Azhar Ali to stand in Rochdale by-election as independent as Labour pull support

Tom Belger
© Alex Danila/

Labour has withdrawn support from its Rochdale by-election candidate Azhar Ali, leaving it without a candidate as it is too late for a new one to be added to ballot papers for the contest at the end of the month.

The move comes only shortly after the party and shadow cabinet member Nick Thomas-Symonds had said Labour would stand by its candidate over his widely condemned reported comments on Israel and Hamas.

Ali, leader of the Labour group on Lancashire County Council, had apologised after the Mail on Sunday reported he had said Israel “allowed” the Hamas attacks of October 7th in order to get a “green light to do whatever they bloody want”.

But a Labour party spokesperson said on Monday night: “Following new information about further comments made by Azhar Ali coming to light today, the Labour party has withdrawn its support for Azhar Ali as our candidate in  the Rochdale by-election.

“Keir Starmer has changed Labour so that it is unrecognisible from the party of 2019.

“We understand that these are highly unusual circumstances but it is vital that any candidate put forward by Labour fully represents its aims and values.

“Given that nominations have now closed Azhar Ali cannot be replaced as the candidate.”

The spokesperson did not give further information on the apparent “new information”, however.

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