Bradford West by-election, 2012

Bradford West by-election, 2012

29 March 2012 (2012-03-29)

The Bradford West seat in the House of Commons.
Elected by simple majority using first past the post.
Triggered by resignation of incumbent

  First party Second party Third party
Candidate George Galloway Imran Hussain Jackie Whiteley
Party Respect Labour Conservative
Popular vote 18,341 8,201 2,746
Percentage 55.9% 25.0% 8.4%
Swing 52.8% 20.3% 22.7%

Boundary of Bradford West in West Yorkshire.

MP before election

Marsha Singh

Subsequent MP

George Galloway

The Bradford West by-election was a by-election in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom constituency of Bradford West, which was held on Thursday 29 March 2012. The writ for the by-election was moved and accepted on 6 March 2012.

It was unexpectedly[1] won by George Galloway of the Respect Party who defeated the Labour Party candidate by a large margin in a result referred to by Galloway as the "Bradford Spring" (by analogy with the Arab Spring).[2] Galloway said the election result was Bradford's "peaceful democratic uprising" version of the riots which swept through England in August 2011.[3]

The result was such a surprise so as to cause the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust to commission a report to study the campaign.[4][5]


On 29 February 2012, the incumbent Member of Parliament for Bradford West, Marsha Singh, announced his intention to resign due to "serious illness."[6] His most recent contribution in the House of Commons came in October 2009.[7] As MPs cannot officially resign from the House of Commons, Singh was appointed to the role of Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, thus disqualifying him from the House.[8]

On 6 March 2012, a motion to issue the writ for the by-election was successfully moved by Shadow Chief Whip Rosie Winterton, setting polling day as 29 March.[9] Nominations closed at 4 pm on Wednesday 14 March.[10]


The Statement of Persons Nominated was released by the City of Bradford Council on 15 March.[11]

Former MP George Galloway confirmed on 6 March that he would stand on behalf of the Respect Party, and later that day UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage announced that their candidate was Sonja McNally, a former Green Party council candidate.[12][13] On 8 March, the Liberal Democrats chose Bradford City councillor Jeanette Sunderland to be their candidate, and the Conservatives chose businesswoman and former Rotherham 2010 general election candidate Jackie Whiteley.[14][15] Labour chose Imran Hussain, the Deputy Leader of Bradford City Council, to be its candidate on 11 March.[16]

On 9 March, the Green Party announced that their candidate would be Dawud Islam,[17] a former Labour councillor and former Green local election candidate.[18] The candidate for the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, Alan Hope, has contested seats on fourteen occasions, parliamentary elections and by-elections.[19] Hope used the ballot paper description "Monster Raving Loony William Hill Party" as part of a sponsorship deal. A meeting of the Democratic Nationalists held in Burnley confirmed that Neil Craig was standing for the party as he had done at the 2010 general election.[20]


Election Political result Candidate Party Votes % ±%
Bradford West by-election, 2012
Resignation of Marsha Singh
Turnout: 32,814 (50.8%) -14.1
Respect gain from Labour
Majority: 10,140 (30.9%)
Swing: 36.6[21]% from Lab to Respect
George GallowayRespect18,34155.9+52.8
Imran Hussain Labour8,20125.0-20.3
Jackie Whiteley Conservative2,7468.4-22.7
Jeanette Sunderland Liberal Democrat1,5054.6-7.1
Sonja McNally UKIP1,0853.3+1.3
Dawud Islam Green4811.5-0.8
Neil Craig Democratic Nationalists3441.0-0.1
Howling Laud Hope Monster Raving Loony1110.3N/A

Galloway's election as MP was the first occasion that the main opposition party has lost a seat in a by-election since the May 2000 Romsey by-election (when the Conservatives lost to the Liberal Democrats).[22] It was also among the largest swings against the incumbent party in the same time period.[23] Respect's increase in its share of the vote, 52.8%, was also among the largest in the history of mainland British parliamentary by-elections since the introduction of universal suffrage.


Hussain, the Labour candidate, declared that he would not attend any of the hustings with other candidates, concentrating instead on meeting the electorate. Several senior Labour politicians, including Ed Miliband, Dennis Skinner, Yvette Cooper and Ed Balls, visited the constituency to support his campaign.[24]

Galloway's campaign sought to capitalise on discontent with the local Labour party and tension in the Asian community. He criticised the claimed role of Baradari (brotherhood) an Urdu word denoting a hierarchical system of clan politics) in the area's local politics, particularly the local Labour party. He said that Baradari was responsible for "second- and third-rate politicians particularly but not exclusively from the Labour party being elected to the city council on the basis not of ability, not of ideas, not on records of experience but on whether their father came from the same village as someone else's father 50 or 60 years ago". Naweed Hussain, a campaign manager for the former Labour MP Singh over the previous three general elections, defected and became a campaign manager for Galloway, complaining that Labour had been "bypassing democracy" in the seat. Imran Hussain dismissed claims of Baradari.[24]

The Times correspondent Michael Savage noticed that Galloway referred "heavily to his quasi-Islamic values in his campaign literature. One leaflet[25] proclaimed that 'God KNOWS who is a Muslim and he KNOWS who is not. I, George Galloway, do not drink and never have."[26] Galloway initially said that the photocopied leaflet in question, which did not, as electoral law requires, include the Respect logo, agent's name or address, had not been produced by him. He did however make similar comments in his campaign rally, saying 'I’m a better Pakistani than he [Mr Hussain] will ever be. God knows who’s a Muslim and who is not. And a man that’s never out of the pub shouldn’t be going around telling people you should vote for him because he’s a Muslim.'[27] Galloway's election agent subsequently accepted that the leaflet had Galloway's approval.[28] Decca Aitkenhead, in a Guardian interview published near the end of April 2012, wrote: "Contrary to every report I've read, he doesn't deny writing the leaflet himself".[29] The Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK), which campaigned for Galloway, were involved in promoting the insinuations against Hussain over his reputed drinking of alcohol.[30]

In an article for The Times, the Labour MP Diane Abbott argued that the result was not one of "identity" politics: "If Muslim voters in Bradford West were going to back someone who shared their ethnic identity, they would have voted for the excellent Labour candidate, who happens to be a local Muslim councillor. Furthermore, George won heavily in every ward, including many that were not majority Muslims."[31]


Respect stood a total of 12 candidates in the May 2012 local elections in Bradford, although the party had said they would stand candidates in all 30 wards. Five Respect councillors were elected.

The Green by-election candidate Dawud Islam defected to Respect on 3 April 2012.[32]

Past result

Election Political result Candidate Party Votes % ±%
General election 2010 [33][34]
New boundaries
Turnout: 40,576 (64.9%) +8.9
Labour hold
Majority: 5,763 (14.2%)
Swing: 2.9% from Con to Lab
Marsha SinghLabour18,40145.3+5.6
Zahid Iqbal Conservative12,63831.1−0.2
David Hall-Matthews Liberal Democrat4,73211.7−7.4
Jenny Sampson BNP1,3703.4−3.5
Arshad Ali Respect1,2453.1+3.1
David Ford Green9402.3−0.7
Jason Smith UKIP8122.0+2.0
Neil Craig Democratic Nationalists4381.1+1.1

See also


  1. "Bookies lose out in Galloway rout". The Independent. 30 March 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  2. "Labour licks its wounds after 'Bradford spring'". The Guardian. 30 March 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  3. "This was Bradford's version of the riots". The Guardian. 30 March 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  4. Kayte Rath (28 January 2013). "George Galloway Bradford West victory a 'cry for help' from voters". BBC. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
  5. Lewis Baston (January 2013). The Bradford Earthquake (PDF) (Report). Democratic Audit. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
  6. Bradford West MP Marsha Singh to stand down BBC News 1 March 2012
  7. Appearance search results
  8. Three Hundreds of Chiltern – Press Release HM Treasury
  9. "Writ moved for the Bradford West by-election". 6 March 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
  10. "Bradford and Metropolitan District Council | Parliamentary By-Election – 29 March 2012". Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  11. Statement of Persons Nominated Bradford City Council
  12. Former MP George Galloway to stand in Bradford West BBC News
  13. Big Brother George in bid to be Bradford MP Yorkshire Post
  14. Jeanette Sunderland selected to fight Bradford West
  15. "The Conservative candidate for the Bradford West by-election is Jackie Whiteley Tory MPs". 8 March 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  16. Bradford West shortlist Labourlist
  17. "The Green Party candidate for Bradford West picked". BBC. 10 March 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  18. "Dawud Islam standing for Bradford West". Yorkshire and Humber Green Party. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
  19. Bradford West UK Polling
  20. "Nationalist Unity in Burnley : England First Party". Retrieved 2012-03-30.
  21. George Galloway wins Bradford West by-election, The Daily Telegraph
  22. "BBC News - George Galloway wins Bradford West by-election". Retrieved 2012-03-30.
  23. Andy McSmith "Andy McSmith's Diary: Respect MP George Galloway needs to work on his swing", The Independent, 26 March 2015
  24. 1 2 Bradford West byelection: George Galloway shakes up Labour relations, by Helen Pidd, The Guardian, 27 March 2012
  26. Michael Savage, Galloway bounces back with shock by-election win in safe Labour seat, pages 8-9, The Times, Saturday 30 March 2012
  27. "A runaway victory for George Galloway – and all praise to Allah". Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
  28. Pidd, Helen (22 November 2012). "Labour complains to police over leaflet's 'closet racists' claim". The Guardian.
  29. Aitkenhead, Decca (29 April 2016). "George Galloway: 'I believe that on judgment day, people have to answer for what they did'". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  30. Gilligan, Andrew (30 March 2012). "A runaway victory for George Galloway – and all praise to Allah – Telegraph". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  31. Diane Abbott, A doughty campaigner who can't be written off, page 9, The Times, Saturday 31 March 2012
  32. Dawud Islam Press Release, Facebook
  33. "Bradford West constituency: statement as to persons nominated and notice of poll" (PDF). Bradford City Council. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  34. "UK > England > Yorkshire & the Humber > Bradford West". Election 2010. BBC. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
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