Galloway stuns Labour in Bradford West

Respect candidate wins Bradford byelection with a majority of 10,140.

He called it "the most sensational victory in British political history" and few will argue with that this morning. Until a few days before the Bradford West byelection, when Ladbrokes suspended bets on his candidacy, almost no one had spoken of the possibility of a George Galloway victory. Today he stands as the constituency's new MP with a majority of 10,140 [a 37 per cent swing away from Labour].

Unlike his famous victory in Bethnal Green and Bow in 2005, attributable to anti-war sentiment, there was no obvious trigger for a Galloway win. But his demand for an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan and his calculated appeal to the seat's Muslim voters [in a letter to "voters of Muslim faith and Pakistani heritage" he wrote: "I, George Galloway, do not drink alcohol and never have. Ask yourself if you believe the other candidate in this election can say that truthfully."] allowed him to take votes from all three of the main parties. The Tories, who might have expected to benefit from a split in the left vote, saw their share of the vote plummet by 22.78 per cent to 8.37 per cent.

But it is the scale of Labour's defeat, in a week when the party is leading by 10 per cent nationally, that is truly remarkable. Ed Miliband's unbroken run of byelection victories [five in total] has come to an end in the most dramatic fashion. What began as a disastrous week for David Cameron has ended as one for the Labour leader.

Was this a one-off or does it represent a new far-left threat to Labour? The former is the answer. In British politics, Galloway, a formidable campaigner, orator and political pugilist [as well as a supporter of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Bashar al-Assad], is a unique figure. Respect, the party which he founded and will represent in Parliament, has neither the financial nor the organisational capacity to mount a national challenge to Labour. Yet Galloway's victory marks the start of a dangerous period for Miliband's party. If, as the polls currently suggest, Ken Livingstone loses the London mayoral election and the Scottish National Party wins Glasgow City Council then May could prove a month of defeat for Labour.

We'll have more analysis and comment on The Staggers shortly but for now here's that stunning result in full.

George Galloway (Respect) 18,341 (55.89%, +52.83%)

Imran Hussain (Labour) 8,201 (24.99%, -20.36%)

Jackie Whiteley (Conservative) 2,746 (8.37%, -22.78%)

Jeanette Sunderland (Liberal Democrat) 1,505 (4.59%, -7.08%)

Sonja McNally (UKIP) 1,085 (3.31%, +1.31%)

Dawud Islam (Green) 481 (1.47%, -0.85%)

Neil Craig (Democratic Nationalists) 344 (1.05%)

Howling Laud Hope (Monster Raving Loony Party) 111 (0.34%)

Turnout: 50.78%.

Respect MP George Galloway won the seat with a 36.59 per cent swing away from Labour. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Diane Abbott tweeting the fake lesbian quote won’t detract from Theresa May’s gay rights record

The shadow home secretary tweeted a quote about lesbians which can’t be traced to the Prime Minister.

Diane Abbott has deleted her tweet of a quote that’s been whizzing around Twitter, supposedly attributed to Theresa May.

The meme suggests that the Prime Minister, when a councillor in Merton and Wimbledon in the Eighties, once said: “Curbing the promotion of lesbianism in Merton’s schools starts with girls having male role models in their lives.”


Twitter screengrab

But there is no evidence available to prove that May ever said this. The quotation was investigated by Gay Star News and BuzzFeed when it started being shared ahead of the election. Just like Dan Hannan's pictures from his country walk and erm, pretty much every pro-Leave politician suggesting the NHS would get £350m extra a week after Brexit, Abbott’s tweet was a bad idea. It’s good she deleted it.

However, this doesn’t take away from Theresa May’s poor track record on gay rights, which has been collated by PinkNews and others:

1998: She voted against reducing the age of consent for gay sex.

1999: She voted against equalising the age of consent, again.

2000: She voted against repealing Section 28, and Vice has uncovered an interview she did in her forties with a student paper when she said “most parents want the comfort of knowing Section 28 is there”, referring to the legislation stopping “the promotion of homosexuality in schools”.

2000: She did not show up to another vote on making the age of consent for gay people equal to the one for straight people.

2001: She voted against same-sex adoption.

2002: She voted against same-sex adoption, again.

2003: She did not vote on repealing Section 28.

2004: She missed all four votes on the gender recognition bill. (But she did vote in favour of civil partnerships this year).

2007: She missed a vote on protecting gay people from discrimination (the part of the Equality Act that would prevent b&bs and wedding cake makers discriminating against gay people, for example).

2008: She opposed IVF for same-sex couples, voting in favour of a child needing a “father and mother” before allowing a woman to have IVF treatment.

Since then, May has softened her stance on gay rights, apologised for her past voting record, and voted in favour of same-sex marriage. “I have changed my view. If those votes were taken today, I would take a different vote,” she said.

But your mole can think of at least one politician who’s always been on the right side of history regarding gay rights. Diane Abbott.

I'm a mole, innit.