Rochdale by-election: glimmer of hope or a cause for concern?

Rochdale by-election: glimmer of hope or a cause for concern?

A by-election took place in Rochdale last week, and the media has made a great deal of how George Galloway ‘thumped’ both Labour and Conservatives to become the first MP in the House Of Commons representing his ‘Workers Party of Britain’.

I have mixed feelings about this result, while it is great to see the ‘legacy’ Establishment parties get the trouncing they deserve, I do have concerns about how this all came about, which I’ll try and explain below.

The media have already gone into some detail about the background behind this election, and of course George Galloway himself, so I won’t go over too much of what has already been written.

Basically George Galloway is ex-Labour, a hard-left socialist, and a well-known political opportunist.

Rochdale is an area with a high Muslim population, and being the opportunist he is, he chose to base his election campaign around the issue of Gaza and Palestine, in an attempt to ‘win’ Muslim votes from Labour.

Labour of course ‘disowned’ their own candidate Azhar Ali after he made some apparent ‘anti-semitic remarks’, and while he appeared on the ballot paper as Labour’s candidate, in the event he had won he would have been forced to sit as an independent MP, as it was too late for Labour to replace him.

Who do MPs represent?

My main cause for concern in this election is what the electorate were voting for.

George Galloway vowed to “shake the walls for Gaza” if he won the seat in the House Of Commons.

Mr Galloway is mainly targeting Rochdale’s Muslim population, who make up about 30% of the electorate, many of whom are angry about what is happening in Gaza.

“The people of Gaza don’t have a vote in this election, you do,” reads one of his campaign leaflets.

At a meeting at the town’s Kashmir Youth Project, he says that, if elected, he will “enter the chamber of the House of Commons like a tornado” and “shake the walls for Gaza”.

He claims a victory for him in Rochdale, a small town near Manchester, will be noticed “by the people in Gaza, by the people in Tel Aviv, but most importantly by the front benches in Parliament.”

“Rochdale: Is this the most chaotic by-election ever?” – BBC News, 24th Feb 2024

I’ve always been under the impression that people vote for a Member of Parliament to represent them in the House Of Commons. Not to represent people living thousands of miles away in another country, who are not in any way under the jurisdiction of our own Government.

I get that people are passionate about the plight of the people of Gaza and Palestine, but sometimes I really wish people could be as passionate and animated about the plight of poor suffering people in our own country.

Labour in conflict

In certain areas of the country, including my own city of Birmingham, Labour has easily won seats at elections by pandering to the ‘Muslim vote’.

Since the events in October last year though, Labour seems almost on the point of a split, and the divisions within the party are becoming exposed rapidly.

Much of their core Muslim voter base are pretty much ‘pro-Palestine’, and angry at Labour’s failure to take any meaningful stance. Which stems from the fact that pretty much most of the ‘elite’ at the top of the Labour party hierarchy are pretty much ‘pro-Israel’ and firmly in the back pockets of the Israeli lobby groups, who also have grubby paws in the other Establishment political parties via their “Friends Of Israel” groups, keen to push and promote the interests of Israel above those of the British people.

In the end, it was no surprise to me that George Galloway and his Workers Party won this by-election, as I warned about this on the David Icke forum a few weeks ago.

The recent Gaza/Israel conflict has highlighted a very real division within the Labour party and its members. Starmer’s failure to stand up to the Friends Of Israel lobbyists could potentially see much of their core voter base, ie Muslims, happily give their vote to any new party that pledged to ‘free Palestine’ in its manifesto.
If some ‘Islamic Party’ could get approved by the Electoral Commission  and established ahead of the next General Election, I think we could be in for a surprise – and if so I would doubt that Starmer would even last one term.

The concern

In previous articles here, I have expressed concerns that democracy is being undermined or even undervalued due to low voter turnouts at elections.

Voter apathy suits the Establishment Lib/Lab/Con uni-party because it means they need fewer votes overall from ‘loyal’ supporters to maintain the status quo, while everyone else “fed up with politics” just stays at home and doesn’t bother to vote.

But on the other hand, as we saw in Rochdale just last week, it doesn’t take much for a large number of people to suddenly turn out in great numbers to vote for some other candidate.

George Galloway himself has boasted of aiming to stand 50-60 candidates for his Workers Party at the next election, which doesn’t sound a lot in the grand scheme of things, but if those candidates also stand in Labour-dominated areas with high Muslim populations, you could quite easily see a good number taking up seats in the Commons.

Suddenly the idea of a Labour landslide at the next General Election starts to seem unlikely!

But equally, the prospect of some ‘Islamic Party’ being set up and gaining seats is of equal concern, just as much as some fringe Communist or ‘radical far-right’ party would be. Imagine being able to secure control of the country’s government with a minority of the vote! But in truth, that is the reason why the Conservatives and Labour have shared control and power for so long.

A glimmer of hope

While the media have made a big song and dance over George Galloway’s victory, I am almost pleased that some smaller party has been able to win a greater vote share over the legacy Establishment parties, even if I don’t agree with him or his policies.

What much of the media have overlooked though, is that the second placed candidate also won a bigger share of the vote than the other legacy parties, despite standing as an independent.

Local businessman Dave Tully said he was standing in the election to “be a voice for the people of Rochdale across every community that wants to do good”.

He said he was calling for the reinstatement of Rochdale’s maternity ward, wanted more financial support for local businesses and would champion the community benefits of local amateur sports clubs including the rugby league club Rochdale Mayfield, where he is a committee member.

He added: “As an independent with no allegiance to any of the parties or any political views or opinions, I just want to do the best for my town and my community. That’s basically what I want to achieve. That’s what I’m going to advocate.”

“Rochdale by-election: Candidates list” – BBC News, 12th Feb 2024

It takes incredible guts to stand for an election as an independent candidate, without the financial support and backing of a political party. And it also takes courage and determination for people to go out and vote for these independents.

It pleases me and gives me optimism that for whatever reasons, people went out in numbers and voted for George Galloway or David Tully, rather than just putting their ‘X’ in the box of the Labour or Tory candidate, as they would probably normally do.

I know this was only a by-election, and not a General Election, but this gives me some hope that the people can vote for ‘real change’ if they really want to, by rejecting the legacy Establishment parties and voting for someone else instead.