The decision came after new information emerged about additional comments by Mr. Ali, leading to his suspension from the party pending further investigation.
Azhar Ali, a Lancashire County Councillor, allegedly implicated Israel in the deadly Hamas attack on October 7, sparking outrage within the party and from political opponents.
While Azhar Ali will still appear on the ballot as the Labour candidate for Rochdale, he may have to sit as an independent MP or join another party if elected.
Labour spokesperson highlighted the importance of candidates aligning with the party’s values, emphasizing the changes under leader Keir Starmer to combat issues like antisemitism.
The decision to withdraw support for Mr. Ali signifies Labour’s commitment to eradicating antisemitism from the party, as stated by Labour’s National Campaign Coordinator, Pat McFadden.
Labour faced intense pressure following Mr. Ali’s comments, prompting the party to take action and suspend the candidate despite the timing, as the by-election is imminent.
The move adds a layer of uncertainty to the Rochdale by-election, with candidates like former Labour MP Simon Danczuk and George Galloway also vying for the seat, promising a competitive race on February 29.
Key figures like Prime Minister Rishi Sunak criticized Labour for the decision, accusing them of bowing to media pressure rather than standing on principle.
Various commentators and organizations, including the Campaign Against Antisemitism and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, expressed disappointment in Labour’s handling of the situation, highlighting the need for genuine accountability and trust-building.
Labour’s internal struggle reflects the broader challenges surrounding views on Israel-Palestine in British politics, with recent incidents leading to suspensions of party members and MPs over related comments.
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