Anti-Israel candidates defeat Labour in several seats, but Galloway booted out in Rochdale

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Anti-Israel candidates defeat Labour in several seats, but Galloway booted out in Rochdale

Sir Keir Starmer's party faced setbacks in the local elections in some previously safe areas, particularly those with large Muslim populations.

George Galloway takes seat in Commons. He was an MP on this occasion for less than five months. (pic Hoc)
George Galloway takes seat in Commons. He was an MP on this occasion for less than five months. (pic Hoc)

While the Labour Party’s position on Gaza has not dented its landslide General Election win, several of its candidates lost to independent challengers campaigning on a pro-Palestine platform.

Sir Keir Starmer was also heckled with shouts of “Free Palestine” both at the polling station in his Holborn and St Pancras constituency and at his election count as he was declared to have won his seat.

Labour frontbencher Jonathan Ashworth was unseated by an independent in Leicester South.

Ashworth, the shadow paymaster general who has made media appearances for the party during Labour’s election campaign, was defeated by independent candidate Shockat Adam.

His main policies include “standing for global peace and justice”, and he writes on his website: “I will champion Leicester’s values of global peace and justice, which have been neglected by the current government. Our constituency MP refused to vote for a ceasefire to end the bloodshed in Gaza, resulting in the needless deaths of thousands of innocent civilians.”

In Dewsbury and Batley, independent candidate Iqbal Mohamed, whose key focus areas include a ceasefire and peace agreement in Gaza, beat the Labour candidate Heather Iqbal.

In Blackburn, Labour’s Kate Hollern lost to Adnan Hussain, who said in his online statement to voters: “I promise to make your concerns against the injustice being inflicted against the people of Gaza be heard in the places where our so-called representatives failed.”

Labour’s Jess Phillips meanwhile narrowly managed to hold onto her Birmingham Yardley seat, scraping 11,275 votes compared to the 10,582 won by Workers Party candidate Jody McIntyre.

But in Birmingham Perry Barr, Labour’s Khalid Mahmood lost the seat to independent Ayoub Khan by 507 votes.

Birmingham Live previously reported Mr Khan was one of several candidates in the city who wanted to stand in the election “with a strong emphasis on the Gaza situation”.

Labour’s Paul Waugh meanwhile won Rochdale from Workers Party leader George Galloway, just months after he won the seat in a shock by-election dominated by the Gaza war.

Galloway, a former Labour and Respect member, swept to victory in Rochdale in February gaining almost 40% of the vote.

Palestine has been a major theme of Mr Galloway’s political career, throughout which he has voiced ferocious opposition to British and US foreign policies, both in the Middle East and, more recently, in their support for Ukraine.

Ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile ran as an independent and successfully retained his long-held seat of Islington North in London. He beat his Labour rival by more than 7,000 votes.

He has long been a pro-Palestine voice and his platform included demanding an end to the occupation of Palestinian Territories.

Independent candidate Faiza Shaheen blamed Labour for letting former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith win in Chingford and Woodford Green, saying the vote was split between her and her Labour challenger.

Shaheen was dropped by Labour as its candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green after liking a series of posts on social media platform X that allegedly downplayed antisemitism allegations.

She wrote on X: “Our vote was a combination of those appalled by how I was treated, those who took issue with having an imposed candidate who didn’t know us, those who were never going to vote Labour after Starmer’s stance on Gaza, and those that have never voted before.

“Labour split the vote the moment they deselected me.”

Sir Keir’s position on the Gaza conflict has previously caused unease among some in his party, with the leader facing criticism for not calling for an immediate ceasefire sooner.

In its manifesto, the Labour party committed to recognising a Palestinian state.

The Labour Party faced setbacks in the local elections in some previously safe areas, particularly those with large Muslim populations.

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