"Keir Starmer, this is for Gaza," said the representative of the Workers Party of Britain.
British politician George Galloway warned the Labour Party leadership Thursday evening that his victory in the town of Rochdale's parliamentary election signaled "a shifting of the tectonic plates" following a campaign in which he vehemently defended Palestinian rights and condemned the U.K. government for backing Israel during its monthslong slaughter of civilians in Gaza.
"Keir Starmer, this is for Gaza," Galloway said after declaring victory, addressing the Labour Party leader. "You have paid and you will pay a high price for the role you have played in enabling, encouraging, and covering for the catastrophe presently going on... in the Gaza Strip."
Galloway easily won the by-election, which was called after the death of Labour MP Tony Lloyd in January, garnering 12,335 votes—nearly twice as many as the runner-up, independent candidate David Tully.
The Labour Party had run Azhar Ali, but pulled its support after he was heard saying Israel had "allowed" Hamas to attack the southern part of the country on October 7. The attack prompted the Israel Defense Forces to begin a relentless bombardment of Gaza that has now killed more than 30,000 people and implement a near-total blockade that has left at least a quarter of the population "one step" away from famine, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The fact that Israel knew of the battle plan for the Hamas-led attack has been widely reported.
Without the support of the party, Ali came in fourth in the by-election.
Galloway focused heavily on Gaza during his campaign, as well as a lack of healthcare services in impoverished Rochdale.
Having been forced out of the Labour Party in 2003 for his condemnation of the British and U.S. invasion of Iraq—referring to British Prime Minister Tony Blair as a "wolf" and urging the military to ignore orders that violated international law—Galloway ran as a member of the left-wing Workers Party of Britain.
His victory marks the first time the party will be represented in the House of Commons.
Galloway focused his campaign heavily in the Muslim community, which makes up about 30% of the population of Rochdale.
He told voters that his first move as a member of Parliament would be to "ask the prime minister to meet me urgently to hear from the frontline, what millions of British people think about what's happening in Gaza."
Starmer has expressed strong support for Israel since October, even as it has waged attacks on hospitals, refugee camps, and crowds of people trying to access humanitarian aid. The Labour leader waited until late February to call for a "cease-fire that lasts."
Galloway warned the Labour leader that his victory would "spark a movement" in the government of a country where two-thirds of the public in a recent poll said Israel should stop its bombardment and call a cease-fire.
"I want to tell Mr. Starmer above all, that the plates have shifted tonight," said Galloway.
Labour's support for "one of the great crimes of our age" led to Galloway's triumph in Rochdale, said journalist Owen Jones.
"His victory," Jones said, "shows how angry natural Labour voters are."