The Bradford West result has given the system a bit of a kick up the backside. George Galloway is a seasoned and clever performer and knows which buttons to press. It’s hard to ignore his bandwagon when it rolls into town. Respect and Ukip were the only parties to increase their votes in Bradford, in real and percentage terms, compared to the 2010 general election. People are tired of the same old parties. Increasingly, the political elite is disconnected from the people – there are few politicians in government who have worked in the real world or understand the challenges facing hard-working people on a daily basis. Look at Ed Miliband – he’s never held down a proper job in his life. The gulf between the people and professional politicians is becoming bigger. Ukip represents everyday people, not a privileged elite. It is a party for people that have become fed up with the empty promises and U-turns of the political elite.
Nigel Farage is leader of Ukip and an MEP.
The Labour Party needs to understand that, outside Westminster, there are those for whom the Iraq war remains unforgotten and unforgiven. This result is also a reflection of the feeling about what is happening in Afghanistan, alongside the government’s self-inflicted jobs crisis. There are huge long-term lessons to be learnt by Labour. The truth is we’re learning and changing. Ed Miliband is opposed to what happened in Iraq, we’ve stood up to Rupert Murdoch as a party, and we’re firmly opposed to what’s happening with bankers’ bonuses. And we’re giving the government the fight of its life over its plans for the NHS. My constituency, Hackney, rioted last summer because people felt disregarded, marginalised and lacking a stake in society. It was an inner city area trying to make its voice heard. Bradford has done the same. Yet, they didn’t take to the streets, of course – they have caused a tremor at the ballot box.
Diane Abbott is Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington.