Lutfur Rahman: Swing shows parties out of touch
By Lutfur Rahman
Like most people, I was surprised by the scale of George Galloway's victory in the Bradford West by-election last week.
While the national media obsessed about "pasty-gate" and senior politicians played along, a grassroots democratic change was taking place in this northern town.
The massive swing away from all of the main parties show just how out of touch the public thinks they are and how disaffected people are with mainstream politics and politicians in general.
The Bradford West seat has been held by Labour since its creation in 1974. But clearly the party has taken voters for granted for too long.
In a week that saw George Osborne's "Robin Hood in reverse" budget laying the burden of economic difficulties on the poor, the vulnerable and the elderly, another Tory cash-for- influence scandal and a fuel crisis, it's easy to see why they'd want to shift some media pressure onto Labour.
People in the inner-cities are really feeling the impact of this government's austerity programme, and Galloway's victory shows that a staunch anti-austerity campaign connects with voters.
People in Bradford wanted to discuss more substantial issues. In other words, it was bread and butter, rather than the politics of pasties, that resonated on the doorsteps.
Here in Tower Hamlets we are putting forward a real alternative to the policies of austerity and unemployment.
My budget fights cuts and protects frontline services and vulnerable residents.
We have safeguarded vital services like libraries and ideas stores, youth services, free homecare, children's centres with investment in the community and voluntary sector.
We've extended the London Living Wage and were the first authority in the country to reintroduce Educational Maintenance Allowance.
So despite the national trend, in Tower Hamlets we are doing our bit to support local people through these difficult times and encourage other local authorities to follow suit.
■ Lutfur Rahman is Executive mayor, Tower Hamlets Council.