The Bradford Spring – Big Brother is watching you…

30 03 2012

 The thoughts of ‘Gorgeous George’: 

‘…the disappearance of the Soviet Union is the biggest catastrophe of my life – if there was a Soviet Union today, we would not be… plunging into a new war in the Middle East, and the US would not be rampaging around the globe.’ – George Galloway on Iraq

‘Sir I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability’ – Galloway to Saddam Hussein 

‘…Not at all. I had three goals and all of them were met….to raise a significant amount of money for Palestinian refugees…to use my fee to employ two new members of staff in my constituency office…to take my existence and the Respect party to a wider and bigger public…’ – Galloway on whether ‘Celebrity Big Brother‘ was a mistake.

 ‘…the most sensational result in British by-election history.’ – Galloway on the ‘Bradford Spring’

‘Labour has been hit by a tidal wave in a seat it held for many decades in a city it dominated for 100 years…’ – Galloway on his former Party – Labour

You couldn’t have written the script.

Following a post budget week in which the press and TV media had become so obsessed with ‘Granny tax’, ‘Pasty-Gate’, Pay for View meetings with the PM, and the growing mayhem at Britain’s petrol pumps, they were well and truly caught on the wrong foot by the emergence of the biggest story of all.

They had been so eaten up by the plight of the poor pasty, following the announcement that VAT will be slapped on a staple, hearty, food for millions. And then there were,‘Call me Dave’,Cameron’s sound-bites, announcing himself as a card-carrying pasty lover who will be affected along with the rest of us – ‘I’m a pasty eater myself. I go to Cornwall on holiday. I love a hot pasty’. Well he distinctly remembers buying one, once anyway, from the West Cornwall Pasty Company on Leeds Station – an outlet that closed in 2007.

They had been so fuelled up by petrol pump panic buying, following Cabinet Minister Francis Maude’s ill-timed advice to be prepared for the, still to be announced, petrol tank drivers’ strike. And we were all too busy queuing, topping up as soon as the gauge dipped below ¾ full (or ¼ empty), and – to hell with the fire hazard – filling our jerrycans for good measure.     

No one saw it coming.

Nobody noticed, the former celebrity ‘cat’ from the Big Brother house, Gorgeous George Galloway, pussy footing his way through the Bradford West by-election, licking his lips and preening his whiskers in anticipation of the, cat that got the cream, photo-calls, and the grudging ‘Respect’ from his political opponents, that would herald his return to Westminster, with a 10,000 (that is ten thousand) vote majority!          

By-elections, notoriously, throw up unexpected results but not too many foresaw the scale of this upset, in what was considered a safe Labour seat, and at the back-end of a difficult week for the Coalition, in which Labour had extended their lead in the opinion polls.

So the Respect Party politician who was once dubbed ‘the honourable member for Baghdad Central’, following his contact with Saddam Hussein, is now the honourable member, for what many of its inhabitants refer to as ‘the forgotten city’, Bradford (West).

While Galloway basked in his glorious ‘Bradford Spring’, Labour MP, Toby Perkins summed the situation up as follows: ‘They’d seen him on Big Brother. They wanted him on their streets and now they’ve got it, and let’s hope he lives up to the promise that he’s made to them and actually delivers…which hasn’t always been the experience of constituents.’

One thing is for certain ‘Gorgeous George’ is nobody’s fool, and he can certainly talk the talk. Whether the born again parliamentarian can walk the walk, in his adopted constituency, is another story – only time will tell.

Bill Bryson once remarked, ‘Bradford’s role in life is to make every place in the world look better by comparison.’

There is little doubt that Galloway’s presence will help raise the profile of a city with an image that suffered badly at the hands of the recent, so-called, ‘ground-breaking’, Channel 4 documentary ‘Make Bradford British’. Judging by which, he will certainly have his work cut out to unify its multi-cultural population.   

However, what Galloway’s success does highlight is the enormity of the general public’s current dissatisfaction with all three mainstream parties, and how worryingly ineffective Labour has been, in opposition, with the Coalition government at its lowest ebb since May 2010.   

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