George Galloway wins Rochdale by-election…

From the BBC:

George Galloway is back in Parliament with a resounding win in the Rochdale by-election after a campaign in which the Gaza war was a running theme.

“Keir Starmer – this is for Gaza,” the former Labour MP said, after polling 12,335 votes, nearly 6,000 more than any other candidate.

Labour, which had a 10,000 majority, had withdrawn support for candidate Azhar Ali over antisemitic comments.

Mr Galloway will take his Commons seat for the Workers Party of Britain.

He has previously been an MP for Labour until 2003, then in the Commons as an independent and Respect Party MP for three constituencies between 2003 and 2015.

Smaller parties left the mainstream candidates in the dust in the Rochdale vote, which was sparked by the death of Labour MP Sir Tony Lloyd, with second place going to independent and local businessman Dave Tully.

In his victory speech, Mr Galloway highlighted the local voters’ rejection of the two main parties in Westminster.

He said: “Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak are two cheeks of the same backside and they both got well and truly spanked tonight here in Rochdale.”

He was interrupted by a heckler accusing him of being a climate change denier, before she was shouted down by his supporters, and had orange confetti thrown over him by rival candidate Rev Mark Coleman, a Just Stop Oil supporter.

But none of this fazed the 69-year-old, who went on to warn that his former party would “pay a high price” for “enabling, encouraging and covering for the catastrophe” in Gaza.

Mr Galloway has long agitated for causes related to the Middle East, including for Palestinian rights, and has regularly stood for election in constituencies with a high Muslim population, such as Rochdale.

He told the BBC he had 60 Workers Party colleagues willing to stand in the general election and there would be “a shifting of the tectonic plates in scores of parliamentary constituencies”.

“It’s true that every Muslim is bitterly angry at Keir Starmer and his misnamed Labour party – but you would be very foolish if you didn’t realise that millions of other citizens of our country are too,” he said.

“Beginning here in the north west, in the west Midlands, in London, from Ilford to Bethnal Green and Bow, 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.”

George Galloway was a high-profile candidate, so this could just be a blip for Labour, or it could be a sign that their perceived blandness and desire not to say anything on any issue that might rock the boat is not playing well with some sections of the voting public.

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