Anti-Zionist and far-left politician George Galloway’s victory in the Rochdale by-election has sent shockwaves across Britain’s Jewish community. ‘This is for Gaza,’ the veteran anti-Israel campaigner proclaimed from the podium at the announcement of his victory, before promising to ‘wipe Rochdale’s Town Council clean’.

Galloway’s win in the heavily-Muslim constituency was convincing, with a majority of almost 6,000 – almost 40% of the vote. This by-election was very much centred around the Israel-Hamas conflict, with the veteran politician being dubbed the nickname, ‘Gaza George’.

Galloway has an “atrocious record” of antisemitism, including in Bradford in 2014 when he called for the city to become an “Israel-free zone”. He also blamed previous election losses on the “venal, the vile, the racists and the Zionists.” After 7 October, Galloway described 7 October as a “concentration camp breakout” and Hamas terrorists as “fighters”.

The outcome of Thursday’s by-election shows a lot about the state of Britain. Rochdale doesn’t represent the whole of the UK, of course, but Galloway will now sit in Parliament until at least the next election. It also reveals a number of warnings that should be harkened by all those concerned about this nation.

Firstly, it is a reminder that the pro-Palestinian movement unites two unlikely bedfellows: the hard-left and the Muslim community. This isn’t a new realisation. We saw it during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership; we see it at the many pro-Palestinian protests, and we see it already in Westminster politics. But it hasn’t destabilised Britain’s mainstream governance – yet. If the Israel-Gaza becomes a key voting matter in the next election, more anti-Israel candidates could enter Parliament.

Secondly, it highlights the significance of the Muslim vote in the next general election. A recent poll showed that 85% of Muslims will decide how they vote based on the Israel-Gaza conflict. On this basis, the Rochdale outcome is unsurprising – the Muslim population in Rochdale is 20%. The concern isn’t that Galloway is simply appealing to a Muslim vote, but his values are aligned an Islamist ideology – and it has gained popularity among Muslims and the hard-left.

Thirdly, it exposes the problems that still exist in the Labour party. CUFI is not party-political, so views expressed should not be interpreted as endorsements. However, it is clear that George Galloway’s victory would have been less likely if Labour didn’t have a problem with antisemitism within its ranks. This is because Labour, which was originally expected to win the seat, had to withdraw support for its candidate over antisemitism. Azhar Ali was rebuked after being recorded at a meeting claiming that Israel had deliberately dropped its defence on 7 October in order to create a pretext for invading Gaza.

Galloway goaded Starmer in his acceptance speech: “Keir Starmer – this is for Gaza. And you will pay a high price, in enabling, encouraging and covering for, the catastrophe presently going on in occupied Palestine in the Gaza strip.”
He added: “This is going to spark a movement, a landslide, a shifting of the tectonic plates in scores of parliamentary constituencies.”

In an interview with Sky News, Galloway was asked if he believed Israel had the “right to exist.”

He responded: ”No state has the right to exist, not the Soviet Union…. not the Zionist apartheid state of Israel.”

He also justified the “From The River To The Sea” chant used by Palestine campaigners adding:”I think there should be one democratic and secular state between the river and the sea.”

He added:”If I was doing their marketing I’d call it the Holy Land.”

Meanwhile, the disgraced former MP Chris Williamson, now deputy leader of Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain, appeared on television after the vote was announced to claim that Israel was killing more people each day in Gaza than were killed in the Auschwitz Nazi death camp. This, of course, is a complete fallacy.

Galloway earlier 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.

In a statement, the Board of Deputies of British Jews said: “George Galloway is a demagogue and conspiracy theorist who has brought the politics of division and hate to every place he has ever stood for parliament.

“His election is a dark day for the Jewish community in this country and for British politics in general.”

The Jewish Rep Councillor Greater Manchester and Region added: “Community cohesion is coming under unprecedented pressure.

“It is now more important than ever that people concentrate on building bridges by ensuring a conflict taking place thousands of miles away is not used as an excuse to target Jewish people across the region”.

Jewish Leadership Council director of public affairs Russell Langer added: “George Galloway has made a career out of the politics of division and has once again used a by-election to exploit fault lines in community tension.

“It will be worrying to many in the community that he will now have a platform in parliament again to spread further his hatred.”