Only two weeks ago, Keir Starmer was gloating over his party’s pair of by-elections victories in Wellingborough and Kingswood. Now, however, the Labour leader has been left with a bloody nose in Rochdale, after losing this north-west seat to the tub-thumping leftwinger George Galloway.

Labour had held Rochdale since 2010 (barring a couple of years when Blairite reprobate and renegade Simon Danczuk – now standing for reactionary outfit Reform UK – sat as an independent).

But the party was left trailing in fourth place yesterday, as Galloway romped home with almost 40 percent of the vote, overturning Labour’s previous 10,000 strong majority.

Humiliating defeat

Starmer Image The CommunistThe result in itself is humiliating enough for Starmer / Image: The Communist

The result in itself is humiliating enough for Starmer. But compounding this embarrassment was a comically incompetent campaign, only trumped in terms of farce by the Glasgow Willy Wonka Experience, with Labour forced to withdraw support for their official candidate at the last minute, leaving them with no horse in the race.

The outcome in Rochdale strikingly reveals the massive disaffection and discontent towards all the traditional political parties.

There was a massive 19 point swing against the Tories, who were reduced to a miserable 7 percent. This shows that the Tory government is hated. But it also shows that Labour is not loved.

In fact, the combined vote of the Tories and Labour in Rochdale was less than half of that secured by Galloway. Only one-in-five voters backed one of the two major parties. The low turnout, at 37 percent, was a further indication of this same mood.

Sir Keir Starmer bears a huge responsibility for this ignominious defeat, in what had been a relatively safe Labour seat. His belligerent support for Israel and US imperialism have clearly alienated and scandalised vast numbers, not just in Rochdale.

Starmer has feebly attempted to cover up for his own disgraceful role in this travesty, using the miserable excuse that his party was not able to put up a proper candidate of its own.

But it is perhaps a piece of good luck for Labour that they did not put up a candidate representing Keir Starmer’s policies, or they would have lost even more votes.

The hollowness of his argument is clearly shown by the fact that second place was won by an independent, David Tully, a local shop owner. In fact, taken together, Galloway and Tully took over 60 percent – a stunning and unequivocal rejection of both Labour and the Tories.

There is no doubt who the main loser was, however: the ruling class’ coiffured champion, Sir Keir Starmer.

“Keir Starmer: this is for Gaza,” Galloway declared, beginning his victory speech in the early hours of this morning. “You have paid, and you will pay, a high price for the role you have played,” the new MP for Rochdale continued, “covering for the catastrophe presently going on in occupied Palestine.”

But this defeat is only the beginning of the troubles for Starmer – a harbinger of further explosive shocks for the Labour leader, and for the future government he hopes to head.

Striking contrast

Palestine demo Image The CommunistPalestine was front-and-centre of the veteran anti-war agitator’s campaign / Image: The Communist

As Galloway himself stated, the question of Gaza clearly played a key role in his victory.

Palestine was front-and-centre of the veteran anti-war agitator’s campaign. The distinctive red-black-white-and-green flag formed the backdrop for his banners, strung up around the town. And in all his street speeches and leaflets, Galloway correctly attacked Starmer’s Labour for its complicity in Netanyahu’s murderous crimes.

But this by-election was about more than just this one burning issue. It was a rejection of the entire political establishment and their arrogant antics; a kick in the face to all the Westminster warmongers.

At a time when haughty, out-of-touch MPs have been locking themselves in an ivory tower, complaining about the threat of “mob rule”, or decrying an “Islamist takeover”, Galloway has been making every effort to connect with ordinary people and their daily concerns.

As evidenced by the recent hysterical cries of the political elites, those currently occupying Parliament consider themselves to be beyond the reach of ordinary people. For them, constituents are at best an occasional chore to attend to; at worst, a noisy threat that might turn up on their doorstep, unsolicited, to protest over this-or-that inconvenient issue.

Instead of maintaining a lofty distance from local residents, Galloway took to the streets on the campaign trail, giving soapbox speeches in the town centre, and listening to the voices of those he was seeking to represent.

His campaign HQ was located at the heart of the community, not run by spin-doctors in London. Furthermore, in the wake of yesterday’s victory, he has promised to move to Rochdale, in order to be close to his new constituents.

While the Tories are planning what additional savage cuts to implement in their latest Budget, with Starmer piping in to say “me too!” to austerity, Galloway is pledging to “Make Rochdale Great Again”, with promises to reopen local healthcare facilities and restore the high street.

The contrast is striking, and will not have been lost on the residents of Rochdale – or on workers across the country.

Thorn in their side

Galloway Image fair useGalloway has been a perennial thorn in the side for the Labour right wing / Image: fair use

Galloway has been a perennial thorn in the side for the Labour right wing. He vocally attacked the old Blairite leaders for their imperialist adventures in Iraq, taking seats off the party in the process: first in Bethnal Green & Bow in 2005, and later in Bradford West in 2012.

Now, as MP for Rochdale, in the context of a burning anger against the British establishment for its role in the nightmare playing out in Gaza, he could become a rallying point in Parliament for the Palestine movement, denouncing both Sunak and Starmer, and exposing the blood they have on their hands.

Just at a time when MPs are attempting to hide from the public’s view, Galloway will be using every available opportunity to shine a spotlight on them and their crimes.

And his victory could embolden other pro-Palestine independents to run – and even win – in other constituencies, adding to the anti-war opposition in the House of Commons.

“This is going to spark a movement, a landslide, a shifting of the tectonic plates, in scores of parliamentary constituencies,” Galloway asserted earlier today, alluding to the prospect of other potential attempts to emulate his success in Rochdale.

But the anti-imperialist MP underlined that others could repeat his example in many areas of the country, not simply in places with large Muslim and Asian populations.

“Yes it’s true that every Muslim is bitterly angry,” Galloway explained, “but you would be very foolish [to think] that millions of other citizens aren’t too.”


Sunak Starmer Image The CommunistThis was not just a protest vote over Gaza, but an indication of the burning anger that exists everywhere / Image: The Communist

And that is precisely the point. This was not just a protest vote over Gaza, but an indication of the burning anger that exists everywhere towards the entire status quo, and the rotten ruling class that upholds it.

The liberal press has attempted to trivialise Galloway’s victory in Rochdale, suggesting that he only won because of the high number of Muslim voters, or because Labour wasn’t able to get its act together and stand a proper, ‘respectable’ candidate.

They paint him as a clown; as a loony lefty, who has simply duped the people of Rochdale with his boisterous charisma. But what these elitist hacks fail to see or understand is that it is precisely because he stands out against the backdrop of carbon copy capitalist politicians that Galloway strikes a chord with ordinary people.

Notably, Reform UK failed to make much of a dent in Rochdale, defying the expectations of chattering journalists. The revamped Brexit Party only came sixth, with 6.3 percent of the vote.

Standing the deviant Danczuk as their candidate probably didn’t do Reform any favours. But their failure to make a mark in Rochdale also highlights how a fiery left-wing alternative, where available, can mop-up much of the anti-establishment vote that may otherwise end up in their camp.

The public can see how Parliament is stuffed full of crooks and charlatans. Every day brings to light new scandals, revolving around degenerate MPs and their abuses, lies, and corruption. By comparison, figures like Galloway – speaking in plain language, not hypocritical cant – appear more approachable and down to earth.

But the liberal establishment and their mouthpieces will never be able to comprehend or accept this.

Malaise and anger

Occupy Tata Image The CommunistThe trade union leaders, meanwhile, have been noticeable by their absence / Image: The Communist

Galloway’s by-election win is the latest symptom of the deep malaise in society; of the anger that exists everywhere across Britain.

This has expressed itself in many ways over the past decade: from support for Scottish independence; to the rise of the Corbyn movement; to the Brexit vote; to the mass Black Lives Matter and climate protests; to the strike wave of 2022-23; to the tremendous uprising in solidarity with Palestine.

Added to these social and political earthquakes, in just the last couple of weeks, there has been the movement of the farmers in Wales, echoing their European counterparts – showing the depth and breadth of this discontent and rage.

But none of this finds an expression in the traditional organisations of the working class.

In fact, Galloway’s victory begs the question: why have the other ‘lefts’ completely failed to galvanise public anger against the political establishment? Why haven’t Jeremy Corbyn and co. been agitating more stridently over Palestine?

The trade union leaders, meanwhile, have been noticeable by their absence. In many cases, they have actively kept their members at bay from the Palestine solidarity movement. And on the industrial front, as at Port Talbot, they have consistently dragged their feet when it comes to fighting back against the Tories and the bosses.

In effect, they are waiting for a Labour government to come and save them. But Starmer is certainly no knight in shining armour for the working class. And to sow such illusions is criminal.

The Labour ‘lefts’ are little better. Most of them have largely become invisible since Starmer took over. More careerist types have become indistinguishable from the right.

All the while, the crisis of capitalism – and particularly of British capitalism – goes from bad to worse. And things won’t get any better under the next government, no matter who resides in Downing Street.

Storm the palaces!

demo Image The CommunistWorkers and youth have only just started / Image: The Communist

The Tories have a clever new strategy though: to sweep their problems under the carpet by banning unruly demonstrations; to turn Fortress Britain into Fortress Westminster, and erect ever bigger walls around Parliament to keep the masses at bay.

Netanyahu is reducing Gaza to rubble. The Tory government is slashing public services to pieces. Conservative MPs are whipping up racism against Muslims and migrants. Yet, according to Rishi Sunak, it is not these scoundrels, but those fighting against his reactionary programme who are the real “extremists”.

In turn, the Prime Minister has pledged, from now on, to be tough on protests – but not on the causes of protests.

Home secretary James Cleverly, similarly, has told persistent Palestine protestors that they’ve “made their point” now, and should pack up and go home.

But, in reality, workers and youth have only just started. Much more explosive events are yet to come.

So MPs locked away in their castle had better start digging a bigger moat. And for those looking to break down the gates, storm the palaces, and kick out these lords and ladies, we say: join the communists, get organised, and help us in the fight for socialist revolution.