Accusations of anti-Semitism and political contortions: the war in Gaza agitates British Labor |  International

Accusations of anti-Semitism and political contortions: the war in Gaza agitates British Labor | International

Accusations of anti-Semitism and political contortions: the war in Gaza agitates British Labor |  International

As polls increasingly predict Keir Starmer’s electoral victory in the next British general election, which everyone expects to take place next fall, the leader of the Labor Party has become more confused in his decisions. This latest setback caused particularly serious political damage. The announcement that he was withdrawing his support for his own candidate in the Rochdale constituency by-election for spreading an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory at a poll has generated more internal unrest within the party than relief.

This Tuesday, the situation worsened with the announcement of the expulsion of a second candidate who had also made harsh remarks against Israel.

The party leadership had decided to accept Azhar Ali’s apology as good things, according to the tabloid Daily Mail said the candidate had declared during an election poll, shortly after the Hamas attack in Israel that left 1,200 citizens dead and 250 kidnapped, that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government had decided to lower the guard although he had been warned of the imminent offensive. “They deliberately removed security measures. They let the massacre happen because it gave them the green light to do whatever they wanted (All they wantin the original statement),” the newspaper claims, which Ali said in front of a group of Labor supporters.

The candidate then apologized profusely and the party leadership accepted them. It was, however, shocking on the left of the Labor Party that Starmer was so drastic towards his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn – whom he even expelled from the parliamentary group – and towards many of his allies for alleged anti-Semitism that, in many cases, was not gone as far as Ali’s and yet he supported the candidate.

The Rochdale by-election, scheduled for February 29, follows the death from cancer of Labor MP Tony Lloyd, who represented the constituency. Voters must go to the polls again to fill this gap.

Three issues could explain Starmer’s indecision when it came to reacting to Ali’s controversial statements. 30% of left-wing voters in the constituency are Muslim, and there is widespread unrest in this community over the ambiguity displayed by the Labor leader regarding Israeli attacks on Gaza. More than two dozen local Muslim Labor leaders in the region have already resigned in protest at the leadership’s approach to the conflict.

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Second, Ali, a very popular candidate and clearly opposed to Islamic extremism, could no longer withdraw. According to the electoral regulations, the deadline had expired. This produces the absurd paradox that he will continue to present himself as the Labor option, even if he does not have the support of his party.

And third: forcibly withdrawing support for Ali would have given wings, as ultimately happened, to the Labor Party’s bete noire: George Galloway, a politician, presenter and journalist who, due to the populism of far left he faced at the time, Tony Blair – to whom he dedicated strong words about the war in Iraq – managed to enter Parliament in four different constituencies in 25 years. Twice as a Labor Party candidate. In two others, at the head of the formation that he himself founded, the Respect Party. At 69, Galloway has returned to represent Rochdale, and his pro-Palestinian, anti-elite rhetoric is garnering support from a population that feels abandoned and once pro-Brexit.

Starmer gives in to pressure

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who polls predict is a total election defeat, has had the ability to cling to the controversy like a hot nail and has accused Starmer of being a shameless liar. “He has been saying for a year that the Labor Party has changed (having eradicated the so-called anti-Semitism of previous times). Look what just happened in Rochdale… Five minutes before, I was speaking this evening,” Sunak said Monday evening at an event organized by the ultra-conservative channel GB News, “and after enormous pressure , he decided to change his mind. “He has no principles,” accused his rival Prime Minister.

The Labor Party leadership took advantage of the pretext of new revelations in the Daily Mail on the words of candidate Ali only to finally give in. Apparently, in his statements during this election, he also accused Israel of seeking to permanently expel Palestinians from Gaza in order to seize this territory. “After becoming aware of new information regarding Azhar Ali’s comments, the Labor Party has decided to withdraw its support for him. “Keir Starmer has changed the Labor Party until it is unrecognizable from what it was in 2019. We understand that these circumstances are very exceptional, but it is essential that all Labor candidates represent his objectives and its values,” declared a party spokesperson.

A second candidate, suspended

Amid the imbroglio, media reports revealed on Tuesday that another former Labor MP, Graham Jones, who lost his Hyndburn constituency seat in 2019 to the Conservatives and the party had run again as candidate in the next elections, had also been suspended for his anti-Semitic comments. He participated in the same electoral vote as Ali, and the website Guido Fawkesknown for exposing British political scandals, said Jones was referring to a “fucking Israel” (fucking Israel) and assured that “all” British Jewish citizens who decide to enlist in the Israeli army to fight Hamas should be incarcerated.

No one was happy with the clumsy handling of the affair by Starmer and his team. The final blow came from Martin Forde, the lawyer from whom the current party leadership commissioned a report on anti-Semitism within the Labor Party. That text was devastating, but Forde has now called the response to the Ali case “chaotic,” in addition to expressing suspicion that so-called toughness in the face of anti-Semitic behavior has degrees, and depends a lot on whether if the offense is committed. comes from allies or rivals of the current party leadership.

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