George Galloway’s victory in Bradford West is a major political upset. In the 2010 General Election, Galloway’s party Respect received 1,245 votes (3.1% of the total cast). In 2012 Respect received 18,341 votes (55.9% of the total).
Respect won over many Labour voters but the collapse of the other major parties was, if anything, even more dramatic. The Conservatives went from 12,638 in 2010 to 2,746 in 2012, the Liberal Democrats from 4,732 to 1,505.
If this was a protest, it was a protest against the entire political establishment, rather than against the governing Coalition.
In this it has something in common with the occupations and assemblies of last year. All over the country people met and started to work out a response to the financial and economic crisis in ways that rejected the mainstream political consensus. It is time now to turn that energy towards the governing institutions.We need a new political common sense, and it is up to us to create it.
Assembly and deliberation, focused on electoral politics, are how we make our elected representatives act in our interests.
If they refuse to do so, then the Bradford West result shows that we can replace them.
In the current environment there are no safe seats in the country. Respect’s victory teaches us that it is possible to change voting behaviour radically, if we organize and develop a coherent platform that appeals to people’s interests.
We have until the next election to turn every constituency in the country into an assembly. That is the lesson of Bradford West.
If you are interested in turning the occupation and assemblies movement into an instrument for transforming national politics, you might like to read Common Sense: Occupation, Assembly, and the Future of Liberty. It’s only available on Kindle at the moment.