George Galloway Returns To Parliament After Rochdale By-Election Victory

The controversial former Labour MP saw off dumped Labour candidate Azhar Ali, who finished in a distant fourth place.
George Galloway holds a rally at his headquarters after being declared the winner of the Rochdale by-election.
George Galloway holds a rally at his headquarters after being declared the winner of the Rochdale by-election.
Peter Byrne - PA Images via Getty Images

George Galloway has won the Rochdale by-election by a comfortable margin on the back of a pro-Palestine ticket and a disastrous Labour campaign.

The Workers Party of Britain leader comfortably defeated Azhar Ali, the Labour candidate who was dumped by the party during the campaign, to claim the seat.

Ali finished a lowly fourth place behind independent candidate David Tully and Paul Ellison of the Conservatives.

After securing 12,335 votes, a majority of 5,697, veteran left-winger Galloway was elected to parliament for the fourth time.

In his victory speech, Galloway took aim at both Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak, calling them “two cheeks of the same backside – and they both got spanked tonight”.

He said: “Keir Starmer, this is for Gaza. You have paid and you will pay for the role you have played in enabling, encouraging and covering for the catastrophe presently going on in occupied Palestine in the Gaza strip.”

The by-election was called following the death in January of sitting Labour MP Tony Lloyd.

He retained the seat at the 2019 election with a majority of nearly 10,000 and Labour were intially clear favourites to hold onto it.

However, the party withdrew its support for Ali shortly after he was selected as its candidate when recordings emerged of him making anti-Israeli comments at a community meeting.

Because it was too late to remove him from the ballot, he remained the official Labour candidate.

The bizarre nature of the by-election was underlined by the fact that senior Labour figures urged the party’s supporters to spoil their ballot paper rather than vote for any of the candidates.

Galloway was first elected to parliament as the Labour MP for Glasgow Hillhead in 1987, a seat he held until 2005, by which time it had been re-named Glasgow Kelvin.

By that time, however, he was no longer a Labour member, having been expelled from the party two years previously over his outspoken opposition to the Iraq war.

At the 2005 general election, he was elected the Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, defeating Labour’s Oona King in the process.

After losing his seat in 2010, Galloway returned to parliament again in 2012 when he won the Bradford West by-election.

Once again, he was defeated at the subsequent general election in 2015.

On Sky News, Galloway likened himself to Winston Churchill, who won election to parliament in four different constituencies. Galloway said: “If you like I’ve bettered it. He was elected for the two great parties of the state ... I have been elected three times outside the parameters of the great parties of the state.”


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