Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

A call-to-arms

Sometimes the urgent need for an organisational call-to-arms takes over this column because there is something that needs to be done, rather than debated.

One such case is tomorrow, Thursday 29 March: the Bradford West parliamentary by-election.

George Galloway of the Respect party thinks he has a chance of beating Labour’s excellent local candidate Imran Hussain.

On Twitter Galloway has said:

‘Ladbrokes have suspended betting on the Bradford West by-election because of the numbers backing me. Others hv slashed odds massively.’

You can get a flavour of his campaign from this Guardian report:

As Mr Galloway is notoriously litigious I am not going to run a detailed critique of him here, but merely to state that I do not agree with his views on a series of major issues, I find the rhetoric he used to attack the last Labour government and Tony Blair repugnant and divisive. Bradford West could do with an MP with a better voting record than Mr Galloway managed when he represented Bethnal Green and Bow (he only participated in 8.4 per cent of Commons votes in 2009).

I will be going to Bradford tomorrow to help stop this man getting back into the House of Commons.

I hope Progress readers will join me there.

Campaign HQ Details are:

Address: Bradford Labour party, 29 Cheapside, Bradford, BD1 4HR (opposite the Midland Hotel which is next to Bradford Forster Square Train Station)

Opening hours: 0900 – 1900 (7 Days a week) – until 2200 on polling day

Telephone Number: 07872 417220




Luke Akehurst is a constituency representative on Labour’s NEC, a councillor in Hackney, writes regularly for Progress here and blogs here


Photo: Jason Feather

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Luke Akehurst

is director of We Believe in Israel and a former member of Labour's National Executive Committee


  • the tanker drivers are naughty/very naughty men/they don’t do what they’re s’posed to do/then they don’t do it again/The Agency that sent them/skimmed HOW MUCH ! off the top/they did that twice or three times even/before the unions took the mop/this spill can’t be happening/ Health and Safety matters/Pensions too for all our blokes/just can’t be left in tatters.

  • Luke, The content of the rant that George Galloway had towards Tony Blair was correct. However the manner in which he did it was incorrect

  • O dear! So much for your support! Every decent person will be aghast at the scale of Galloway’s victory and wonder how Labour (as the sitting tenent) could have mis-read the mood of constituents and mis-managed the threat. This debacle is similar to his victory in Bethnal Green and Bow over Oona King (another strongly Muslim constituency). At that time I thought his win was primarily the consequence of Oona’s ineffective campaign. Is this true of the Bradford West Labour candidate?
    If the real reason for Galloway’s successes is the Muslim vote then UK politics is in a very dangerous place. The fact that so many (young?) Muslims could be so easily persuaded by this bigot bodes ill for rationality and maturity. Bethnal Green and Bow should have been a wake-up call for Labour activists to reach out and educate these mis-guided Muslims.

  • A crass comment typical of the ignorant voices on the ME. Galloway’s rants are pure vitriol and a total misrepresentation of the truth. Being impolite in expressing them is irrelevent. You need to remove your ‘spectacles of ignorance and bigotry’ and start looking at present and past events in the ME with an open mind – otherwise you will turn into a bitter and twisted version of Galloway. For someone to have mass murderers like Saddam Hussein and Che Guevara as heroes suggests a twisted morality. Galloway’s opinions are more in tune with ME dictators and Islamic extremists than democratic freedoms. Which country would you prefer to live in – the USA or Syria/Iran/Iraq/Afghanistan/Sudan etc?

  • Luke Two Lessons.
    1. Never pre – empt fate, George Galloway not only thinks he can win it he has
    2. Progress readers or rather progress article writers are Blairite. New Labour is dead.
    It is clear that Liam Byrne is jumping ship because Blairite influence in now defunct. The rest jump ship when the opportunity arises. Luke you have too much time on your hands writing articles that are way off the mark

  • Playing to an audience is not the same as playing in the field. Tony Blair produced a monster in Aghanistan, produced a minefield in Afghanistan and created a disillusioned and bitter George Galloway by alienating him. I believe Tony Blair has created many of the problems we now face

    Tony says “Diversity and choice produces exellence”

    Diversity is Bradford, They chose and now the Labour Party and communities are fragmented

    Politique says ” Diversity and Choice does not produce excellence it produces fragmantation, alienation, frustration, inequality, competion and failure.


  • Why, Politique, are you allowing your obviously irrational opinions and animosity towards Tony Blair cloud the truth? George Galloway was ‘bitter and twisted’ in his views before Iraq – the two ‘wars’ just gave him the platform for notoriety. Likewise, the dangers both internally and externally in Iraq and Afghanistan existed before 1997. The questions one should now be asking are “are Iraq and Afghanistan in a better place (i.e. democratic and civilised) today?” and “are they still a threat to the security of other nations?”. I believe that the answer to both questions is “yes”, notably because of the only option (unfortunately) available – military intervention. Going to war is always an acceptance of failure but when nations are threatened by dictators and extremist groups who will sacrifice life purely for despotic control over populations then we are forced to defend our society by whatever legal and effective means. No doubt (as an admirer of Galloway) you believe our actions in Iraq were illegal. I disagree. The question of the effectiveness of our interventions is more problematic since progress in both countries has still to reach satisfactory levels. I believe that the ‘Arab Spring’ and the general democratization in the ME is a direct consequence of our actions in Iraq. It is of utmost sadness that lives have to be lost (as also in Libya and Syria and, on this 30th anniversary, the Falklands).

  • Mickelmas, What the Labour Party need are more characters like George Galloway. If I remember right George Galloway, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair were very friendly of sorts in the earlier days. There would have been a very reasoned argument for the Iraq War if Blair had full weight from the United Nations. However that was not to be. It is true that Blair was a poodle of George Bush. Every body recognises that. I have never met George Galloway. It would be wrong to characterise on the back of others. I would agree he speaks out regular and all what he imparts is not always entirely correct. He stood by his principle on critiquing Blairite New Labour Third Way codswallop. When Blair took Britain into Iraq he wasn’t thinking about making Iraq a better place, he was thinking where the next barrel of oil would come from for his peerage buddies and British conglomorates.
    Blair has destroyed the fabrication of a very own society so he decided to move east and destroy their civilisation. Communitarianism never really hit off in Britain. He championed diversity and caused a more unfair, fragmented, disjointed society to occur.

    Most people who make irrational comments have served for queen and country? Have you Mickelmas. Incidently Blair never did serve in the armed forces, neither did Brown or Miliband, Major or Thatcher. A picture is developing here. We have more military interventions since that last Prime Minister who served in the forces, Jim Callaghan in 1979, than before.


    How many serving Labour MPs have served queen and country Mickelmas. Answers on a postage stamp, please.

    I think Blair would be very proud of the Arab spring, particularly as he spent his whole political career trying to understand Isaiah Berlin and negative liberty, but never quite managed it….or is it Liberalism The End of History.

    Then came the Arab spring

  • Your catalogue of media cliches (‘poodle Blair’, ‘Blair only interested in Iraq oil’, ‘no UN mandate’ etc.) are all wrong and are only fit for the bin – and even the Mail wouldn’t go as far as “Blair has destroyed the fabric of our country”!
    You may admire George Galloway but I think you are making a grave error by assuming he has principles. George is an empty vessel with only thoughts for his own aggrandizement. So ‘keen’ was he to represent the people in Bethnal Green and Bow who voted him in 2005 that he was practically never in the House of Commons Chamber in 5 years! It is the easiest thing in the world of politics to jump on the “ant-war” bandwagon and be guaranteed popular support (particularly from the gullible and shallow of thought). Who, after all, would be happy to send our military into harms way: not ANY British PM and not ANY US President.
    As for your criticisms about present day politicians (particularly Labour ones) who have never served in the armed forces and, by implication, have no right to send soldiers into war – apart from the fact that their are a number of MPs of all parties that have served Queen and Country – you have to go back to both World Wars where enormous numbers of military inevitably statistically implied that many of those that survived would enter parliament and other professions. Post WWII conflicts have thankfully been on much smaller scales hence smaller numbers entering all professions.
    I salute you, Politique, if you have served in our armed forces. I have complete respect for their guts, bravery, loyalty to fellow comrades and to the defence of our country. Their courage and determination fills me with total admiration.
    You find it easy to blame Tony Blair for the deaths of our troops and foreign non-combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan (and probably all the other military interventions he ordered – like Kosovo) but do you also condemn Thatcher for the Falklands and Northern Ireland, Eden for Suez and Palestine, Churchill for WWI and WWII?

  • Thank you for your kind comments.
    The conflictsbattles and wars you refer to were in the main invasions by other nations onto sovereign soil. The 1991 Gulf War was justified because of an invasion. WWI, WWII, Falklands, 1991 Gulf War, Suez, Palestine, with the exception of Northern Ireland were all invasions of sorts. So I dont blame the PMs at that time.

    Afghanistan and Iraq were rightly or wrongly were invaded…by Blair and not by sovereign nations. There is a big difference.
    With regards Galloway I never said I liked him or agree with everything he does…but there does need to be more than a one sided argument.

    Blair is now £30,000,000 richer. For the few and not the many….the wealthy rich says Ed

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