George Galloway could be set to return to Parliament as polls close in the Rochdale by-election.

A chaotic contest drew to a close at 10pm, with the Labour candidate Azhar Ali dumped by the party for comments he made about Israel.

Mr Ali still appeared on the ballot next to the party logo, however, as it was too late to withdraw him as a candidate.

Former Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk is also standing under the Reform UK banner, Iain Donaldson is the Liberal Democrat candidate and as is traditional in by-elections there are a number of comedy candidates including Ravin Rodent Subortna of the Monster Raving Loony Party.

However, the favourite with bookmakers' is George Galloway.

Read More: George Galloway 'favourite for Rochdale by-election'

Standing under the banner of the Workers Party of Britain, Mr Galloway has targeted his campaign squarely at the town's large Muslim population.

A long-time advocate for Palestine, he has been scathingly critical of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and his support for Israel.

Here's what you need to know about the man who is looking to be Rochdale's next MP.

The Herald:

Who is George Galloway?

Born in Dundee's Irish quarter in August 1954, Mr Galloway became the youngest-ever chair of the Scottish Labour Party in 1981.

He was elected as the Labour MP for Glasgow Hillhead - later Glasgow Kelvin - in 1987 but was expelled from the party in 2005 after being found guilty on four of five charges of bringing the party into disrepute for comments he made about the war in Iraq.

What has he done since?

Mr Galloway joined the Respect Party following his expulsion from Labour, and won the seat of Bethnal Green and Bow at the 2005 general election.

He then stood for Poplar and Limehouse in 2010 but finished in third place.

Two years later, however, Mr Galloway secured one of the biggest upsets in British political history when he won the Bradford West by-election, taking over 50% of the vote.

The Herald: George Galloway celebrates victory in Bradford West

He was defeated at the general election two years later and has since been unsuccessful in standing to be an MP in Manchester Gorton, West Bromwich East and Batley & Spen.

Mr Galloway finished seventh in voting for London Mayor in 2016, and has also twice attempted to become an MSP.

In 2011 he stood on the Glasgow list for Respect but was not elected, and in 2021 he stood under the banner of All For Unity, a unionist party, for the South of Scotland list.

What are his political positions?

Mr Galloway was a vocal critic of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and is a prominent advocate for Palestine.

He has been a longtime supporter of devolution but is opposed to Scottish independence. He was in favour of leaving the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum.

He describes himself as a socialist and a trade unionist.

Read More: The gladiator in a fedora: Kevin McKenna meets George Galloway

What else is he known for?

Mr Galloway hosts a bi-weekly television programme and previously hosted a radio phone-in on TalkSPORT.

Arguably his most famous political moment came not in the House of Commons but before the US senate.

As part of the oil-for-food hearings the MP was named as an "allocation holder" on documents from Iraq.

In a blistering address, Mr Galloway accused senators of creating "the mother of all smokescreens", and described them as having made a "schoolboy howler" by confusing important dates.

He declared: "I am here today - but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever having written to me or telephoned me, without any contact with me whatsoever - and you call that justice.

"What counts is not the names on the paper. What counts is where's the money, senator? Who paid me money, senator? Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars?

"The answer to that is nobody - and if you had anybody who paid me a penny, you would have produced them here today."

The following year he appeared on Celebrity Big Brother where he infamously, as part of  a task, pretended to be a cat and drank imaginary milk from the cupped hands of fellow housemate Rula Lenska.