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George Galloway Eyes Key Labour Seats After Being Sworn Into Commons

George Galloway is sworn into the House of Commons (Alamy)

5 min read

George Galloway has said he will target key Labour seats at the next general election after he was sworn in to the Commons on Monday having secured a by-election victory for the far-left Workers Party of Britain in Rochdale on Friday.

The former MP for Labour and Respect parties, and one-time Celebrity Big Brother contestant won comfortably in the previously Labour safe seat with a majority of 5,697, securing 12,335 votes overall.

The by-election was triggered when veteran Labour MP and former interim Manchester mayor, Tony Lloyd, died in-post at the age of 73 in January.

Galloway formally took his seat in the House of Commons and took the oath on Monday afternoon. 

“I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles, his heirs and successors, according to law, so help me God,” he said. 

In a press conference outside the Commons immediately after the ceremony, Galloway said he believed Parliament had declined over the last few decades and claimed he will have much to say about the state of the country and international situation.

Having made the conflict in Gaza a central tenet of his campaign in Rochdale, Galloway – a longtime supporter of the Palestinian cause – told reporters the next election would be about "Muslims". He also claimed his Workers Party would specifically target Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner's seat when fielding candidates for the next general election. Rayner has a majority of 4,263 in Ashton-under-Lyne, which like Rochdale, has a large muslim population. 

"There's at least 15,000 supporters of my point of view in her constituency. So we'll be putting a candidate up against her," he said.

He felt he had been welcomed by the staff of Parliament, but not MPs. Galloway said the country was at a "very dangerous crossroads" which was as perilous as any time since the summer and autumn of 1940 and 1941.

“There's no Mr. Churchill in this picture. There's no one it seems able to step forward and steady the ship of state, and begin to rally, unite, our people, to face what is a very difficult future," he claimed.

"Poverty stalks the land. Child poverty, in particular. My constituency of Rochdale is one of the poorest in the whole country where once Rochdale was one of the richest towns in the whole country."

Father of the House Peter Bottomley, Conservative MP for Worthing West, and Neale Hanvey, Alba Party MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, introduced Galloway to the lower chamber.

It was earlier reported that former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who now sits as an independent, would introduce Galloway to the Commons, but PoliticsHome understands Corbyn was engaged with a long-planned visit at a community garden in Islington North which helped people with disabilities and those recovering from mental illness.

George Galloway
George Galloway spoke to reporters after he was sworn into Parliament (Alamy)

At this afternoon's press conference, Galloway said that Corbyn had initially agreed to be his sponsor but the former Labour leader had a "long standing commitment". 

Bottomley said he was "doing his duty" by swearing in Galloway. Claudia Webbe, the independent MP for Leicester East told PoliticsHome she had also had conversations with Galloway's team about swearing him in. 

Former cabinet minister David Davis told the Sun on Sunday he would have helped re-introduce Galloway to the House of Commons on free speech grounds. However he decided against it when Galloway’s deputy, Chris Williamson, who was suspended by the Labour Party in 2019, refused to condemn the 7 October terrorist attacks in Israel. 

Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle met with Galloway on Monday morning for a private meeting prior to the swearing in. 

A number of Labour MPs who served in the Commons when Galloway was the MP for Bradford West between 2012-15 were concerned by Galloway's return. A Labour shadow minister told PoliticsHome they believed Galloway will be “massively provocative and unhelpful on Gaza” in the House of Commons.

“It will be interesting to see if he actually does the work in Rochdale on local issues, but that would be a first,” they said.

They believed he was in some ways a very conservative candidate and did not believe young women on the Left of the Party were likely to engage with him. “I can’t see him being very progressive on things like gender ID,” they said.

Another Labour MP said they believed the Labour Left would not have any time for Galloway.

“He talks to one audience in one way or another audience in another way,” they said. “No one in the Labour party will have truck with him.”

One Labour MP told PoliticsHome on Friday they felt "less safe as a consequence of the election result" in Rochdale. "The last thing Parliament needs is an MP who lives for controversy and creating divisions," they said. 

On Friday evening following Galloway's election, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the government will introduce a new framework for dealing with extremism in the UK, as he declared that "our democracy itself is a target" for threats posed by extremist groups.

Sunak delivered a speech outside No10 on Friday evening, stating that he felt the need to address the nation after the by-election in Rochdale. 

Labour apologised for the by-election result, claiming Galloway was “only interested in stoking fear and division” and won because Labour did not have a candidate running in the seat.

Sunak said it was "beyond alarming" that the Rochdale election returned a candidate who he believed dismissed "the horror of what happened on October the 7th". 

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