Starmer withdraws support for Pro-Palestine Labour candidate

2 months ago 35

LABOUR has removed its backing for Palestine-supporting Rochdale by-election candidate Azhar Ali.

Ali was recorded speaking out in support of Palestine at a Labour Party meeting following the launch of Israel’s genocidal attacks on Gaza in October.

He cannot be replaced on the ballot due to electoral law deadlines, so he remains the Labour candidate, but he is now standing without the support of the Labour Party.

Ali was among 40 Labour councillors who wrote a letter to Keir Starmer in October accusing Israel of blatant violation of international law.

The letter condemned Israel’s ‘collective punishment’ of Palestinians and called for Israel to be investigated for war crimes in Gaza.

It also said that it is ‘deeply unsettling to witness the relentless bombardment of Gaza’ and condemned the ‘historical injustice of the illegal occupation of Palestinian land’.

The letter also called on the United Nations and International Criminal Court to ‘appoint independent arbitrators’ in order to assess the validity of evidence of war crimes and said that there is ‘undeniable proof’ of ‘Israeli military brutality’ in the West Bank.

The letter concluded: ‘We vehemently condemn any actions that lead to the loss of innocent lives. Israel’s blatant violation of international law through the denial of essential resources such as food, water and fuel must be unequivocally denounced. The collective punishment of 2.2 million Palestinians cannot be justified.’

On Monday night, the Labour Party said it was withdrawing support for Ali, and Starmer said yesterday: ‘It is a huge thing to withdraw support for a Labour candidate during the course of a by-election. But when I say the Labour Party has changed under my leadership I mean it.’

Starmer warned that he would investigate other Labour Party members who attended the meeting at which the recordings of speeches in support of Palestine had been made.

He said: ‘I set out four years ago to tear antiSemitism out of the Labour Party. It’s the first thing I said I’d do as Labour leader, and to change our party.

‘I have taken a series of decisions along those lines, ruthlessly changing our party, and it’s made no difference to me where somebody stands in the Labour Party.’

According to Electoral Commission rules, a candidate can only withdraw from a UK parliament constituency election 19 days before voting takes place.

The Rochdale by-election Azhar Ali is standing in will take place on 29 February, meaning it is too late for him to be removed.

Therefore, he will appear as a Labour candidate on the ballot paper when voters head to the polls to choose their next MP.

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