Election 24

General election 2024: Who is standing in Rochdale?

Rochdale presents one of the most interesting and important contests in the general election tomorrow.

The area is in the political spotlight following the dramatic by-election a few months ago, which saw George Galloway’s landslide victory.

Mr Galloway, representing the Workers Party of Britain, secured a huge victory with a 5,697 vote majority, while Azhar Ali, the Labour candidate embroiled in controversy whose support from the party was withdrawn, finished fifth.

Local independent candidate David Tully came second – although Mr Tully is not standing this time round.

This time, Mr Galloway is up against Labour’s Paul Waugh, Conservative Paul Ellison, Liberal Democrat Andy Kelly, Reform candidate Michael Howard, and Green candidate Martyn Savin.

Workers Party, George Galloway

George Galloway is Rochdale’s incumbent MP, and the leader of the Workers Party of Britain.

Mr Galloway was a former Labour Party member, becoming the youngest ever chair of the Scottish Labour Party in 1981, and then MP for Glasgow Hillhead in 1987.

He was expelled from the Labour Party in 2003 over opposition to the Iraq War and has since won re-election firstly for the Respect Party and now for the Workers Party.

Mr Galloway’s most important position, alongside his party, is support for the Palestinian cause.

Other than this, Mr Galloway and his party stand on a platform of socialist, anti-imperialist and socially conservative policies.

He is accused of being divisive and opportunistic by his opponents for running his campaign on Gaza (amongst many other things), however supporters claim it is the most important issue of our times.

They also counter that Mr Galloway has also worked on local issues for Rochdale such as reopening the town’s maternity ward – though he was challenged on this by ITV.

For more information, and to see why he is so controversial, read our full profile of Mr Galloway here.

Labour Party, Paul Waugh

Following the disaster at the Rochdale by-election with Azhar Ali, it was vital that Labour picked a better candidate for this election.

The party has gone with Paul Waugh, a former senior Westminster journalist who was the Chief Political Commentator at the i newspaper, Political Editor at HuffPost UK, and has had roles at PoliticsHome, The Independent, and the Evening Standard.

Mr Waugh claims he has a “strong record on Palestinian rights”, but many Muslim and young voters remain very angry with Labour over their support for Israel after 7 October.

Labour also refuse to commit to ending arms sales to Israel, which will not help Mr Waugh nor other Labour candidates in seats such as this.

However, Mr Waugh has sought to make the election about other issues such as the rebuilding the NHS and defeating Mr Galloway.

Reform Party, Mike Howard

Mike Howard has stated he does not do media, and it is therefore difficult to information about him specifically.

However Reform has run its campaign nationally on freezing non-essential immigration, raising the income tax threshold and opposing ‘woke’ ideology.

Conservative Party, Paul Ellison

Nationally, the Conservative Party is likely heading towards electoral oblivion after 14 years in government.

This gives Tory candidate Paul Ellison a herculean task to defeat the Workers Party and Labour.

Mr Ellison is a local man who runs a landscaping business, is the former Rochdale Man of the Year, and has been involved in community initiatives in the town for over 30 years.

However it would be truly shocking if the Conservatives made any gain from their 2019 result, where they received 31% of the vote.

Liberal Democrats, Andy Kelly

Andy Kelly has lived in Rochdale his entire life, attending local schools and studying through the Open University.

Elected as a councillor for Milnrow in 2010, he became the group leader of Rochdale Liberal Democrats in 2012.

His main campaign pledge is to open a constituency office in the town centre, accessible to people seven days a week.

Green Party, Martyn Savin

The Green Party candidate is 65-year-old Martyn Savin who was born and raised in Rochdale, residing in Milnrow.

He has worked in engineering and spent 20 years working as an aircraft fitter at BAE Systems.

Mr Savin has previously ran in local elections and focuses on key Green issues such as social and economic justice, renationalisation of utilities, proportional representation and, of course, the environment.

Feature image: Rochdale Town Centre from the air. © Copyright Thomas Nugent and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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