Monday 5 February 2024


The death of Labour's Tony Lloyd last month sparked a by-election that was rapidly scheduled for the 29th of February.  Labour hit the ground running, selecting Rochdale councillor Azhar Ali as their candidate before Mr Lloyd was even cold.  Nomination papers are already in for all candidates, weeks ahead of Lloyd's funeral.

Last week Cllr Ali appeared in a video posted to Twitter, alongside Manchester Gorton MP Afzal Khan.  Ali addresses the camera in English, which is followed by a translation from Khan into Urdu.  This shock video formed the basis of our latest YouTube effort (click below).

Labour's reliance on the block Muslim vote is well documented, but for a candidate to produce a video in the national language of Pakistan for a by-election in England shows a damning lack of integration for a community already viewed with suspicion following repeated rape gang convictions.

Labour are odds-on favourites to win the Rochdale by-election, a seat they have held since 2010.  Prior to that the seat changed hands several times between Labour and the Lib Dems throughout the 90s and 00s.  Labour's majority in 2019 was 9,668 over the second placed Conservatives.

Second place this time around is anyone's guess, with George Galloway out for revenge and likely to whip up his own Muslim support by putting the politics of the Middle East front and centre of his campaign.  Galloway is not the only former Labour MP standing with vengeance in mind.  Eyebrows were raised when Reform UK selected Simon Danczuk as their candidate.  Danczuk was Labour MP for Rochdale between 2010 and 2017, although he had the party whip withdrawn in 2015 after it emerged that he had exchanged explicit messages with a 17-year-old.

The full roster of eleven candidates is as follows.

Azhar Ali (Lab)
Mark Coleman (Ind)
Simon Danczuk (RefUK)
Iain Donaldson (LDem)
Paul Ellison (Con)
George Galloway (Workers)
Michael Howarth (Ind)
William Howarth (Ind)
Guy Otten (Grn)
Ravin Subortna (Loon)
David Tully (Ind)

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