Labour Launches Bitter Attack On George Galloway After His Stunning By-Election Win

Party says its former MP "is only interested in stoking fear and division".
George Calloway celebrates with supporters at his campaign headquarters after winning the Rochdale by-election.
George Calloway celebrates with supporters at his campaign headquarters after winning the Rochdale by-election.
Christopher Furlong via Getty Images

Labour has launched a bitter attack on George Galloway after his stunning victory in the Rochdale by-election.

The veteran left-winger easily won the contest by 5,697 votes to be re-elected to parliament for a fourth time.

Labour, which had held the seat, was beaten into fourth place following a disastrous campaign in which it had to withdraw support for its own candidate, Azhar Ali, after he was recorded making anti-Israel comments.

Following his victory, Galloway described Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak as “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.”

In a statement this morning, a Labour party spokesperson said: “We deeply regret that the Labour party was unable to field a candidate in this by-election and apologise to the people of Rochdale. George Galloway only won because Labour did not stand.

“Rochdale deserved the chance to vote for an MP that would bring communities together and deliver for working people. George Galloway is only interested in stoking fear and division. As an MP he will be a damaging force in our communities and public life.

“The Labour party will quickly begin the process to select a new Labour candidate for the general election, and will be campaigning hard to deliver the representation and fresh start that Rochdale deserves.”

Labour chiefs will now launch a major inquest into the party’s calamitous by-election campaign.

In particular, they will want to reflect on the decision to rush the by-election, which was triggered by the death of sitting Labour MP Tony Lloyd.

By convention, a by-election in such circumstances is not usually called until after the MP’s funeral.

But Labour decided to carry out a speedy selection process, meaning the by-election date was already known and Azhar Ali had been selected before Mr Lloyd was laid to rest.

Galloway’s presence in the House of Commons will also be a major headache for Keir Starmer as he will seek to expose Labour’s deep splits over Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza.


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