Labour finally drops support for candidate who pushed October 7 conspiracy theory

The party had originally stood by Azhar Ali who claimed that Israel gave the ‘green light’ for Hamas to launch a terror attack


'I apologise unreservedly to the Jewish community': Labour figures have rowed behind Azhar Ali (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Labour has withdrawn its support for Rochdale by-election candidate Azhar Ali after it emerged he has made more negative comments about Israel and the Jewish community.

Senior Labour figures had said they were standing behind Ali who claimed Israel allowed the October 7 attack to happen to further its goals in Gaza.

But on Monday evening, Labour's National Campaign Coordinator Pat McFadden said Mr Ali was suspended after "more comments" came to light.

Mr McFadden said that "the fact you have got very rare circumstances where a political party is withdrawing support for a candidate after nominations have closed" showed Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was serious about "rooting antisemitism out of the Labour party".

The local councillor was selected by the party to replace veteran MP Tony Lloyd, who died in office earlier this year.

On Saturday, however, it was revealed that Ali had pushed a conspiracy theory while speaking to Labour members behind closed doors soon after October 7.

"The Egyptians are saying that they warned Israel ten days earlier,” he said in a recording obtained by the Mail on Sunday.

"Americans warned them a day before [that] there's something happening... They deliberately took the security off, they allowed... that massacre that gives them the green light to do whatever they bloody want.”

Writing on X on Sunday, Ali said he apologised “unreservedly” to the Jewish community for his “deeply offensive, ignorant, and false” remarks.

He wrote: “Hamas’ horrific terror attack was the responsibility of Hamas alone, and they are still holding hostages who must be released.

"October 7th was the greatest loss of Jewish life in a single day since the Holocaust, and Jews in the UK and across the world are living in fear of rising antisemitism. I will urgently apologise to Jewish leaders for my inexcusable comments.

"The Labour Party has changed unrecognisably under Keir Starmer's leadership, he has my full support in delivering the change Britain needs.”

On Monday evening, the Daily Mail released a recording, which is allegedly of Mr Ali, in which he blamed "people in the media from certain Jewish quarters" for the suspension of Andy McDonald from the Labour Party.

The person on the recording goes on to say Israel planned to "get rid of [Palestinians] from Gaza" and "grab" the land.

He also appears to boast about stopping local public buildings from flying the Israeli flag in solidarity after the deadly Hamas attack on 7 October.

In a statement released on Monday, The Jewish Labour Movement said: “In light of new information and further comments from Ali, Labour is right to cease all campaigning for him. As he cannot be removed from the ballot, we believe it is correct that he will not sit as a Labour MP if elected.”

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said the decision to withdraw support was "the worst of all worlds".

"Rather than appearing as a principled decision, Labour's withdrawal of support for its candidate at this late stage just looks as expedient as the failed attempt to defend him," the spokesperson added.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak accused Labour of only withdrawing support for Mr Ali due to "enormous media pressure".

Azhar Ali has been contacted for comment.

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