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George Galloway tipped as bookies' favourite in Rochdale by-election

GEORGE GALLOWAY has been tipped as bookies’ favourite to win the Rochdale by-election on February 29.

The improved odds for Mr Galloway come after Labour’s campaign in the town collapsed when the party withdrew its support for its own candidate.

The one-time Labour and Respect Party MP, now standing as a candidate for the Workers’ Party of Britain, said he is confident of becoming Rochdale’s next MP.

Former Labour candidate Azhar Ali lost his party’s support over remarks suggesting Israel knew in advance of the Hamas attack on October 7, and that Jewish figures in the media were shaping the narrative about the Israeli war on Palestine.

His name will still appear on the ballot as the Labour candidate.

Mr Galloway is likely to draw on local anger against Labour’s refusal to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. Rochdale has a 30,000-strong Asian-origin community.

He said: “Obviously these are quite unusual circumstances.

“So yes, bookies’ favourite and the bookies are not usually wrong.

“But we are not taking anything for granted. Confident but not complacent.”

Mr Galloway said that in addition to Gaza and Palestine he is also campaigning against the closure of local maternity services, the NHS, the economy and poverty in Rochdale – one of England’s most deprived communities.

Labour’s withdrawal of support for its own candidate saw bookies’ odds on a victory for Mr Galloway fall from 20-1 to 2-1.

Among his campaign supporters in Rochdale is Chris Williamson, former Labour MP for Derby North, who was suspended by the party in 2019 for saying Labour should stop apologising over its anti-racist record.

The by-election has been caused by the death of the sitting Labour MP Sir Tony Lloyd.

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