Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Friday, 30 March 2012

Labour have to do much better than blaming Celebrity Big Brother #BradfordWest

Following George Galloway's historic win in the Bradford West by-election yesterday taking 56% of the vote with a 10,000 majority on a pretty high (for a by-election) turnout of 50% Labour still seem stunned.

Labour MP Toby Perkins has had a crack at trying to find something else to blame:

"I think frankly there wasn't a lot the other parties could do about it. They'd seen him on (Celebrity) Big Brother.They wanted him on their streets and now they've got it..."

This is frankly risible. Not just because of how pathetic it seems to be trying to blame a TV show (where Galloway actually made an utter tit of himself).

Even mathematically this makes no sense. CBB typically gets between 3 and 5 million viewers. If we are generous and take the larger figure that means we are talking about roughly 8% of the population who even saw Galloway on the show. The turnout yesterday was 32,000. So we are talking about less than 3,000 voters Bradford West proportionally. And that also presupposes that Galloway's preening around the house and cat based antics made all of those 3,000 people desperate to vote for him (which seems unlikely). If they could even remember he was on the show 6 years ago. That in no way explains a majority of 10,000.

Perkins's claim about how there not being a lot the other parties could have done about it seems strange too considering the Labour candidate didn't even turn up to a hustings event. I would suggest the very least the "other parties could do about it" is turn up and debate rather than leave the floor to Galloway. That smacks of dangerous complacency.

Perhaps the Labour Party's post-mortem should focus on those aspects rather than bluster about a reality TV show.


martijn said...

I'm not sure if you're applying the maths correctly. I assume there aren't always the same 3-5 people who watch CBB. People may have seen one or two episodes, YouTube clips or may have simply heard their friends talk about.

Galloway is a big name. Bigger than any of the other candidates - even, presumably, to people in Bradford. That probably have helped him get votes, perhaps it may even have won him the seat. Still, even if it's true, it is rather stupid to say you couldn't do a lot about it. It was the other candidates' job to do something about it.

Mark Thompson said...

@Martijn: Whilst you make some fair points I was already being pretty generous in my interpretation of the figures which would go a long way to cancelling out the effects you mentioned.

It simply isn't credible that a bit of embarrassing prancing around on a reality TV show from 6+ years ago could have such a massive effect in a by-election.

And frankly if it did we have way bigger problems in this country than one election result!

Anonymous said...

The Labour guy phrased it badly, but if RESPECT had run someone other than George Galloway, run a candidate who wasn't a TV celebrity, do you think they'd have won a 10,000 majority? Do you think they'd have won?

martijn said...

"It simply isn't credible that a bit of embarrassing prancing around on a reality TV show from 6+ years ago could have such a massive effect in a by-election."

No, it wasn't just that of course. Galloway is one of the few celebrity politicians - the reason he was asked to appear on CBB in the first place. That must have helped. I don't know enough about the Bradford West electorate to judge whether another RESPECT candidate would have won.