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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Leave campaigners are doing down Britain's influence in Europe

As the third biggest country, Britain has huge clout in the EU.

Last week the Leave campaign's Priti Patel took to the airwaves to bang on about the perils of EU regulation, claiming it is doing untold damage to small businesses in the UK. Let's put aside for one minute the fact that eight in ten small firms actually want to stay in the EU because of the huge benefits it brings in terms of trade and investment. Or the fact that the EU has cut red tape by around a quarter in recent years and is committed to doing more. Because the really startling thing Patel said was that these rules come to us "without the British government having a say." That might be forgivable coming from an obscure backbencher or UKIP activist. But as a government minister, Priti Patel knows full well that the UK has a major influence over all EU legislation. Indeed, she sits round the table when EU laws are being agreed.

Don't take it from me, take it from Patel herself. Last August, in an official letter to the House of Lords on upcoming EU employment legislation, the minister boasted she had "worked closely with MEPs to influence the proposal and successfully protected and advanced our interests." And just a few months ago in February she told MPs that the government is engaging in EU negotiations "to ensure that the proposals reflect UK priorities." So either she's been duping the Parliament by exaggerating how much influence she has in Brussels. Or, as is perhaps more likely, she's trying to pull the wool over the British people's eyes and perpetuate a favourite myth of the eurosceptics: that the UK has no say over EU rules.

As the third biggest country, Britain has huge clout in Europe. We have the most votes in the EU Council alongside France, Germany and Italy, where we are on the winning side 87 per cent of the time. The UK also has a tenth of all MEPs and the chairs of three influential European Parliament committees (although admittedly UKIP and Tory sceptics do their best to turn their belief the UK has no influence in Europe into a self-fulfilling prophecy). UKIP MEPs aside, the Brits are widely respected by European counterparts for their common sense and expertise in areas like diplomacy, finance and defence. And to the horror of the French, it is English that has become the accepted lingua franca in the corridors of power in Brussels.

So it's no surprise that the UK has been the driving force behind some of the biggest developments in Europe in recent decades, including the creation of the single market and the enlargement of the EU to Eastern Europe. The UK has also led the way on scrapping mobile roaming charges from next year, and is now setting the agenda on EU proposals that will make it easier to trade online and to access online streaming services like BBC iPlayer or Netflix when travelling abroad. The irony is that the Europe of today which Eurosceptics love to hate is very much a British creation.

The Leave campaign like to deride anyone who warns of the risks of leaving the EU as "talking down Britain." But by denying the obvious, that the UK has a major role in shaping EU decisions, they are the ones guilty of doing our country down. It's time we stood up to their defeatist narrative and made the case for Britain's role in Europe. I am a proud patriot who wants the best for my country, and that is why like many I will be passionately making the case to remain in the EU. Now is not the time to leave, it's time to lead.