Galloway targets Rayner’s seat

Galloway promises to work with SNP to force another vote on Gaza, compares Israel’s actions to the Holocaust…reports Asian Lite News

George Galloway has said he will target more seats in the next general election including the deputy Labour leader’s after his swearing-in at Westminster following last week’s Rochdale byelection victory.

Speaking outside parliament, Galloway singled out Angela Rayner’s constituency of Ashton-under-Lyne, where she is defending a majority of 4,263, as an example of where his Workers Party of Britain, or a candidate backed by it, could cause havoc for her chances of re-election.

“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, either a Workers party candidate or more likely an independent camp candidate that we support, and that will vitally affect the election of the nearby deputy leader,” he said.

“And there are many constituencies in London, from Ilford to Bethnal Green in the heart of the City of London, in Birmingham, in other parts of the West Midlands, in north-west England, in the towns around Rochdale, Oldham, Blackburn, Burnley, Nelson, Bury. We’ll be putting candidates up in all these places and we will either win or we will make sure that Keir Starmer doesn’t.”

Earlier on Monday afternoon Galloway was sworn in and escorted into the Commons chamber by two sponsors, the Conservative MP and father of the house, Peter Bottomley, and Neale Hanvey of Scotland’s Alba party.

Galloway, a former Labour MP, promised to work with the Scottish National party to force another vote on Gaza, compared Israel’s actions to the Holocaust and predicted his party and other independents would tap into anger over the conflict to alter the course of the election.

He was watched from the public gallery by his wife, Putri Gayatri Pertiwi, and a small group of others including James Giles, a London councillor who leads the Kingston Independent Residents party and was involved in the Rochdale campaign.

Galloway, who won almost 40% of the vote in last Thursday’s vote after a campaign centred on the conflict in Gaza, held a copy of the Bible as he swore an oath of allegiance to the king, before shaking hands with the speaker of the House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle, and leaving the chamber.

Speaking afterwards to the media, Galloway borrowed from a Trumpian political slogan, saying: “It’s my job to try to make Rochdale great again.” He said he would attempt to speak either during prime minister’s questions or in the debate on the chancellor’s budget statement on Wednesday.

He chided journalists for their coverage of his campaign and his focus on Gaza, saying: “If the byelection had been in February of 1940 or 41 would anyone seriously have condemned me for putting the crimes of the Holocaust at the centre of my election campaign?

“And yet the same fourth estate seemed or pretended to find it inexplicable that I would put a genocide in Gaza in front of the voters in a byelection in 2024.”

Galloway also took aim at Rishi Sunak, claiming the prime minister had really just been “speaking about Muslims” during his address outside Downing Street in which the Conservative leader warned of a threat to democracy. This was the imminent theme of his election campaign, said Galloway, who accused Sunak’s party of “whipping up Islamophobic racist fervour” with the assistance of the broadcaster GB News.

His return to the Commons means he will have represented five different constituencies: Glasgow Hillhead, Glasgow Kelvin, Bethnal Green and Bow, Bradford West, and Rochdale.

Earlier, Galloway had struck a defensive note as he arrived at Westminster, saying: “I’ve always loved the building – the people in it not quite so much.”

Mirroring that view, Conservative minister Bim Afolami told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “We’re going to have to endure him and that is really the fault of the Labour party.”

Galloway was sworn in by the Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle before business got under way in the House of Commons. He was escorted by the Father of the House Peter Bottomley and Neale Hanvey, the Westminster Leader of the Alba Party.

Galloway won a clear victory in Thursday’s by-election, which had seen Labour withdraw support for candidate Azhar Ali over remarks widely alleged to be antisemitic.

Mainstream parties were beaten into third place after a chaotic campaign, sparked by the death of Labour MP Sir Tony Lloyd, with independent and local businessman Dave Tully taking second place.

Galloway has previously been an MP for Labour until 2003. He then sat in the Commons as an independent and Respect Party MP for three constituencies between 2003 and 2015.

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