On Thursday, George Galloway revealed the cheerless landscape that is British politics.
Voters became restless with mainstream politics and put their votes elsewhere.
Critics have attempted to downplay the victory, highlighting the large Asian population within Bradford West, and linking it with Galloway’s views on the Iraq war and his calls for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. It would be senseless to deny that this has gained him crucial votes, but standing 10,000 votes above Labour’s Imran Hussain suggests that perhaps there is a little more at play here.
Under the surface, out in the homes of families across Britain, a fundamental shift in how voters view politics is taking place. It is a subtle shift brought about by a new sense of empowerment and entitlement which no mainstream party should ignore. People are feeling disenfranchised; they realise that at the last general election, they gave their vote to parties which no longer reflect the values they hold and thought those parties represented.
None of the main parties now represent the views of their core vote. All three parties have abandoned their essential political ideologies and camped on the amorphous, meaningless middle ground which they think represents middle Britain. It doesn’t. Not in a recession, not when society is in freefall. Not when world security is unstable. Not when we are at war, not when people are losing their jobs and homes and the fastest growing arm of the voluntary sector is food banks. Not when people feel vulnerable and look to Westminster for security.
Traditional Labour voters blame the bankers for the financial mess the country is in rather than the policies of their own former government; however, they are completely disillusioned with the weak Labour leadership. They are suspicious of a leader who they see as having "stabbed his brother in the back". How can people put their faith and trust in a man who can’t be trusted by his own family? They are repelled by the cosy relationship between Labour and the unions and their disillusionment is as directed towards the unions as much as it is towards Labour, evidenced by the diminishing number of union members. However, the anger Labour voters feel is as nothing to that of many core Conservative voters.
This week I attended a meeting with a group of young, politically-motivated Christians. They were doctors, lawyers, teachers, a prison governor, students. A cross section of well-educated and thoughtful people who represent many of the views of most Britons. They wanted to know, where has the Conservative party gone? Is it ever going to come back? Uncomfortable questions for a Conservative MP. What followed next, however, was chilling. Each person was already looking at marginal seats where they could challenge the sitting MP and harness the power of the Christian communities and churches across the constituencies they have targeted.
They cited the successful church campaign against Dr Evan Harris, which has given many Christians the confidence they need to know they can do it if they really want. A recent ComRes poll reported that 57% of Christians are ready to abandon the Conservative Party over the issue of gay marriage alone. Actually, 70% of the total population don’t want it either and yet, the Conservative Party felt this was a good policy to push in order to keep us in power. A policy completely out of step with the belief of the majority of the British public and many members of the gay community, but certainly one relentlessly pursued by the left-wing political gay lobby.
Even Labour in thirteen years wouldn’t go near that policy aware of the anger it would cause in Catholic cities such as Glasgow and Liverpool. And if anyone reading this thinks that the general public aren’t Christians and therefore such candidates don’t stand a chance in hell; as I have noted before, 70% of people describe themselves as Christian in the census and parents are clamouring to get their children into faith schools. The majority of Britons may not be active Christians, but they live their life in step with core Christian values and beliefs. It is God they turn to in moments of crisis, pain, death, panic, and, maybe in the future, political instability.
Recently, it was reported that a new breed of retired doctors across the UK are going to take on fifty sitting MPs in marginal seats where the NHS is a strong local issue. It is a strong issue in every constituency in the country. The fact is that many people now look at the Conservative party and are reeling with the realisation that this modern party is one they don’t know, didn’t vote for and no longer represents their views. They don’t recognise the values, are confused by the policies and repelled by the elitism. The Conservative Party appears to have abandoned large swathes of ordinary people, including the whole of the North of England, despite the valiant efforts of Eric Pickles.
Yesterday, in the Daily Telegraph, Charles Moore wrote a scathing article in which he asked the question of the Tory party leadership, "who on earth do you think you are?" Charles Moore is a gentleman, an Eton-educated good friend of policy guru Oliver Letwin, both of whom must be furious at the bad name Osborne and Cameron are giving to good public schools everywhere.
At the root of much of the catastrophe we have become is George Osborne. He drives the liberal elite agenda. He is the man who splits the party Chairmanship to prevent other Ministers gaining prominence because, somewhere, in his secret moments, he believes that one day he will be leader. He is the man who hubris has infected far quicker than it did Gordon Brown. The man who has No 10 and David Cameron manipulated around his little finger.
The recent appalling plan to create a panic situation in order to defeat a union-motivated tanker driver strike was school boy politics at best and I have no doubt, inspired by Osborne, who regards the Conservative Party as his very own. For many years the British public have been fast asleep. Initially sent off with a lullaby believing things could only get better. During the 2010 general election, they moved their vote away from Labour. They were unhappy. Times were bad. That vote was moved to a political party they thought had a core value which in these darker days they could trust.
2010 was not the time for a financially and socially inept party such as Labour. They switched off the alarm and rolled over for five more minutes.
They have now woken up. Political parties are in trouble and the problem is no one has a clue what to do about it.