George Galloway, Leftist Firebrand, Wins U.K. Seat in Blow to Labour Party

A parliamentary district held recently by Britain’s main opposition Labour Party has slipped from its grip after a chaotic election campaign that became emblematic of the anger that has swept through British politics over the war in Gaza.

George Galloway, a left-wing firebrand, won the seat in Rochdale, north of Manchester, with 12,335 votes, according to official results announced early Friday. Voting had taken place on Thursday to replace Tony Lloyd, a Labour Party lawmaker who had represented the district but died of blood cancer in January.

Mr. Galloway, founder of the far-left Workers Party of Britain, once represented Labour in Parliament but was forced out of the party in 2003 over his outspoken criticism of the Iraq war.

In his campaign in Rochdale, Mr. Galloway appealed directly to the district’s Muslim voters, who make up around 30 percent of the electorate. Many of them are angry about the war in Gaza and want Britain to press harder for an immediate cease-fire.

In his campaign literature, Mr. Galloway described Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, as a “top supporter of Israel” and suggested his leadership could be weakened by the outcome of the vote. “Imagine — the people of Rochdale coming together to topple the hated Labour leader,” the leaflet added.

That prospect may be fanciful, as recent polling suggests Mr. Starmer is more popular with voters than any other leading politician in Britain. But Mr. Galloway’s victory followed a chaotic campaign for Labour. The party was forced to disown its own candidate, Azhar Ali, after a recording revealed that he had claimed that Israel had “allowed” Hamas to go ahead with the Oct. 7 attacks as a pretext to invade Gaza.

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