Wednesday, April 4, 2012

George Galloway and Jean-Luc Mélenchon expose a huge political gap

The rise of France's 'third man' and Bradford's by-election both show a left populism can win mass support in this crisis

Seumas Milne, Tuesday 3 April 2012

"....It's true that Galloway's record on western-backed wars and occupations in the Muslim world, and his uncompromising defence of the most demonised community in the country, gave him a particular credibility in a constituency with a 37% Muslim population. And the call for withdrawal from Afghanistan is certainly popular with Muslims – though it's also supported by 70% of the entire country.

But the central thrust of Galloway's pitch in Bradford was in fact about cuts, tuition fees, unemployment, poverty and the decline of a city neglected and mismanaged by all the main parties. Respect campaigned as "real Labour" against New Labour, while Galloway declared he wanted to "drag Labour in a progressive direction". And far from dividing communities on ethnic or religious lines, he won majorities in every part of the constituency, including the mainly white areas.

Bradford was a vote against austerity and war, but also against a reviled me-too political establishment, local and national. That alienation has been growing for years, but as cuts are forced through and living standards squeezed further, expect more one-offs whenever the opportunity arises.

Such alienation is common across de-industrialised, deregulated Europe and can also be exploited by the right....."

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