Danczuk expresses fears of trouble ahead of Rochdale poll

Trouble may be ahead as the final full week of campaigning in the Rochdale by-election begins, according to one candidate and former MP.

Simon Danczuk, the ex-Labour MP for Rochdale – now standing as the Reform Party candidate, says he has found the atmosphere has changed in the time since he last ran for office.

“I’ve been out of politics for five years or so and I’ve come back in and – is the word febrile?” he said.

Simon Danczuk and his wife Coco
Simon Danczuk and his wife Coco (James Speakman/PA)

Mr Danczuk said the election on February 29 is a two-horse race between him and bookies’ favourite, George Galloway, another former Labour MP, then Respect Party MP, now of the Workers Party of Britain.

Mr Galloway’s campaign hopes to garner the votes of the sizeable Muslim population in the town, angry at the conflict in Gaza and the response of both the Government and Labour Party.

Mr Galloway’s campaigners say 15,000 votes are enough to win most by-elections – Labour this week won Wellingborough with 13,000 and Kingswood with 11,000 votes.

Rochdale, they point out, has 30,000 Muslims.

Mr Danczuk claims Mr Galloway’s campaign is divisive and “stoking up trouble” – a claim dismissed by his rival.

Golden Mosque Islamic Centre
A general view of The Golden Mosque Islamic Centre in Rochdale which stands alongside high rise flats in the town (Dave Thompson PA)

Though Mr Ali’s name will still be on the ballot, Labour will not campaign and the 24,000 Labour votes cast in 2019 are up for grabs.

The number of postal votes in the election is high, standing at 21,870 out of an electorate of 82,615.

Mr Danczuk says the Tory vote is in “freefall” and the Liberal Democrats are a “spent force” in Rochdale.

His own campaign is based on voters’ disaffection with mainstream parties.

He said Rochdale had been let down on living standards and the economy by the Conservative government and let down by Labour, who run the town hall, on grooming gangs and the state of the town centre.

“People are fed up with mainstream parties, they are disillusioned with politics,” he said.

“My job is talk to them, to get them to come out and vote. That’s the challenge in this by-election.”

Mr Danczuk also highlights immigration as a big issue for his target voters in Rochdale, one of the poorest towns in England – which voted 60% for Brexit.

“We have had one of the highest intake of asylum seekers in the country compared to other towns and cities,” Mr Danczuk said.

“And that’s really impacted the local community.

“Reform have a really strong policy on illegal immigration – turning the boats back, processing people abroad, stopping the boats.”

The candidate, who claims Labour still has a deep antisemitism problem, said he can target Labour voters as the party can no longer “connect” to its working-class base.

He said: “They used to represent working people, but they don’t now.

“You know, David Lammy, Ed Miliband, Keir Starmer, this north London Labour elite, more interested in wokery than they are in work, that’s the reality of it.

“They don’t represent hard working people, they can’t even connect to or understand hard working people.

“I’ve always described myself as traditional Labour. So, tough on illegal immigration, tough on benefit cheats, big desire to get people into work.

“We were the party of work, that’s why it’s called the Labour Party.

“I think Reform will have a real appeal.”

He was barred for standing for Labour in the 2017 general election after apologising for “inappropriate” text messages sent to a 17-year-old girl, but says “whatever my faults,” he was regarded as a good constituency MP.

“I’m the only person from Rochdale,” he said, “Galloway… he doesn’t even know the place, he’s only ever set foot in it a couple of weeks ago.

George Galloway
George Galloway is also standing in the by-election (James Speakman/PA)

“He’s talking to a small, vocal minority in the town. I’m talking to the silent majority in this town who need to be given a voice and need to be represented well in Parliament.”

Also standing are Iain Donaldson, Liberal Democrats, Paul Ellison, Conservative Party, Michael Howarth, Independent, William Howarth, Independent, Ravin Rodent Subortna, The Official Monster Raving Loony Party and David Tully, Independent.

Guy Otten, the Green Party candidate, like Mr Ali, has had party support withdrawn over comments he made on Twitter, though his name will still appear on the ballot paper.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –