He lost ...
But at least Ryan Stephenson and his team accepted the result with good grace, something that could not be said for George Galloway, who won more than 8,000 votes, but still came only third. Galloway, who had previously decreed that he was done with speaking to the mainstream media, announced his latest move live, er, right there.
Speaking to Sky News (“first for breaking wind”), he declared “On multiple grounds, we will apply to the courts for this election result to be set aside. You’ll be hearing much more of this, from me, directly, from the horse’s mouth, over the next hours and days”. A successful challenge would, it is true, excuse Galloway from having to eat his hat.
... and she didn't
Earlier in the campaign, he had told Owen Jones “Let me break it to you gently: Labour are going to be third in this by-election … 100%. I’ll eat my hat in your presence. I’ll eat my hat if they’re not third”. Well, they’re not. He is. And, as for that legal challenge, well.
Galloway has been proclaiming the arrival of legal challenges all the way through the Batley and Spen campaign, most notably over Kirklees Council (which covers the Huddersfield and Dewsbury area, as well as Batley) removing swathes of election posters promoting The Great Man - as the BBC reported the other day.
“Kirklees Council said the adverts broke election rules but Mr Galloway accused the Labour-run authority of a ‘blatantly partisan move’ … James Giles, Mr Galloway's campaign manager, said it had instructed lawyers and reported the removal to West Yorkshire Police and the Electoral Commission”. No legal challenge as yet.
And those with longer memories may recall the last time that Galloway defended a seat that he had won in a by-election: that would be Bradford West, in 2015. The BBC again: “Former MP George Galloway has announced he has started legal proceedings to challenge his general election defeat. Mr Galloway, leader of the Respect Party, lost his Bradford West seat to Labour's Naz Shah, who he has alleged made ‘false statements’ during the campaign to affect the result. He also claimed ‘widespread malpractice’ involving postal voting meant the result must be ‘set aside’”. Didn’t happen.
What did happen after the Batley and Spen result was declared, though, quite apart from widespread agreement that Kim Leadbeater was extremely brave to stand in the constituency where her sister Jo Cox was murdered outside her constituency office in 2016, was Labour MPs who know Galloway of old saying what they thought of him.
After David Lammy told “I said it in 2005 and I’ll say it again. George Galloway is a carpetbagger who whips up racial tensions. The people of Batley and Spen have rightly rejected him”, Rupa Huq added “poisonous Galloway is champion carpetbagger as a young David Lammy points out here: Once again conquest has fallen flat, he needs to crawl back under his rock now”. You lost, George. Stuff your indefatigability.
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