Labour Party Withdraws Support From own Candidate in Rochdale By-Election over Anti-Israel Comments

Sir Keir Starmer’s left-wing Labour Party caved to pressure on Monday and withdrew its support for Azhar Ali, their candidate in the Rochdale by-election, over his suggestion that Israel allowed the October 7th Hamas terror attacks.

Just hours after Labour leadership defended Councillor Ali, the left-wing party performed a u-turn and decided to withdraw their support for their own candidate for the February 29th by-election in Rochdale, which was triggered following the death last year of Labour MP Sir Tony Lloyd.

Labour had selected Ali to run as his replacement in the special election, and top members of the party, including Sir Keir Starmer’s deputy Angela Rayner, and members of his shadow cabinet such as Lisa Nandy and Anneliese Dodds, were dispatched to the constituency to campaign with Ali.

Yet, over the weekend, it was revealed by the Mail on Sunday that the left-wing politician had told a group of Labour members that he believed that the Islamist terror attacks on October 7th that left over 1,200 people dead and over 250 taken captive by Hamas were intentionally allowed by Jerusalem, claiming — without evidence — that Israel “deliberately took the security off, they allowed … that massacre that gives them the green light to do whatever they bloody want.”

Ali promptly apologised and retracted his statements. On Monday, Labour shadow minister Nick Thomas-Symonds attempted to defend Ali, claiming that the councillor had “fallen for an online conspiracy” and that he was cognisant of the “gravity of the offence that has been caused”.

However, hours later, it was announced that Labour had withdrawn its support from Ali, after being made aware of more anti-Israel comments, which have yet to be published.

A spokesman told the Daily Mail: “Following new information about further comments made by Azhar Ali coming to light today, the Labour Party has withdrawn its support for Azhar Ali as our candidate in the Rochdale by-election.”

“We understand that these are highly unusual circumstances but it is vital that any candidate put forward by Labour fully represents its aims and values.”

Given UK election law, the left-wing party cannot put forward another candidate as nominations closed on February 2nd. Although he will still appear as the candidate for Labour, should he prevail, he will not be given the whip and therefore would sit in the parliament as an independent MP.

The dramatic turn of events is widely seen as a boon to socialist George Galloway, a regular contributor to Russian state media RT and former Labour MP who went on to found the far-left Workers Party of Britain. Galloway, who has aggressively courted the large Muslim population in Rochdale, has previously been accused of spreading antisemitic rhetoric, coming under caution from the police in 2014 for vowing to make the city of Bradford — which he represented in Parliament at the time — an “Israel-free zone”.

The possibility of Galloway returning to the House of Commons is a frightful one for the Labour Party, given that it would give him a large platform from which to criticise Sir Keir Starmer’s moderate position on Israel, broadly backing Jerusalem in its mission to take out the network of Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip — a position that has landed him in hot water with the far-left within his own party and the Muslim community.

According to the left-wing Guardian newspaper, the desperation among some within the party to prevent a Galloway victory is so deep that some are even considering throwing their support behind Simon Danzcuk, the candidate for the populist right-wing Reform UK party in the election.

Danzcuk, a former Labour MP for the city before being suspended from the party in 2015 after being revealed to have sent sexually inappropriate text messages to a 17-year-old. However, a party insider said that “Simon may be the best way of keeping [Galloway] out… It’s the devil and the deep blue sea.”

The Reform party candidate called on Labour to tear down all posters and rip up leaflets endorsing Ali and to mandate that no activists continue to campaign on his behalf, saying: “Labour under Keir Starmer has been campaigning for someone with antisemitic views… The party must completely disassociate itself from this candidate. If the party appears to be tacitly supporting him, it will be a disgraceful state of affairs.”

Turing his focus on Galloway, Danzcuk said: “My campaign will be to tell the electorate that they will not want an MP who would prioritise Palestine over Rochdale. If elected I will prioritise Rochdale over Palestine”.

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