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‘This is for Gaza’: Galloway sweeps to victory in Rochdale

A TRIUMPHANT George Galloway told Sir Keir Starmer today “this is for Gaza” after sweeping to a sensational victory in the Rochdale by-election.

Mr Galloway took the seat with 40 per cent of the poll and a majority of nearly 6,000 over the runner-up, independent businessman David Tully. His win can be attributed to a massive revolt, primarily among Rochdale’s Muslim community, against Labour’s backing for Israel’s Gaza genocide.

Mr Galloway declared to Sir Keir after the results were announced in the early hours of this morning: “You have paid and you will pay a high price for the role you have played in enabling, encouraging and covering for the catastrophe presently going on in occupied Palestine in the Gaza Strip.

“This is going to spark a movement, a shifting of the tectonic plates in scores of parliamentary constituencies.

“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.

“Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak are two cheeks of the same backside and they both got well and truly spanked tonight.”

For neither of the major parties to place in the first two in a parliamentary election is believed to be almost unprecedented.

Labour’s Azhar Ali, still on the ballot paper but belatedly disowned by the party after making conspiracist and anti-semitic remarks, got just 8 per cent of the vote, an astonishing drop of 44 per cent from Labour’s 2019 result, even allowing for circumstances.

According to polling expert John Curtice, this was the biggest fall for a party since the second world war.

Labour claimed today that it would have won if it had managed to get a supportable candidate in the field and apologised to the people of Rochdale for its failure.

Sir Keir said: “Galloway only won because Labour didn’t stand a candidate.

“But I took that decision. It was the right decision. And when I say I changed the Labour Party, I mean it.

“Obviously we will put a first-class candidate, a unifier, before the voters in Rochdale at the general election.”

Left campaign group Momentum, however, called it a “needless and self-inflicted loss.”

A spokesperson said: “First, Starmer’s utterly factional selection processes resulted in a candidate who was clearly unfit for office.

“Then the Labour leadership tried to defend him as one of their own. Finally, Keir Starmer’s failure to stand with Gaza in its hour of need left the door open for George Galloway.

“To avoid any more damaging repeats, Starmer should end the factional abuse of Labour’s selection processes and stand up for an immediate, permanent ceasefire in Gaza.”

Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German said the result was a “major blow” to Sir Keir.

“Congratulations to George Galloway but be prepared to rebut a new wave of Islamophobia from mainstream politicians over this,” she wrote on X.

Rapper and activist Lowkey posted: “What Rochdale must teach the political class is that while Israel’s genocide in Gaza is not a red line for them, it is for much of the population that they want to actually vote for them.”

Communist Party general secretary Rob Griffiths said: “In voting for George Galloway, people have supported the rights of the Palestinian people and rejected British imperialism’s support for genocidal Israeli policies in Gaza.

“Unlike Keir Starmer, they uphold human rights and demand an immediate and unconditional end to the slaughter of the innocents at the hands of Israeli state terrorism.”

The Indian Workers Association (IWA) GB said that the people of Rochdale have “registered their views,” saying in a statement: “Enough is enough. It’s time for Sunak and Starmer to act.

“The government of Britain and the Labour leadership … need to stop the appeasement and end their culpability in the genocide.”

The group also called out the silence of the Indian government, saying: “The Modi government should stop following the stance adopted by the United States and Britain…

“The British and Indian government should urgently co-ordinate its efforts with countries of the global South like South Africa, Brazil and the Arab countries to ensure an immediate and permanent ceasefire.”

But Labour deputy national campaign co-ordinator Ellie Reeves suggested today that the party would not change its position on Gaza despite the loss.

She told Sky News: “We’ve set out our position on Gaza and that was adopted by the Commons just the other week.”

The Tories came third with 12 per cent, a fall of more than 19 per cent, and climate change campaigner Mark Coleman, supported by a fringe of the Rochdale left, won 455 votes.

The Reform party’s Simon Danczuk, former Labour MP for the town who was disgraced after sending inappropriate messages to a 17-year-old girl, got a feeble 6 per cent.

The question exercising politics today was whether the Rochdale result could be replicated elsewhere in the impending general election.

Mr Galloway said his Workers Party had “59 parliamentary candidates ready to go and we will stand in therefore three-score Labour seats and either defeat [the party] ourselves or cause its defeat,” he said, adding that he would also support independent candidates backing the Palestinian cause.

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