Watching the twitter feed from the Bradford West count at midnight yesterday was a tad surreal. Not only did it look as if George Galloway had done well, it looked as if he was going to win the seat with a massive majority. And then, he did.
I don’t know what campaigning tactics were being used by any party in Bradford West, but by all accounts it seems that Galloway’s win comes down to his calling for our troops to withdraw from Afghanistan now, not in 2014, and a vague sectarian sensation tied in to his abstaining from alcohol.
Then it turns out last time he was an MP he turned up to Westminster less than 8% of the time.
And in any case, whilst a FPTP win like this is extraordinary, he will have a hard time actually changing policy to reflect the views he has promised the voters of Bradford West he supports.
So, being a wee political observer geek type I then start to wonder: Well what does this say about politics today? Anything? Everything? Nothing?
Because there was an over 50% turnout in this by-election. And all parties (except UKIP) saw their percentage fall. In the case of Labour and the Conservatives, dramatically so. Which means a large number of people made a concerted effort to tell both the party of Government and the party of Opposition that they are not happy with their activities.
Here in Scotland of course, we have a third option. And in 2010 people used that 3rd option, in droves. Hence the un-predicted SNP majority Government.
So I guess what I think, on reflection, is that people will vote for a 3rd option when they think it will deliver – and clearly Galloway managed to persuade voters in Bradford West that he could win. Which then makes me wonder, how much more interesting would politics be if it was less about safe seats and having to overturn large majorities, and more about actually representing voters thoughts and opinions. And wouldn’t then the larger parties be more accountable to the public, because we would actually have a 3rd option (and a 4th, 5th and 6th option).
The Galloway win, in my mind, is another warning sign that two party politics in the UK is just not working. There are too many similarities between all the parties as they fight for the middle ground and neglect the fringes. And then the fringes feel neglected, and they stop participating. Let’s mix it up a bit no? Imagine, politics might actually be fun, and interesting, and exciting. Or we could just keep on with pasties, petrol and twitter fails… Which reminds me, what happened about that cash for access scandal?