Galloway celebrating his victory in the parliamentary by-elections in Rochdale (Reuters)

Veteran politician George Galloway won about 40% of the vote in the by-elections for the British Parliament for the city of Rochdale, which was dominated by the devastating Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.

Galloway targeted British Labor Party leader Keir Starmer in his victory speech and said, "Keir Starmer, this is for Gaza," and added, "You will pay a heavy price for the role you played in enabling, encouraging and covering up the catastrophe that is currently occurring in occupied Gaza in the Gaza Strip."

Galloway, a former Labor MP, has ousted his former party in three elections and will return to Parliament for the fourth time in 37 years.

"The Labor Party realizes that it has lost the trust of millions of its voters who have voted loyally for it, generation after generation," Galloway said.

Despite a campaign dominated by events in the Middle East, Galloway said he hoped to form a “grand coalition” with Rochdale councilors to work on local issues.

His victory comes after one of the most controversial by-elections in recent memory.

Galloway's team was so confident that they told reporters within an hour of polls closing that he had won "comfortably".

Chaos in the Labor Party

The Labor Party, which is defending a majority of close to 10,000 votes and ranks high in opinion polls, was expecting a direct competition to replace the current MP, Tony Lloyd, who died on January 17 due to leukemia.

But the campaign was thrown into disarray when it emerged that its candidate, Azhar Ali, had repeated anti-Israel conspiracy theories regarding the Al-Aqsa Flood operation on October 7, 2023, launched by the Al-Qassam Brigades - the military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) - and factions of the Palestinian resistance in response to the attacks. The Israeli escalation in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Labor was eventually forced to disavow Ali and abandon his campaign after only one week of competition.

Although Ali's name was on the ballot, it was too late to choose another candidate, as the Labor Party suspended all election campaigns in the city nearly 3 weeks ago.

Galloway, on the other hand, was impulsive and enthusiastic, touring Rochdale with a megaphone, describing the by-election as a “referendum on Gaza” and an opportunity to organize an anti-Labour protest.

Galloway remained one of the most prominent supporters of the Palestinian cause, as he led international lifeline convoys to Gaza, which he visited with solidarity activists, and obtained Palestinian citizenship given to him by Ismail Haniyeh, who was serving as Prime Minister of the government at the time.

Source: British press