The Bradford spring. No matter how seemingly powerful, no corrupted, out-of-touch elite can last forever. The people of Bradford West have spoken, and politics in the city and in this country will never be the same again. Anyone who took part in this historic campaign, or who observed it dispassionately, knew by last weekend that something spectacular was going to take place.
A 5,000 Labour majority was transformed into a 10,000 majority for Respect – the same total vote for me as the outgoing MP had in a general election – winning across every ward in the constituency. It was the most spectacular byelection result in British political history.
The word revolution was on many lips in this deprived and hitherto disenfranchised city well before Friday morning's result. And, like the Arab revolutions, this is a movement, above all, of the young. Bradford has a young population. By 2020 half the population will be under 25. They have grown up in the years when Tony Blair and his successors murdered the real Labour tradition, taking for granted the loyalty of working people – nowhere more so than in this city, where the precursor to the Labour party, the Independent Labour party, was founded in 1893.
A rotten combination of complacency, incompetence, opportunism and rule by clique has presided over Bradford's decline. It was going down even during the 13 years of New Labour government, which included the richest decade in British history. Now it is in danger of sinking under the sado-monetarist austerity of the Con-Dem coalition.
Labour's opposition in parliament is feeble to the point of paralysis, because so many share so much of the grim orthodoxy that has plunged the world into the great recession.