The great walrus of Bradford politics has finally been given the boot.
George Galloway’s Bradford Spring swung, hit, and knocked off the head of Bradford’s Labour party, Ian Greenwood, who’d held his post for over 17 years.
But as Greenwood bowed out he suggested that Galloway would leave “a generation of disenfranchised and alienated young people”. Well, sorry Ian, but that’s your legacy. Yours and the whole sordid bunch of villains at Bradford Council who have run the once grand city into the ground over the course of the last 20 years or more.
The giant hole that has sat idle for a decade, filling with water and despair. The city lake that turned into a £23 million pound puddle. The derelict, iconic landmark that’s now in a worse state than the war left the Reichstag. Massive unemployment, empty shops, and a Saturday night ghost town. These problems have all left more than a generation of disaffected young people, and created, and continue to create, Bradford refugees, of which I count myself one, who flee to London, Leeds, Manchester, and all over the world.
But it’s not just Ian Greenwood who’s to blame. Sure he was in the Council for over 17 years, but figures such as Baroness Eaton and Kris Hopkins were in power for long periods as well. The Council was, and still is, nothing more than old boys club which has never been held to account by Bradford’s rag Telegraph & Argus, or Pravda to give it its more appropriate name.
It wasn’t until George Galloway came onto the scene in the Bradford West by-election that there started to be a truly vocal criticism of the Council. Political commentators up and down the country scoffed at him. “He’s just pandering to the Muslim vote,” accused one detractor, saying that his opposition to the war in Afghanistan and to the tuition fee hike was nothing more than pandering to the electorate. Funny idea that, standing for issues that the electorate care about. Campaigning on the issues that those you are going to represent care about is one of the cornerstones of democracy, unless I’ve completely misunderstood the concept and you and you opponents are just supposed agree with whatever is currently the view in Westminster and people will just have to like it or lump it.
Certainly this has been the case in Bradford for some time. The council has stood idly by for some time now, with its hands in the air seeming to say ‘there’s nothing we can do’. From the Westfield site that has sat idle for over a decade to the seemingly endless exodus of shops from the city centre, council and opposition alike seem to have shrugged their shoulders echoing the words of Bruce Hornsby: ‘that’s just the way it is, and some things will never change’.
But when Galloway came flying into the city like a man possessed. It seemed to be the first time that someone came in and said: ‘this isn’t good enough! Something must be done!’ The people listened, and the people voted. At last here was somebody with some passion, some charism, someone who was willing to fight! Fight for the city, fight for the attention of voters and not merely take them for granted. And now, with the head of the council removed from its flabby, bloated, decrepit body, perhaps the rest of it will die as well, and usher in a new generation of officials who are willing to listen to the people and fight for them.