Ex-Hyndburn MP Graham Jones breaks silence on ‘dark days’ as suspension lifted

A former Labour parliamentary candidate has told LabourList of his relief at his party membership reportedly being restored, following “dark days” and the “personal crisis” of  being suspended over alleged comments about the Israel-Hamas war.

Graham Jones had been selected as Labour’s candidate for the general election in Hyndburn, after being ousted as the MP for the constituency in 2019.

However, Jones was suspended from the party in February over reported comments related to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, just days after Labour suspended its candidate for the Rochdale by-election. The Jewish Labour Movement described remarks Jones was allegedly recorded making at a meeting as “appalling and unacceptable”.

After Rishi Sunak called the general election last week, Labour opened the selection process for Hyndburn, which appeared to indicate Jones would not be the party’s candidate for the seat on July 4.

However, in a post on his Facebook page on Tuesday, Jones said: “My suspension from the Labour Party has been lifted.” The post was met with dozens of positive responses from supporters.

Jones told LabourList: “I’m so relieved this has happened. It’s been a long time and I’m grateful to the staff at the Labour Party who concluded this thorough investigation.

“I’d like to thank friends, colleagues and others who have supported me through this personal crisis. Notably, Tom Watson, Tom Blenkinsop, and particularly people at the Jewish Chronicle and at Labour Against Anti-Semitism, with whom I’ve had long conversations.

“When Ed Balls came out in support of me on national TV, I burst out and cried. No-one has ever supported me in my life to such an extent. And there’s so many others in Westminster who’ve stuck by me and been supportive.

“I’ve been happy to circulate the full recording as far and wide so people can judge for themselves. The people of Hyndburn have been brilliantly supportive too. From the CLP who gave me unanimous backing last week to ordinary members of the public who’ve come into our office in huge numbers or stopped me on the street just to offer their support.

“I’m hugely thankful to everyone. It has been an awful experience and that personal support has got me through some dark days and I just wanted to say thank you once again.”

But one senior Labour activist told LabourList Jones was “behaving like he’s a victim here – he’s really not”.

They added that he should be “apologising, not acting like the injured party” for his reported comments.

On Facebook, the Constituency Labour Party in Hyndburn said that members had recently “unanimously agreed” to send a letter of support for Jones, however.

In the post, the local party said: “Graham has been a dedicated and passionate advocate for our party and our community, and we believe it’s crucial to stand by hum during this challenging time as he has done by us.

“Our collective support is a testament to the strength and unity of our local party.”

Labour did not respond to request for comment on whether Jones had been re-admitted.

The development raises questions about whether Jones has any chance of being reinstated as the Labour candidate. Labour and Jones were approached for further comment.

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