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Rochdale byelection confirms dissatisfaction but little else is certain

Rochdale byelection confirms dissatisfaction but little else is certain

Rochdale byelection confirms dissatisfaction but little else is certain
Mar 01, 2024 57 secs

Not only did the combined share of the vote for the Conservatives and Labour drop by 63 percentage points – the worst result for the big two since the wartime byelections of 1941-45 – but the Liberal Democrats, Greens and Reform UK all slipped as well.

There are only 17 constituencies with a higher proportion of Muslim residents than Rochdale’s 30.5%, two of which – Bethnal Green and Bow and Bradford West – have already had the experience of being represented by Galloway.

Nobody else has the track record of electoral success, the network of support and the personal celebrity built in non-traditional media with wide reach among youth and minority populations.

Labour is vulnerable in a few heavily Muslim constituencies, but will be spared from significant losses by the limited supply of viable Independent or small party challengers.

Galloway was a more convincing populist than Reform UK’s Simon Danczuk; he even echoed Trump in his literature, calling to “make Rochdale great again”.

Galloway is unique in modern politics for having represented four entirely different constituencies – in Glasgow, east London, Bradford and now Rochdale – but it is a distinction he shares with another Labour renegade, Ramsay MacDonald.

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