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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There are two sides to the Muslim segregation story

White families must also be prepared to have Muslim neighbours. 

Dame Louise Casey finally published her review on social integration in Britain. Although it mentions all communities, there is a clear focus on Muslim communities. However, the issues she raises - religious conservatism, segregation in some areas and Muslim women experiencing inequalities -  are not new. In this case, they have been placed in one report and discussed in the context of hindering integration. If we are truly committed to addressing these issues, though, we have a duty of care to discuss the findings with nuance, not take them out of context, as some tabloids have already done.

The review, for example, highlights that in some areas Muslims make up 85 per cent of the local population. This should not be interpreted to mean that Muslims are choosing to isolate themselves and not integrate. For a start, the review makes it clear that there are also certain areas in Britain that are predominantly Sikh, Hindu or Jewish.

Secondly, when migrants arrive in the UK, it is not unreasonable for them to gravitate towards people from similar cultural and faith backgrounds.  Later, they may choose to remain in these same areas due to convenience, such as being able to buy their own food, accessing their place of worship or being near elderly relatives.

However, very little, if any, attention is given to the role played by white families in creating segregated communities. These families moved out of such areas after the arrival of ethnic minorities. This isn't necessarily due to racism, but because such families are able to afford to move up the housing ladder. And when they do move, perhaps they feel more comfortable living with people of a similar background to themselves. Again, this is understandable, but it highlights that segregation is a two-way street. Such a phenomenon cannot be prevented or reversed unless white families are also willing to have Muslim neighbours. Is the government also prepared to have these difficult conversations?

Casey also mentions inequalities that are holding some Muslim women back, inequalities driven by misogyny, cultural abuses, not being able to speak English and the high numbers of Muslim women who are economically inactive. It’s true that the English language is a strong enabler of integration. It can help women engage better with their children, have access to services and the jobs market, and be better informed about their rights.

Nevertheless, we should remember that first-generation Pakistani and Bangladeshi women, who could not speak English, have proved perfectly able to bring up children now employed in a vast range of professions including politics, medicine, and the law. The cultural abuses mentioned in the review such as forced marriage, honour-based violence and female genital mutilation, are already being tackled by government. It would be more valuable to see the government challenge the hate crimes and discrimination regularly faced by Muslim women when trying to access public services and the jobs market. 

The review recommends an "Oath of Integration with British Values and Society" for immigrants on arrival. This raises the perennial question of what "British Values" are. The Casey review uses the list from the government’s counter-extremism strategy. In reality, the vast majority of individuals, regardless of faith or ethnic background, would agree to sign up to them.  The key challenge for any integration strategy is to persuade all groups to practice these values every day, rather than just getting immigrants to read them out once. 

Shaista Gohir is the chair of Muslim Women's Network UK, and Sophie Garner is the general secretary and a barrister.