Tuesday 13 February 2024


Azhar Ali and Keir Starmer in happier days

In a bizarre turn of events, next week's Westminster by-election in Rochdale will be defended by a Labour candidate who has been suspended from the party.  Azhar Ali was suspended on Monday after comments came to light regarding Israel and Jewish media influence.

The initial 'revelations' about Ali came in the Mail on Sunday, that had obtained a recording in which Ali addresses a Labour meeting following the October 7th Hamas attacks on Israel.  In it, he suggests that Israel 'allowed' the attacks to proceed in order to justify their invasion of Gaza.  As media interest in the story grew, Ali issued several grovelling public apologies on social media and Labour initially stood by their man, saying that he had 'fallen for an online conspiracy theory'.

"The Egyptians are saying that they warned Israel ten days earlier.  Americans warned them a day before: 'There's something happening'.  They deliberately took the security off, they allowed the massacre of 1,200 innocent people and that gives them the green light to do whatever they bloody want."

(Azhar Ali, Lancashire Labour meeting, October 2023)

However, the Mail had more ammunition in reserve and on Monday morning released further audio transcripts, including details of how Ali and colleagues put pressure on local councils to not co-operate with Rishi Sunak's decree that all government buildings be decked out in the colours of the Israeli flag.  Ali asserts that the exercise would 'cause community problems and tensions' and says: "We do not want the Israeli flag flying from the town halls at Nelson, Burnley, Accrington, [inaudible, possibly Blackburn], Preston."

Ali goes on to defend hard left Labour MP Andy McDonald, who was suspended from the party following a speech he made at a pro-Palestine rally last year.  Ali then refers to the media response to McDonald's speech from 'certain Jewish quarters'.

Keir Starmer finally bucked to media pressure on Monday afternoon and all Labour campaigning on behalf of Ali was ordered to cease that evening.  Later, having announced that the party had 'withdrawn support' for Ali, it was confirmed that his party membership had been suspended.  It was too near polling day to remove Ali as the Labour candidate altogether and his name will still appear on the ballot paper as a Labour candidate, although if he is elected he will enter Parliament as an independent.

It is unclear as to how this clown show will influence the result of the February 29th by-election, but the bookies have now made George Galloway odds on favourite to win a seat in which the Muslim vote appears to be the only one that matters.

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