Why Labour lost – A view from Bradford
The Labour defeat at the Bradford West by-election on Thursday has come as a shock to the Labour leadership. Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of Labour, speaking on the Today programme labelled the result a “real last-minute phenomenon” but that is far from the truth.
The seeds of dissent where growing for years and the dissatisfaction of the local people was evident even from recent comments posted on many of the articles leading up to the by-election. They wanted change, they wanted a future and they wanted to be heard. Labour had taken Bradford West for granted. The ease in which they had won the last three elections meant that in their minds they were invincible and unbeatable. They had forgotten about the needs of the voters and the distrust felt towards the local Labour leaders who, by all accounts, had disconnected from the local people and local problems. Labour was by name alone and the people of Bradford West had had enough and I don’t blame them.
The lack of employment opportunities, the failure to secure investment and the inability to tackle the continual negative stereotypes were damaging the lives of many. Bradford had become a society within a society, closed off from the rest of Britain, dysfunctional and struggling to survive. To Labour, this insular society was championed as a success, but if you compare Bradford to cities such as Leicester, which embraces diversity and is recognised even by the Queen for its achievements as a multi-cultural hub of Britain, it is difficult to see why Labour had come to such a conclusion.
They don’t seem to share this view now though, and have turned to point their fingers directly at the people of Bradford themselves. Harriet Harman also adds that there is now “a particular problem in Bradford” and Ed Miliband is also reported to have said that he will be visiting the constituency in the coming weeks to “talk to people there about why this result happened”. It is staggering to hear that the Labour party can not recognise that they are the particular problem in Bradford and should be looking to address their own flaws before pointing their fingers at others. Labour’s failure to engage and connect with the local community has seriously damaged their relationship and as a result the people of Bradford West lost their faith in Labour’s politics as being a solution to their problems. They needed a change in leadership, in direction and in their future and that is why they voted against Labour.
The elitist political model that Labour has now become does not serve communities such as Bradford West well and if Labour can not embrace its traditional grass roots in such communities then it will find it hard to win back support of its one time stronghold. If Bradford West is to be reclaimed then Labour must change, the local people must be valued and for once their futures taken seriously. This blip can be overcome by the right candidate and with Labour’s commitment to deliver what it promises. Labour is the only party for the people of Bradford West. Their voices have now been heard loud and clear and a message has been sent that they will not be ignored. It is now time for Labour to sit down and listen and change for the future.
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