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Anti-war campaigner Galloway claims by-election win in 'Bradford Spring'

The controversial former Celebrity Big Brother contestant was the surprise winner of the Bradford West vote last night.

Galloway celebrates with supporters at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre in Bradford last night.
Galloway celebrates with supporters at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre in Bradford last night.
Image: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE ANTI-WAR Campaigner and former Labour party MP George Galloway has claimed a surprise win in the Bradford West by-election overnight saying that it was “the most sensational victory in British political history”.

Galloway, who is famed for his soaring rhetoric and appearance on Celebrity Big Brother, won the by-election on a huge swing from the Labour Party who had held the seat since the 1970s and won it at the last general election two years ago with a comfortable majority of over 5,000.

The controversial politician likened the win to a ‘Bradford Spring’.

“By the grace of God, we have won the most sensational victory in British political history,” Galloway, an MP for his own Respect Party, told supporters after the win was confirmed at the count centre.

YouTube: Respectnewschannel

The Guardian reports that on a turnout of just under 51 per cent, the 57-year-old won with a majority of over 10,000 votes, beating Labour’s Imran Hussein on a 36.5 per cent swing from Labour to Respect.

The by-election was triggered after Labour’s Marsha Singh resigned due to illness earlier this year.

Galloway is a controversial figure in British politics who co-founded the anti-war Respect Party in 2003 after being expelled from Labour over comments he made as part of his opposition to the Iraq War in 2003.

He won a Westminster seat in Bethnal Green and Bow in 2005 and shortly afterwards made an extraordinary appearance in front of US senators who accused him of profiting from oil dealings in Iraq.

In a combative and memorable appearance, Galloway accused the senators of creating the “mother of all smokescreens”:

YouTube: Chris1260

In 2006, he appeared on Celebrity Big Brother where he dressed up in a leotard and pretended to be a cat, a move which was criticised by constituents who questioned Galloway’s commitment to them by going on the programme.

Not without controversy, Galloway was criticised by the UK Charity Commission in 2007 for failing to make sufficient inquiruies into donations to his charity, the Mariam Appeal, which he set up in 1998 to bring a young Iraqi boy to the UK for medical treatment.

The appeal had received donations connected with improper transactions made under the Iraqi oil-for-food programme, the commission said. Galloway claimed that the inquiry had been “politicised”.

Most recently, Galloway lost his attempt win another Respect seat in the 2010 general election in the Poplar and Limehouse constituency and last year failed to get elected to the Scottish Parliament.

His win in Bradford West was unexpected with one bookmaker putting him at 33/1 at the start of the campaign. The BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson said it was “surely a one-off political coup by a political one-off”.

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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