Left-wing firebrand George Galloway wins UK by-election

Published March 2, 2024
George Galloway celebrates after winning the by-election, at his campaign headquarters, in Rochdale, near Manchester.—Reuters
George Galloway celebrates after winning the by-election, at his campaign headquarters, in Rochdale, near Manchester.—Reuters

ROCHDALE: Left-wing firebrand George Gallo­way was elected to the UK parliament on Friday after tapping into anger over the Israel-Hamas war in a by-election.

Galloway, 69, first became an MP in 1987 and will return to the House of Commons for the first time since 2015 after winning the seat of Roc­hdale, in the north of England, by nearly 6,000 votes.

The vote saw the main opposition Labour party withdraw its candidate, Azhar Ali, after he touted a conspiracy theory that Israel had allowed Hamas to carry out its attack on October 7.

Galloway put the Gaza conflict front and centre of his campaign in Rochdale, which has a 30 per cent Muslim population.

Workers Party leader put Gaza conflict front and centre in his campaign

“Keir Starmer, this is for Gaza,” Galloway, leader of the Workers Party of Great Britain, said in his victory speech, referring to the Labour party’s leader.

“You have paid, and you will pay, a high price for the role that you have played in enabling, encouraging and covering for the catastrophe presently going on in occupied Palestine in the Gaza Strip,” he added.

The Scottish-born Gall­o­way, nicknamed “Gorge­ous George”, has had a long and chequered political career, in which he has represented several parties, including Labour.

He sparked controversy in the 1990s when he visited then-Iraq leader Saddam Hussein, telling him: “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability”.

Galloway gained international attention in 2005 when he was called to testify over Iraq in the US Senate. He had earlier been expelled from Labour over his stance on the war.

His majority of 5,697 votes in Rochdale amou­nted to 18.3 per cent of the total, on a turnout of 39.7 per cent.

The surprise runner-up was David Tully, a local businessman and independent candidate.

It is very rare for none of the main parties to finish in first and second place.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2024

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