OPINION - The Standard View: Political division and rhetorical poison follow George Galloway wherever he goes

 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

It is always churlish to criticise voters for their decision in a democratic election, never more so than in Rochdale, where the choice was such a poor one.

It has led to the return of George Galloway to represent his fourth parliamentary seat — though the former Labour, Respect and now Workers Party MP only ever represents one constituency: himself.

As usual, Galloway, whose campaign focused on Gaza, won by seeking to divide a community about which he knows little, something he did in the East End of London and in Bradford.

Be in no doubt: Labour is responsible for this mess, having to withdraw support for its candidate, Azhar Ali, after he spouted wild antisemitic conspiracy theories at a party meeting.

A general election is only months away. Labour should get its act together and select a candidate whom it need not disown. Yet in the meantime, Galloway will gladly use his platform, and the legitimacy being an MP confers, to spread his brand of poisonous rhetoric.

Don’t tolerate hatred

A council meeting in Newham was halted yesterday when the borough’s only Jewish councillor, Joshua Garfield, was subjected to boos and hisses by pro-Palestinian activists in the public gallery during a debate.

It was alleged that those making noises were supporters of Newham Independents, the opposition group on the council. The party is led by ex-Labour member Mehmood Mirza, who was suspended by the party in 2020 after being accused of antisemitism.

What we are witnessing in Britain is people using a conflict taking place thousands of miles away to beat up, threaten and in this case abuse British Jews. It is not political speech but open hatred.

Antisemitic incidents are at a record high. Last year witnessed 4,103 instances of anti-Jewish hate, with incidents peaking in the week following the October 7 massacre, suggesting it was for many a celebration of the Hamas attack that prompted unprecedented levels of antisemitism.

The capital’s Jewish community is small and proud but fearful. Antisemitic chants and placards are a weekly occurrence. This will only end when police, politicians and ordinary Londoners decide they will no longer tolerate the oldest hatred.

Music’s big night

The Brits are back. The UK’s biggest night in music returns to the O2 Arena for an evening of celebration, glamour and, hopefully, a light dusting of drama.

Today’s paper runs the gamut on who we think will win versus who should win. Invariably, that leads to divergent answers. There might even be a female winner of artist of the year, after 2023’s embarrassingly male-dominated field.