Following the ‘Rochdale Rising’: The Current Struggle for Workers’ Politics

Credits: The Independent

The Rochdale by-election on February 29 was a resounding rejection of the establishment and mainstream politics, with George Galloway securing a decisive victory. Galloway won with 39.7% of the vote, polling 12,335 votes, which was a significant blow to Keir Starmer’s New Labour Mark II.

In second place was local independent candidate David Tully, who campaigned on issues such as reinstating a maternity ward in the borough and funding for local sports and the Rochdale football club. Tully secured 21.3% of the vote, highlighting the desire for change among the electorate.

The traditional parties, including the Tories, Liberal Democrats, and Labour, fared poorly, mustering just 26.7% of the vote between them. This was a stark contrast to their combined 90% share in the 2019 general election.

Rochdale Rising Program (Credits: The Independent)

Notably, the Reform UK-Brexit Party candidate, former right-wing Labour MP Simon Danczuk, came in sixth with 1,968 votes (6.3%). This was less than what the Brexit Party won in 2019 when they came in third, showing a shift in voter sentiment.

The by-election results reflect a wider trend of disillusionment with mainstream politics. Labour’s recent victories in by-elections like Wellingborough and Kingswood, where they overturned large Tory majorities, were seen as a continuation of this trend.

However, the total number of votes Labour received in these by-elections was not significantly higher than in previous elections under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

The low turnout in these by-elections also reflects the disillusionment and anger with mainstream politicians. Turnout has fallen by an average of 28.1 points since 2019, indicating a growing disengagement with the political process.

While the coming general election may be seen as a ‘Labour landslide’ on paper, the reality is likely to be a low turnout, with many voters casting their ballots to defeat the Tories rather than out of genuine support for Labour.

This highlights the need for a new approach to politics that addresses the concerns of ordinary people and offers a real alternative to the status quo.

I'm Richard Rosales, I cover political news and ongoing US elections.