Constituency profile: Battle for Bradford West hots up as George Galloway clashes with Labour

THE lack of political posters on lampposts and in windows belies the fact that the campaign for Bradford West has really taken off - and it’s got personal.

Manningham Mills dominates the skyline of Bradford

Labour has already accused Respect’s controversial candidate George Galloway of “resorting to desperate untruths” about its candidate Naz Shah.

Then matters appeared to have hotted up further on Sunday when a UKIP man claimed he was assaulted at a hustings event at Bradford Cathedral.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Meanwhile, voters are thinking on personal lines as they weigh up the candidates.

On White Abbey Road, newsagent Ali Raza believes Labour has a big job to overturn Galloway’s 10,000 majority.

“George Galloway is liked by the young because he is a good debater and is not shy of speaking his views. Young voters don’t like people who are diplomatic or who sugar coat what they say.

“For these reasons, he (Galloway) has a good chance.”

Mr Raza, a former union activist, says the NHS and education are important to him.

“A major concern for me to stick with Labour is the NHS and education.

The large number of young voters have the power around here - but many don’t care.

“I don’t vote - I’ve never voted,” says a 19-year-old shop assistant at an Asian food takeaway

She wouldn’t give her name but said: “I’m not sure why I haven’t voted. I’m just busy at work. The people who own this business know George Galloway and we hope he wins. Everyone here knows him. He came in the other day and I talked to him.”

At Crown Textiles, owner Shakeel Amini, 36, believes many were caught up in “hype” when Galloway was elected in 2012.

“The general feedback I get from people is that he (Galloway) has not been doing what he promised.

“The last time, people got caught up in the hype of George Galloway - I don’t know if that will happen again. I can’t see him having the same amount of popularity as last time.”

The focus of conversation has not all been about Galloway.

A shopkeeper who runs a hardware store said Labour’s Naz Shah was making people sit up and take note.

Ms Shah, a mother-of-three and women’s rights campaigner, recently won praise for talking about her traumatic childhood and her mother’s imprisonment for murder.

She was chosen as the Labour candidate after the party’s first choice stood down.

The shopkeeper, who asked not to be named, said: “People are saying that the Labour Party candidate (Naz Shah) is weak because she is very unknown. I had only heard about her six weeks ago when she was on the radio.

“She (Naz Shah) is getting a good response from the media after talking about her previous life and I think the public might support her. Maybe she will get the sympathy vote.”

He believes Galloway has been in the limelight for too long.

“George is not good for Bradford West - it’s my opinion. He wants to be in the limelight all the time. But he can make people excited and knows how to control the ordinary people.”

In the Barracks Tavern pub in Lumb Lane, Manningham, unemployed Patrick McMahon said he did not think Galloway had spent enough time in Bradford since he was elected.

Fellow drinker Brian Smith, 62, a builder, says Galloway lost credibility when he appeared on Big Brother.

Mr Smith has been voting for 40 years but says he has lost patience with party politics.

“I have voted all my life but last time I didn’t as I was that disillusioned with politics. It’s a waste of time, nothing happens.

“Nothing ever changes; in 43 years of voting, nothing has changed. Personally, I think Ukip and Farage will do okay.”

He added: “Asian people around here do seem to like Galloway but in my opinion he is a joker who has done nothing for Bradford. He’s done nothing apart from make a fool of himself on Big Brother.”

* The other candidates in Bradford West:

George Grant (Conservative), Alun Griffiths (Lib Dem), Harry Boota (Ukip), Celia Hickson (Green), Therese Hirst (English Democrats), James Kirkcaldy (Independent).