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Left-wing firebrand wins UK by-election

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Picture: Niklas Halle’n / AFP / February 19, 2016 – Leader of the fringe Workers Party of Great Britain, George Galloway. A controversial left-wing firebrand, Galloway, was elected to the UK parliament on March 1, 2024 after tapping into anger over the Israel-Hamas war in a chaotic by-election marred by anti-Semitism allegations, winning the seat of Rochdale, in the north of England, by nearly 6,000 votes.

By AFP Reporter

Controversial left-wing firebrand George Galloway was elected to the UK parliament yesterday after tapping into anger over the Israel-Hamas war in a chaotic by-election marred by anti-Semitism allegations.

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 turbulent 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 deadly attack on October 7.

Galloway put the Gaza conflict front and centre of his campaign in Rochdale, which has a 30 percent Muslim population. “Keir Starmer, this is for Gaza,” Galloway, leader of the fringe Workers Party of Great Britain, said in his victory speech, referencing Labour’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.

Galloway, nicknamed “Gorgeous George”, gained international notoriety in 2005 when he was called to testify over Iraq in the US Senate.

A Labour spokesperson said: “We deeply regret that the Labour party was unable to field a candidate in this by-election and apologise to the people of Rochdale. George Galloway only won because Labour did not stand.

“Rochdale deserved the chance to vote for an MP that would bring communities together and deliver for working people. George Galloway is only interested in stoking fear and division. As an MP he will be a damaging force in our communities and public life,” the spokesperson added. – AFP