Pro-Palestine politician and pundit George Galloway has achieved a landslide victory in yesterday's Rochdale by-election. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)


Galloway the cat with the cream as he strokes Muslim vote to win UK by-election


Scottish pro-Palestine politician and media pundit George Galloway won a landslide victory in the Rochdale by-election in Northern England.

With about 30 per cent of the constituency’s voter base now said to be Muslim, Galloway was able to usurp Labour Party support in the area on February 29 by accusing its leader Keir Starmer of supporting Israel.

According to a BBC report, Galloway swept to victory, taking home 12,335 votes, or almost 40 per cent of the total cast.

The Labour Party, the previous winners in the constituency during the UK 2019 general elections, came in fourth, behind the Conservative’s candidate Paul Ellison and the independent candidate – self-described “local lad” – David Tully.

Azhar Ali, who initially ran for Starmer’s Labour, was disowned by the party on February 12 over allegations of anti-Semitism, meaning it had no officially endorsed candidate on the ballot paper as the February 29 voting booths opened.

The election result appears to indicate some decline in support for Starmer’s Labour. The party’s move to the centre on issues such as Palestine seems to be costing them support among Britain’s growing ethnic-minority populations.

“Galloway is likely to pose a significant short-term threat to the Labour Party,” UK political pundit and author Matt Goodwin told Brussels Signal.

Goodwin speculated that Galloway could use his win to “potentially build a national infrastructure”, allowing him to put pressure on other Labour Party seats previously thought safe.

He expressed scepticism, though, regarding how serious Galloway’s challenge might be in the longer run.

“It should also be stressed that many of the ‘Muslim heavy’ Labour-held seats he is likely to target are very safe Labour seats, while Labour is also forecast to make gains across the board at the next [general] election, suggesting Labour will be able to navigate this threat,” he said.

Labour apologised to the people of Rochdale in the wake of Galloway’s victory, insisting that the party would have won the election had it not withdrawn support for Ali.

“We apologise to the people of Rochdale for that,” senior Labour MP Ellie Reeves said, adding that her party “regrets” not having a candidate with its official blessing on the ballot paper.

Galloway’s victory has sparked controversy across Britain, with numerous elements of the left-wing firebrand’s politics causing concern among commentators.

The politician’s perceived “closeness” to Islam has been one cause for concern, with reports indicating he presented potential Muslim voters with an alternative campaign letter to that  sent to Rochdale’s other, non-Muslim residents.

Greeting the reader with the Islam-linked phrase “As-salamu alaykum” (Peace be upon you), the letter focused heavily on the Israel-Gaza conflict, something he said has shocked the “Ummah” – a term for the global Islamic community – “to its core”.

“I, George Galloway, have fought for Muslims at home and abroad all of my life,” the letter read, adding that his victory would help “force out” Starmer, whom he described as a “top supporter of Israel”.

On the town’s historic issues regarding alleged Islamic “grooming” gangs, Galloway promised to “crack down” on any continuing systematic child-sex abuse in Rochdale.

“There will be no grooming gangs on my watch,” he said.

The populist politician’s position on NATO and the Ukraine war has also raised eyebrows. Galloway blames the current conflict on an alleged Western-backed coup against the country’s Russian-backed “elected government” in 2014, during the Ukrainian “Maidan Revolution”.

He has also been a prominent supporter of Irish MEP Clare Daly and her regular criticism of the European Union’s involvement in Ukraine, describing her as a modern day “Joan of Arc”.

Galloway added that Daly “speaks so powerfully, the walls of the European Parliament shake”, before lamenting that she received too little coverage for her opposition of the current conflict.

“Nobody ever reports the things that she says,” he said.

The pundit is also known for having once pretended to be a cat on a British national TV game show, a performance many internet commentators have described as being somewhat disturbing.