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Galloway claims stunning poll win
George Galloway has claimed a sensational victory in the Bradford West by-election in what would be a serious blow to Ed Miliband's Labour party.
"By the Grace of God we have won the most sensational victory in British political history," the maverick Respect candidate wrote on Twitter as votes were counted.
Labour went into the contest - sparked by the resignation due to ill-health of Marsha Singh - the overwhelming favourites with bookmakers.
As he did in the 2005 general election, when he dramatically swiped an east London seat from his former party, Mr Galloway targeted the votes of a large Asian community.
A Labour source conceded that there had been a "late surge" of support for the anti-war campaigner, who was expelled from the party in 2003, and that the contest was "neck and neck". He pointed out that the Conservative Party had "absolutely evaporated".
But after a fraught week of negative headlines for the Tory-led Government, a win for Mr Galloway would be certain to switch some attention back onto Mr Miliband's leadership.
Labour secured an increased majority in the seat in 2010 of 5,763 and a reverse would be the first for an Opposition since May 2000 when the Liberal Democrats won Romsey from the Tories.
Turnout in the poll was just over 50% - considered high for such a contest, especially in an urban area.
Mr Galloway told Sky News he had won a "big victory" - winning at least 50% of the vote in some areas and doing well in areas without large Muslim populations.
Unlike after his 2005 election victory in Bethnal Green and Bow, where he had said he would serve only one term, he said he hoped to be MP for Bradford for the long term. He said: "It is a very comprehensive defeat for New Labour, it is a pathetic performance by the Government parties. The big three political parties have had a very salutary, unkind lesson this evening and I hope that they all take note. The people of Bradford have spoken this evening for people in inner cities everywhere in the United Kingdom."