An unedifying week in politics keeps on getting worse. The Tories have
this morning sent out a press release headlined ‘Warsi: If Labour can’t win in Bradford, how can they win a general election?’ The full quotation follows further on:
‘If Labour can’t win one of their safe seats in these tough economic times and in a tough week for the Government, how can they win anywhere?
Not in half a century has an opposition come back from such an appalling result to win a majority at the next general election.
This tells you everything you need to know about Ed Miliband’s weak leadership.’
It’s characteristic of much of the Tory reaction to George Galloway’s victory in Bradford West. Almost every blue-rosetted person that I’ve spoken to this morning has expressed a weird
sort of delight at the result. For them, it’s purely good news that Miliband has been foiled at the ballot box — and even better that it relieves some of the pressure on the government.
Perhaps we should be used to the complacencies of politics, but that doesn’t make them forgivable. What Warsi’s statement neglects to mention is that the Tories lost almost 10,000 votes from their
general election total. Their share went down from 31.1 per cent to 8.4 per cent, pushing them down into third place in the process. This was hardly a result that should have the chairman crowing
about majorities at the next general election. Neither was the last general election, come to think of it.
The Tories will no doubt point to various mitigating factors: that they haven’t won in Bradford West since 1970, and had little chance now; that some Tory voters might have voted tactically for
Galloway; that they are in a government implementing spending cuts and tax hikes, and so on. But none of that helps the party deal with their persistent inability to gain seats in the North. Neil
O’Brien has some ideas in today’s Telegraph for how
that might be rectified. Warsi would do better to read his article than gloat about another resounding rejection of the Tories in Bradford.