Orpington Man Tops George Galloway

George Galloway, with characteristic modesty, has declared his Bradford West by-election victory the most sensational in British history. Historian John Curtice begs to differ, noting a number of more remarkable by-election results.

But even Curtice missed another by-election that outclasses Galloway’s result. The week before last was the 50th anniversary of Eric Lubbock’s stunning win for the Liberals in Orpington. I had the pleasure to work with Mr. Lubbock (now Lord Avebury) on a bill recently and he has the same delightful, impish smile today as he displays in this wonderful old newsreel from the election night of 1962.

A great deal of political analysis was inspired by Lubbock’s upset victory, with many sociological theories put forth about the emergence of a new kind of suburban voter (The “Orpington Man”) who would leave the Tory party of MacMillan and make the Liberals dominant once more. None of these theories panned out for the Liberals, so perhaps Lord Avebury’s simpler explanation for his Orpington triumph is closer to the truth:

It was bitterly cold during the March of 1962, and the Conservative candidate spent most of the campaign sitting in a heated caravan, which didn’t go down too well on the doorstep. In contrast, we were out in all weathers.

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

3 thoughts on “Orpington Man Tops George Galloway”

  1. And here I was wondering how long it would take you to talk about Bradford West. 🙂

    Where the interesting question, in my opinion, is not Mr. Galloway’s personal “charm” [1], or the causes of the stomping that Labour received, but why the constituency went from casting less than 50% of their votes for socialist candidates up to over 80% and what that means for the governing coalition in general and the public reception of their austerity program in particular.

    David Cameron may be relieved that he’s out of the spotlight for a change, but I still doubt that he enjoyed it when his Conservatives went from 31.1% to 8.4% of the vote.

    Or, in a variation of your previous post’s title, can the news media outlets afford comprehensive reporting, or does the modern news cycle restrict them to just debating a single point per topic?

    [1] I would be willing to agree that George Galloway, unlike John McCain, is a genuine maverick. I’m just not sure that anybody who ever used that attribute for him meant it in a good way.

    1. Katja

      It was a remarkable week. The Tories had a series of humiliating mistakes as you know, and you would think that would be to Labour’s advantage, but the Bradford result and the YouGov polls seem to show that the winners are the various smaller parties like RESPECT, UKIP etc. There seems to be, as in the US, a basic dissatisfaction with the usual faces in the UK, which means that a loss by one of the big parties is no longer necessarily to the profit of the other.

  2. Galloway is both an entertaining clown, a corrupt and unscrupulous piece of work, and ocasionally right – see his confrontation in 2005 with a US Senate committee on the second Gulf war.

    How did he win in Bradford and by so much? From what I can see, the Tories imploded thanks to Usborne’s austerity policies and clumsiness. Galloway sandbagged the Labour candidate – a decent standard-issue middle-class Muslim loyalist – with accusations of drinking, amd managed to get disaffected Muslim voters on his side through a flamboyantly pro-Palestinian and anti-Afghan war stand, spread by social media. It certainly wasn’t by big spending.

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