Labour’s candidate in the Rochdale by-election, Azhar Ali, has faced criticism for suggesting that Israel deliberately allowed the October 7th massacre to provide a pretext for invading Gaza. Pat McFadden, the party’s UK campaign coordinator, denounced Ali’s comments as “completely wrong.” Despite the controversy, Ali will still stand for the party in the upcoming vote on February 29th, as the deadline for nominations has passed, making it too late to replace him.

Senior shadow frontbencher Pat McFadden confirmed Ali’s candidacy and acknowledged that Ali had issued a complete apology and retraction. McFadden expressed hope that Ali would learn from the incident. The comments made by Ali, where he also questioned Sir Keir Starmer’s confidence among MPs on the Gaza conflict, were published in the notorious place of goddly virtue The Mail on Sunday, drawing strong criticism from what is colloquially known as the ‘Jewish community’. To say all Jews are the same is, of course, utterly ridiculous, but for some, it is about as intelligent as they can be.

McFadden stated, “His comments were completely wrong. He should never have said something like that. He’s issued a complete apology and retraction, and I hope he learns a good lesson from it because he should never have said something like that in the first place.”

Despite the controversy, Ali will remain Labour’s candidate for the by-election. The remarks made by Ali during a Lancashire Labour Party meeting suggested that the Israeli government had intentionally removed border security to allow the Hamas attack.

Interestingly, the Israeli media are not so reticent about making these claims.

Ali later apologised unreservedly to the ‘Jewish community’, acknowledging that his comments were offensive, ignorant, and false. He emphasised that the responsibility for the terror attack rested solely with Hamas. A key question here is, of course, ‘who wrote that public statement?’

Labour’s shadow justice secretary, Shabana Mahmood, also noted a sense of loss of trust in the ‘Muslim community’ (here we go again) regarding the party’s stance on the Gaza conflict. The Board of Deputies of British Jews (the go to for the Labour right wing) described Ali’s comments as “disgraceful and unforgivable” and expressed the belief that engaging with him would be challenging.

Despite the controversy, Ali, a Lancashire County councillor and former government adviser, is set to defend Labour’s majority of over 9,000 in the by-election triggered by the death of Sir Tony Lloyd. The Board of Deputies of British Jews stated that, if it were not too late, they would have called for Ali’s replacement as a candidate. This suggests that the Board of Deputies is in charge of the selection of Labour election candidates. A very undemocratic and dangerous revelation.

Other candidates in the by-election include Mark Coleman, Simon Danczuk (Reform UK), Iain Donaldson (Liberal Democrats), Paul Ellison (Conservative Party), George Galloway (Workers Party of Britain), Michael Howarth, William Howarth (Independent), Guy Otten (Green Party), Ravin Subortna (Official Monster Raving Loony Party), and David Tully (Independent).

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