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George Galloway wins Rochdale by-election

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The hardline left-winger dedicated his landslide victory to Gaza

NEWS IN ENGLISH 02.03.2024, 17:27 08.03.2024, 20:18 Eddie Osman
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George Galloway wins Rochdale by-election
© David Hunt (Wiki Commons)
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George Galloway has secured a triumphant return to Parliament with a decisive victory in the Rochdale by-election, focusing his campaign on the Gaza war. Galloway, now representing the Workers Party of Britain, secured 12,335 votes, a lead of almost 6,000 over other candidates. His win is notable as Labour withdrew support for their initial candidate, Azhar Ali, due to allegations of antisemitic remarks.

Galloway, a former Labour MP until 2003 and later an independent and Respect Party MP until 2015, emphasized the electorate's rejection of the two major parties. In his victory speech, he conveyed a message to Labour leader Keir Starmer, stating, "This is for Gaza." The reference was made in connection to the Labour leader's initial reluctance to advocate for a ceasefire in Gaza, a region that has witnessed over 30,000 casualties during the past five months of Israeli bombardment.

In a retort against Starmer and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, he added: "Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak are two cheeks of the same backside, and they both got well and truly spanked tonight here in Rochdale."

While hecklers attempted to disrupt his speech, Galloway remained undeterred, warning his former party of a "high price" for "enabling, encouraging and covering for the catastrophe" in Gaza. Galloway, a vocal advocate for Palestinian rights, highlighted the dissatisfaction of Muslim and other citizens with Labour.

Galloway asserted to the BBC that his newly formed Workers Party, established in 2019, has 60 colleagues ready to contest general elections, indicating a potential shift in various parliamentary constituencies. He urged the public to recognize the widespread discontent with Labour, especially in regions with traditionally loyal voters.

"It's true that every Muslim is bitterly angry at Keir Starmer and his misnamed Labour party - but you would be very foolish if you didn't realise that millions of other citizens of our country are too," he said.

"Beginning here in the north west, in the west Midlands, in London, from Ilford to Bethnal Green and Bow, Labour is on notice that they have lost the confidence of millions of their voters who loyally and traditionally voted for them, generation after generation."

Beyond his political ambitions, Galloway pledged to save the local football club from "extinction" and commended independent candidate Dave Tully for his remarkable second-place finish. Tully, known for his involvement in a local garage business and rugby club, resonated with voters seeking a change from mainstream politics.

The Conservative candidate, Paul Ellison, secured third place, followed by the suspended Labour candidate Azhar Ali and Liberal Democrat Iain Donaldson. The Reform Party, represented by former Labour MP Simon Danczuk, fell short of expectations.

Galloway's victory, marked by a historic 41% swing against Labour, positioned him alongside Winston Churchill as the only MP to represent four separate towns or cities in the House of Commons.

Labour leader Keir Starmer attributed Galloway's win to Labour withdrawing support from their candidate, expressing regret while emphasizing it was the right decision.

The outcome of the by-election adds pressure on Starmer to strengthen Labour's stance on Israel. The party's defence of Israel has split opinion in Britain's leftist camp, with many tradition Labour voters disillusioned by the party's pro-Israel stance.

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