As a preface I’d like to express my personal opinion about George Galloway, to prevent people from thinking that my views here are some kind of biased pro-Galloway rant. On 29 March 2012 George Galloway (in his own words) recorded “the most sensational lead to British by-election history, bar none”.
He overturned an enormous Labour majority in a “safe chair” (politics stronghold) they had maintained since 1973, whilst representing a “minor” party without any sitting MPs. On this landslide victory he polled that largest post battle percentage of the by-election vote and the second largest swing (52.8%) in by-election background.
Aside from the amazing statistics, the intensity of the surprise was magnified by the fact that the Bradford West by-election advertising campaign was hardly even covered by the mainstream London based press. Only The Guardian even bothered to send a reporter up to Bradford to protect it. When the news headlines of Galloway’s victory broke in the early hours of the following morning the mainstream press commentariat and the political establishment were utterly taken by shock.
I spent the next few days checking what the mainstream press and the below-the-line responses had to say, to be able to measure the press and public a reaction to Galloway’s amazingly comprehensive victory. It really is understandable that in the wake of unexpected happenings, reactionary views become common, since the mainstream media is not able to mentor the general public in the political nuances of the subject.
The most commonly occurring of these ignorant reactionary views appeared to be that “Galloway experienced received by pandering to the Muslim vote”. George Galloway celebrating his remarkable triumph in Bradford West. This unwillingness to accept the facts either demonstrates ignorance (which is nearly acceptable in the immediate aftermath of an unexpected event) or a deliberate evasion of reality.
The proven fact that Galloway was “courting Muslim voters” can barely be considered as a stand-alone criticism, after all, in Britain, female vote matters exactly the same as a non-Muslim vote. Anyone wanting to win election in a constituency containing many Muslims would either be a fool or a racist not to attempt to engage with the Muslim community. This is precisely the reason that staff of most three mainstream politics parties have paid their respects at local mosques, visited Muslim businesses, canvassed Muslim neighbourhoods and fielded Muslim candidates (such as Galloway’s Bradford West challenger Imran Hussain).
One of the recurring styles of the “Muslim pandering” smear advertising campaign has been the repetition of the fact that Galloway openly stated his abstention from alcohol and then praised Allah after his victory. I lived in West Yorkshire for quite some time, just off Stanningley Road between Leeds and Bradford. I met many people there and believe that I have a good understanding of the area and its own various communities.
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I spoke with a great number of West Yorkshire’s Muslims and found the huge bulk to be genuine, respectful, hard-working family orientated people, who had been mainly preoccupied with providing the best for their households. When talking with people, I love to offer my respect and my honest opinion, I rarely met female who wouldn’t reciprocate to generate an atmosphere of mutual respect.
Through work I also fulfilled a number of West Yorkshire’s far-right, BNP voting reactionaries, people completely incapable of understanding the concept of mutual respect. I often interrupted their ignorant, hate filled rants to demolish their arguments and expose the lies and distortions that they were content to trust and broadcast endlessly.