Labour Party 'shaken' by George Galloway win, particularly in Scotland - Michael Portillo

Sir Keir Starmer and Michael Portillo

Labour are 'shaken' by Galloway's win, says Michael Portillo

Ben Chapman

By Ben Chapman

Published: 01/03/2024

- 09:36

Galloway said Starmer will 'pay a high price'

The Labour Party will be shaken by George Galloway’s resounding victory in the Rochdale by-election, according to Michael Portillo.

The former Tory Cabinet Minister spoke on GB News about what ramifications the development could have for Sir Keir Starmer, with Scotland earmarked as a possible headache for the Labour leader.

“The Labour Party might be quite shaken by this, in Scotland in particular”, he said.

“In Scotland, if you are to the left of the Labour Party and you are more in favour of an unconditional ceasefire in Gaza, you have somewhere else to go, the SNP.


“You don’t have that in England.”

Labour had been expected to win the by-election triggered by the death of Labour MP Tony Lloyd, but its campaign was thrown into disarray by a leaked recording of Ali’s inflammatory remarks about Israel, seeing Galloway become the firm favourite for the seat.


Galloway opened his victory speech by addressing Palestine, saying Keir Starmer will “pay a high price” for “enabling the catastrophe presently going on in the occupied Palestine in the Gaza Strip”.

A Labour spokesperson said: “We deeply regret that the Labour party was unable to field a candidate in this by-election and apologise to the people of Rochdale. George Galloway only won because Labour did not stand.

“Rochdale deserved the chance to vote for an MP that would bring communities together and deliver for working people. George Galloway is only interested in stoking fear and division. As an MP he will be a damaging force in our communities and public life.

“The Labour Party will quickly begin the process to select a new Labour candidate for the general election, and will be campaigning hard to deliver the representation and fresh start that Rochdale deserves.”

George GallowayGeorge Galloway built his campaign around the Gaza conflictPA
Richard Tice

Richard Tice says 'menacing behaviour' took place in Rochdale


Galloway’s majority of 5,697 amounted to 18.3 per cent of the total, on a turnout of 39.7 per cent.

The turnout was slightly higher than the two recent by-elections in Wellingborough and Kingswood, where Labour came out on top.

Reform UK Richard Tice condemned the campaign, claiming “menacing behaviour” was a key feature.

He said: “This by-election and result should act as a serious wake-up call to those in power and indeed to the entire electorate.

“We are supposed to be a beacon of democracy, this shameful contest has been more characteristic of a failed state.”

Galloway denied his supporters had engaged in any intimidation, and claimed on Sky News that Tice had invited him to be a Reform UK candidate in a recent by-election.

He added that he hoped he would be introduced to the Commons by Conservative former minister Sir David Davis and the former Labour leader, and now independent MP, Jeremy Corbyn.

A spokesperson for the charity Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “George Galloway has an atrocious record of baiting the Jewish community.”

They added: “Given his historic inflammatory rhetoric and the current situation faced by the Jewish community in this country, we are extremely concerned by how he may use the platform of the House of Commons in the remaining months of this Parliament.”

You may like