'This is for Gaza': Left-winger George Galloway wins Rochdale by-election

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Candidate George Galloway, leader of the Workers Party of Britain, speaks after winning the Rochdale Parliamentary by-election, at a polling station near Manchester, Britain, March 1, 2024. — Reuters
Candidate George Galloway, leader of the Workers Party of Britain, speaks after winning the Rochdale Parliamentary by-election, at a polling station near Manchester, Britain, March 1, 2024. — Reuters

George Galloway, leader of the left-wing Workers's party in Britain, has become the new lawmaker for the English town of Rochdale with 12,335 votes, compared to independent candidate David Tully, who came in second with 6,638 votes, Reuters reported on Friday.

Galloway won over many of Rochdale's Muslim community by attacking both Labour and Britain's governing Conservatives for supporting Israel's invasion of Gaza, making a foreign conflict the major issue — an unusual thing to do in a by-election where local concerns usually dominate.

In his victory speech, Galloway said: "Keir Starmer, this is for Gaza. 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."

His victory underlines the divisions in Britain over the Israel-Hamas conflict, which is in its fifth month and has brought protesters onto British streets in support of both sides.

British lawmakers have faced threats to do more to bring an end to the fighting in Gaza, and with the national election later this year, Galloway's return to parliament will be short-lived but explosive.

He has vowed to speak out on Gaza in parliament, challenging Labour, which initially gave full backing to Israel following the October 7 attack. The party has since shifted its position to call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

It will be the first time Galloway's left-wing Workers Party of Britain has been represented in parliament.