“Vote Respect” they told me. “Vote Respect and vote for change” is what they said. And Vote Respect I did. Well, for me, a Respect voter, there’s been a change. It’s not been good.
I wasn’t apathetic, knowing a bit about local and national politics, but it was always something for someone else, something for somebody, somewhere, to ‘do’ and for me to, like as not, complain about.
But then, along came George. He empowered me. He told me he’d stick up for me. He told me he’d sort out my city, its unemployment and its education. He told me I wasn’t just an individual, but I was part of the Bradford Spring. He told me he’d do something, he’d shout about my issues, and he’d fight against those three buttocks of the same arse. He told me he’d be my MP, working for me and my city.
Well, it’s not like that.
On the other side of the election, having a Respect MP is quite different.
In Bradford, we’ve become pretty disillusioned with Gorgeous George. I knew there’d be complaints about him. I mean, he’d stuck it to the man. The left, the right and the centre complained about him. I expected that, I mean, he was fighting ‘them’, wasn’t he?
But it quickly became clear that he was fighting, well, everyone, including his own constituents and his own party.
I liked having an MP I could contact at a moment’s notice. George knows the importance of social media. He credited Twitter with his landslide win. Maybe that’s why Lee Jasper has allegedly been using Tweet-bots to pretend he’s got more support than he has. A few times, I even used that outlet. I’d ask him about ‘this’, and he’d get back to me. I asked him about ‘that’, and he answered me. Then, I asked him about claims made in the Guardian about what Respect was up to in Bradford. Accusations had been made that Respect Party activists had been calling up rape victims in the middle of the night to ask them if they were supporting a speech against George’s “sexual etiquette” comments, intimidating them, taking photos of them and posting them on Facebook. I wanted it to be untrue. I asked him (just once; just one tweet) about these claims and those that said the women who’d be so instrumental in his victory were being hounded out, forcibly removed, overlooked, overshadowed. All this was a request to refute the Guardian’s claims.
His response? He blocked me.
I felt, well, outraged. You see, George says he blocks only racists, swearers, sectarians. It seems, increasingly, that he also blocks his constituents who disagree with him, ask him to do something for his adopted city, or request that he does more for Bradford.
I laughed it off, got my “Blocked by Galloway” twibbon, and moved on.
Today, though, I needed my MP’s help. Bradford is to lose its BBC production team, having them moved to Leeds. Radio Leeds and BBC Asian Network will, from March, no longer have a place in the wonderful National Media Museum, but will be relocated to an office block in Leeds. That hurt. It would leave the National Media Museum, a large city and the country’s fourth largest metropolitan district without the national broadcaster. I was distraught! I was angry!
I bashed off tweets and emails to the council, the Media Select Committee, the BBC, Lord Patten and Bradford’s MPs including my own, George Galloway.
George Galloway responded.
My MP’s advice:
- Complain to those in power.
- Complain to those with money.
- Complain to those who can do something.
- Complain to my MP (I kid you not).
- Read up on British politics.
— John Atkinson (@AtkiTeach) November 27, 2012
In a few tweets (which you’ll see on my work account (@atkiteach) – my personal one (BD_Angry) having been already blocked), he blamed Labour, he blamed the council, he blamed the Tories and the LibDems; he told me he had no power to do anything. Again, he told me to read up on British politics. (How could I, a constituent, expect him, my MP, to do anything about it?).
I felt belittled, patronised and rubbished. I felt that my concerns were not shared, considered or thought worthy of a moment’s notice by my MP.
And finally… he blocked me… again.
So, it seems, I’m a double, bigot, a double racist, a double swearer… or, maybe, a double Bradfordian – the latter a badge I’ll gladly wear with pride.
— Bradford Geek (@bradfordgeek) November 27, 2012
This week, as you go to the polls and consider voting for Lee Japser (Respect (George Galloway) Party) or Yvonne Ridley (Respect (George Galloway) Party), have a think about what you’ll get. I voted for George Galloway. I voted for Respect.
Today, I didn’t get George Galloway and I certainly got no respect.