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London Mayor Sadiq Khan says he would spoil his ballot in Rochdale by-election

Sadiq Khan (REUTERS)
Sadiq Khan (REUTERS)

Lifelong Labour voter Sadiq Khan says he would break with tradition and spoil his ballot paper if he was a resident of Rochdale in this week’s by-election.

“Frankly speaking, none of the candidates putting themselves forward, to me, should be in the House of Commons,” the Mayor of London said, following the Labour party’s repudiation of its candidate Azhar Ali.

“Because I believe in democracy and I believe in voting and the sacrifices made, I would go and vote,” Khan told the News Agents podcast. “I would go to the polling station and I would probably spoil my ballot paper.”

Ali’s main rival is George Galloway, a former Labour MP who broke with the party over the Iraq war and twice beat it in Bethnal Green (2005) and in Bradford (2012) under the Respect Party banner. He is now leader of the Workers Party of Britain.

“I’ve not seen the consequences of Azhar Ali but I’ve seen the consequences of Galloway,” said Khan, “what he did in East London and also in Bradford. But, you know, Azhar Ali should not be in the House of Commons, I think they’re both unfit to be parliamentarians and that’s why I would spoil my ballot paper.”

Labour disowned Azhar Ali after a video leaked in which he suggested that Israel had knowingly let the October 7th attacks happen. He will still be listed on Thursday as Labour’s candidate because it’s too late to replace him, according to Electoral Commission rules.

Galloway is currently the bookies’ favourite to win, in what has been described as “the most radioactive byelection in living memory”. He is up against Reform UK’s candidate Simon Danczuk, who was suspended from the Labour party in 2017 for sexting a 17-year-old girl.

Also on the ballot is the Green Party’s Guy Otten, who the party has distanced themselves from after Islamophobic social media posts from 2013-2015 surfaced. Rochdale voters say they have “tuned out” of local politics amid the chaos.