George Galloway recently won the Rochdale by-election after his campaign team claimed the former Labour and Respect MP would win “comfortably”.

This proved to be the case as the Workers Party of Great Britain leader received just under 40% of the vote.

In his victory speech, Mr Galloway began by focusing on Palestine, saying: “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.”

He said he would put Rochdale councillors “on notice” that he intended to form a “grand alliance” to “clean the town hall up” at the local elections in May.

Who is George Galloway?

Raised in Dundeee, Mr Galloway was active in the Labour party as a teenager and at the age of 26 he was the chairman of the party in Scotland. 

He was first elected as a Labour MP in 1987 and expelled from the party in 2003 over his outspoken opposition to the Iraq war.

Mr Galloway made a comeback as a Respect Party MP, unseating Labour in Bethnal Green and Bow in 2005 and in Bradford West in 2012.

He has enjoyed support from some left-wing groups for his staunch support of Palestinian causes, but has been accused of "stoking division and using sexist, homophobic and antisemitic language by his opponents."

Never straying far from controversy, Mr Galloway was ridiculed for his impersonation of a cat on Celebrity Big Brother in 2006.

Palestine has been a major theme of his political career and formed the cornerstone of his campaign in Rochdale, which also featured personal attacks on Labour leader Sir Keir.

Labour withdrew support for its candidate, Azhar Ali, after a recording emerged in which he claimed Israel was complicit in the terrorist attacks of October 7, seeing Mr Galloway become the firm favourite for the seat.

Mr Ali remained listed as the Labour candidate as the party’s decision came too late for ballot papers to be changed.

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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 Labour Party will quickly begin 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.”