‘This is for Gaza’: George Galloway wins Rochdale by-election


Controversial left-wing firebrand George Galloway has won the Rochdale by-election.

The former Labour MP and Celebrity Big Brother contestant, who was standing for the Workers Party of Britain, won 12,335 votes.

Labour had been expected to win the seat until its campaign was thrown into disarray by leaked recordings of their candidate Azhar Ali making alleged antisemitic comments, obtained by the Daily Mail.

The party withdrew its support from Mr Ali, but by this time it was too late to remove his name from the ballot paper.

Mr Galloway campaigned heavily on the Palestinian cause in Gaza, aiming to use the issue to mobilise Muslim voters in Rochdale.

Rival candidate Simon Danczuk, representing Reform UK, accused Mr Galloway of being divisive and said he would be the “MP for Gaza” rather than the Greater Manchester town.

Mr Danczuk himself previously represented the seat as a Labour MP but was barred from standing for the party in 2017 after apologising for “inappropriate” text messages sent to a 17-year-old girl.

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Guy Otten, the Green Party candidate, also had party support withdrawn over comments made on social media but his name still appeared on the ballot paper.

Paul Ellison, the Conservative runner, also faced criticism for going on holiday shortly before the vote.

Pic: PA
George Galloway. Pic: PA

Rochdale is one of the most deprived towns in England and has been the subject of grooming gang scandals in recent years, with a major report in January concluding that young girls were left “at the mercy” of paedophiles due to failings by senior police and council bosses.

Residents in the constituency likened the by-election to a “pantomime” and told Sky News they felt there were no credible candidates for what they called “the forgotten corner of England”.

The contest was triggered by the death of Labour stalwart Sir Tony Lloyd, who passed away in January following a battle with leukaemia.

The campaign was expected to be relatively straightforward for Labour until it emerged Mr Ali had suggested Israel was complicit in the massacre of its own people in the Hamas attacks on 7 October last year.

He apologised for the remarks, but further reports emerged that he had blamed “people in the media from certain Jewish quarters” for the suspension of a pro-Palestinian MP – prompting Labour to withdraw support for him.

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