David Cohen of The Evening Standard writes:
Jim Fitzpatrick has decisively held on to Poplar and Limehouse, carrying this vital battleground seat for Labour after a count that took 13 hours to complete.
On a long and unpredictable night, the widely touted neck-and-neck three-way race failed to materialise largely because of the collapse of the vote for Respect’s George Galloway, who failed to turn up for the declaration.
In a turnout of 63 per cent, Mr Fitzpatrick, 58, the farming minister, took 18,679 of the 50,400 total votes cast compared with 12,649 for the Conservative Tim Archer and 8,160 for Respect’s Mr Galloway, who was soundly trounced.
Farming minister? Excuse my naivete, but how does an MP from an urban constituency without a single farm get to be farming minister?
Mr Fitzpatrick surprised everyone by almost doubling his 2005 winning margin of 3,823 to 6,030.
Mr Fitzpatrick, who had arrived bleary-eyed at the Mile End Park leisure centre in the shadow of Canary Wharf at 2am to cheers from his supporters, had to wait another nine exhausting hours to hear his victory confirmed.
Taking the podium against a banner backdrop ironically emblazoned “Tower Hamlets: Excellence in London’s East End” after the shambolicly long count, he said: “I have recently been the subject of a number of smears, being accused of Islamaphobia, of trying to ban traditional Muslim weddings, and of trying to close the East London Mosque. These would be laughable if they were not peddled to try and poison the minds of the Muslim community. Happily that community refused to be conned.
“The Dis-Respect party has clearly suffered a huge defeat. I am confident we can build better community relations without their polarising effect. Thankfully we don’t have to hear that dreadful open-top bus anymore. I could claim that as my first achievement as MP of Poplar and Limehouse – reducing noise pollution.”
Mr Archer said the high turnout was a victory for democracy, but he called Mr Galloway’s stay-away contemptuous and despicable. “When you have asked people to vote for you and you don’t even bother to pitch up for the count, that is low.”
Rather poor sportsmanship on Galloway’s part, no? Telling the voters, in essence, “You don’t want me? Then fuck off!”
Although Galloway has been brought low, I’ll always remember him in his moments of dignity and glory. Like this:
So what’s next for The Gorgeous One? I suppose now that his Parliamentary income is gone, he’ll be clinging to his Press TV gig like grim death.
I’ll give Jackie Gleason (as Ralph Kramden on “The Honeymooners”) the final word.
Update: Commenter barneymagrew writes:
You’re being a bit unfair to the farming minister. His constituency has one of the finest city farms in London.
Further update: The Times reports:
George Galloway was chased out of the East End as his former seat of Bethnal Green & Bow was taken in a Labour landslide by a woman who becomes Britain’s first Bangladeshi MP. Muslims of all parties wept as Rushanara Ali, who spent her first seven years in Bangladesh, spoke of her community’s pride that one of their own had been elected to “the mother of Parliaments”.
“We say goodbye to George Galloway,” Ms Ali said. At the mention of Mr Galloway, almost 200 Muslim activists shouted “scum” and “out, out, out”. Ms Ali continued: “We decided it was time to pay our final respects to Respect. Together we voted to end the division and unite the East End.”
And after all he did for them…