George Galloway slams Labour, Tories and Budget in Commons return

The Rochdale MP described the Chancellor’s Budget last week as a ‘nothing burger’.

David Lynch
Tuesday 12 March 2024 18:31 GMT
George Galloway was elected to Parliament again in the Rochalde by-election (PA)
George Galloway was elected to Parliament again in the Rochalde by-election (PA) (PA Wire)

George Galloway hit out at Labour and the Conservatives, claiming most people “feel a wish for a plague on both their houses”, in his first Commons speech on returning to Parliament.

The leader of the Workers Party of Britain criticised the Chancellor’s Budget as an “absolute nothing burger” which would not help Rochdale, the town he now represents.

In his first Commons outing since he swore the oath of allegiance to the King and took his seat, Mr Galloway also paid tribute to his Labour predecessor Sir Tony Lloyd, whose death from cancer triggered the by-election which led to his victory.

Mr Galloway opened his speech by telling MPs: “As I was saying Madame Deputy Speaker, even in Parliament you can’t be a maiden twice.”

An MP’s first speech is usually known as their maiden speech, but Mr Galloway has previously represented seats in Glasgow, east London and Bradford in the Commons, for Labour and later the Respect Party.

The newly elected MP swept to victory in greater Manchester seat Rochdale in February, gaining almost 40% of the vote in a contest mired in chaos and controversy and dominated by the Gaza conflict.

Frankly all the spices in Rochdale could not give flavour to what can only be described as a nothing burger of a Budget

George Galloway

He described his Rochdale predecessor Sir Tony as a “significant figure that should never be forgotten in this House and certainly will not be forgotten in the Greater Manchester arena where he was born and where he practised his sincere political artistry over so many years”.

As he continued his tribute to Sir Tony, Mr Galloway criticised the Labour Party, telling MPs: “The Labour Party of course is not the party today that it was back then, and in this speech and later speeches I hope – if God spares me and you (Madame Deputy Speaker) allow me to catch your eye – but Tony Lloyd notwithstanding the very poor odour in which the Labour Party is held in the town of Rochdale, the only thing that unites the entire town of Rochdale is antipathy towards the Labour council in the beautiful, new, refurbished town hall.”

“That is something we intend to change in just a few weeks from now at the local elections,” he added, referring to May’s local elections, before finishing his tribute to Sir Tony by telling the Commons: “But notwithstanding the poor odour of the Labour Party in the town, everyone respected and admired Tony Lloyd, Sir Tony Lloyd as he was to become.”

Mr Galloway went on to criticise the lack of public services in Rochdale, insisting it was not possible to either be born or die in the town due to lack of hospital facilities.

He claimed Rochdale had become a “subdivision of Oldham” because its postcode began OL.

In his first written parliamentary question to ministers tabled since his return, the Workers Party MP asked if ministers would “have discussions with Royal Mail on the allocation of the RO postcode to Rochdale”, but was told this would be an operational matter for the Royal Mail.

He also hit out at the Budget, telling the Commons: “Frankly all the spices in Rochdale could not give flavour to what can only be described as a nothing burger of a Budget. An absolute nothing burger and the response from the so-called Opposition in this House: equally vacuous.

“The shadow minister (Darren Jones) bridled when the SNP accused them of accepting the Tories’ spending limits, but he had no right to bridle because everything that is being said by the Leader of the Opposition, by the shadow chancellor of the exchequer, accepts the economic orthodoxies of the Conservative Government.”

Mr Galloway said he had “garnered more votes” than all of the main parties “put together” in the Rochdale by-election, adding: “Proving my point that actually outside in the country most people feel a wish for a plague on both of their houses.

“Two cheeks of the same backside is the most popular phrase I have ever coined, because it so aptly describes not just the general political situation, but the debate on this very Budget itself.”

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