupted, out-of-touch elite can last forever.” Despite what anyone may think of George Galloway, his words will resonate with a large number of disaffected working people internationally. Even prior to the victory yesterday (29th March) in the Bradford West by-election; a Respect rally on the 26th of March saw over a thousand attendees. The overwhelming victory with a clear 10,000 vote margin between Mr Galloway and the second place, Labour candidate, Imran Hussain, is a clear indication of a working class indictment of the Labour Party as any form of electoral driving force against the Con-Dem coalition.
George Galloway, as one of the founding members of the Respect Party in 2004 (after his expulsion from Labour in 2003), is renowned for his opposition to the Iraq war, his open support for Palestine in the Israel-Palestine conflict, and for some, maybe even his appearance on the reality show, Big Brother. Galloway has built his career on activism within a multitude of movements, including the charity War on Want, the pressure group Stop the War and being heavily involved in the Viva Palestina aid convoy in 2009. Galloway represents to many an electoral alternative to the traditional “big three”. His continual anti-Imperialist rhetoric, as well as frank attacks against the Labour government of the Blair years and since, have given him a certain level of credibility in some of the so-called “radical” Left circles in Britain, though he’s also earned his fair share of critics for his sometimes overtly controversial views on dictatorial regimes such as Iran and Syria.
George Galloway may try and draw a grandiose narrative defining his electoral victory on similar terms as the so-called “Arab Spring”, but despite the overt references, the notes of disaffection with the established elite has made itself apparent more acutely in recent years. The riots last summer still hang heavily on the minds of many politicians and media pundits alike who worry about the potential for more riots this summer. With the ever-increasing levels of worker militancy and industrial action across the continent and internationally, the disaffection is not simply an English phenomenon. It also has manifest itself with increasing levels of support for the far-right from the radical petty-bourgeois elements in society, due to the increasing incapacity of the ruling elites to traverse the economic crisis that is the global recession.
While several pundits and even the Liberal Democrat Bradford East MP, attempt to malign Galloway’s victory as some form of mobilisation of the “migrant” or “Muslim” vote, they are attempting to distract from the fact that the victory of such a controversial figure is down to a growing nationwide disaffection with the established “big three”. The refuge for such commentators is to try and pretend that the British public is still in step with mainstream politics, Ed Miliband’s suggestion that the victory was “to do with local factors”, is an implicit suggestion that this victory must have been a freak accident of seemingly “foreign” or potentially “subversive” elements, rather than any real confrontation to the failing established parties. This tactic of denial is a sign of the desperation of the traditional powers that be to try and cling to the traditional framework they are used to, while support continues to plummet.
George Galloway’s victory may be a shift to the Left within electoral politics, but the continuing militancy of the working classes highlight that they have far surpassed this shift. Despite trade union bureaucracies attempting to collude with governments for the imposition of austerity measures, general strikes such as the Spanish strike movement of almost a million workers yesterday (29th March), as well as the “occupy” movement (which still has encampments internationally despite the crushing of the Wall St and St Paul’s Square branches of the movement) highlight the power and growing potential of a revolutionary working class to bring about a Socialist alternative to the current decaying capitalist system.
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This post was written by Ben Maisky