'This is for Gaza': George Galloway's warning shot to Keir Starmer and Labour after winning Rochdale by-election

1 March 2024, 05:56 | Updated: 1 March 2024, 10:43

George Galloway has been speaking to LBC after his Rochdale by-election victory
George Galloway has been speaking to LBC after his Rochdale by-election victory. Picture: LBC/Getty/Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

George Galloway has issued a warning shot to Sir Keir Starmer after he stormed to victory in yesterday's by-election in Rochdale.

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The by-election was called after the death of Labour MP Sir Tony Lloyd last month.

Labour had initially expected a straightforward path to victory, but that changed when it emerged that its candidate, Azhar Ali, had pushed anti-Israel conspiracies.

That cleared the path to victory for Galloway, a former Labour MP, who described the by-election as a "poll on Gaza" as he appealed to Rochdale's predominantly Muslim population.

New Rochdale MP George Galloway on what he would say to Keir Starmer 'in the toilets of Parliament'

Speaking to LBC after his victory, Galloway said he would give Starmer a "piece of my mind" if he bumped into him in Parliament.

"I'd say [to Starmer] that the course of action you have embarked upon in your 'unqualified support' for Israel...is going to lead your party to disaster," he told LBC.

Meanwhile, immediately after winning the by-election, Galloway said: "Keir Starmer, this for Gaza."

"Your abandonment of traditional Labour values, your embrace of neoliberal economics and imperialist politics abroad is going to be the death of your party and it richly deserves it."

Read More: Former Labour MP George Galloway storms to victory in Rochdale by-election after chaotic campaign

Read More: Keir Starmer's shadow teams could have just a month to talk to civil servants if PM calls May election

A Labour Party 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 communties and public life.

“The Labour party will quickly beging the process to select a new Labour candidate for the general election, and will be campaigning hard to deliver the representation and fresh start that Rochdale deserves."

Health minister Dame Andrea Leadsom has told LBC News that MPs are “quite concerned” about the election of George Galloway and that he will have to be “very careful” about ‘stirring up division’.

She said: “The election of George Galloway is not going to help to enable people to take each other’s views with respect, so yes I think colleagues across the House are quite concerned about his election. Nevertheless it is a decision of the people of Rochdale.

"I certainly think that George Galloway will have to be very careful about the extent to which he seeks to stir up division in parliament and across the country because this is something that is of grave concern to all parliamentarians.”

Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer. Picture: Getty
New MP for Rochdale George Galloway
New MP for Rochdale George Galloway. Picture: Getty

In the run up the by-election, the Labour Party said it was 'too late' to remove Ali as a Labour candidate, but offered him no support and he likely would have had the whip immediately removed had he won.

Labour MPs, including shadow health secretary Wes Streeting, said they would have 'spoiled their ballot' rather than vote for Mr Ali.

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