Starmer dithered on Azhar Ali because he fears encouraging anti-Zionist candidates like George Galloway who can wreck Labour majorities
: Asadour Guzelian
Labour will do its best to portray the Azhar Ali saga as a little local difficulty, but behind the scenes Sir Keir Starmer will know that it is anything but.
The anti-Semitic views expressed by the former Labour candidate for Rochdalenow standing as an independentare supported by a large chunk of the electorate in some constituencies. That is surely why Mr Ali said what he did about Israel allowing the Hamas terrorist attack to happen so it could stage a “land grab” in Gaza.
It is also why Sir Keir dithered over withdrawing Labour’s support for Mr Ali, knowing that doing so would provide a fillip to George Galloway, the Workers Party of Britain candidate and perpetual fly in the ointment.
Should Mr Galloway win in Rochdale, a possibility that has just increased, Sir Keir knows that anti-Zionist candidates would be encouraged to stand in seats with a large Muslim population, potentially costing Labour not just votes but constituencies in the general election.
In short, such candidates could be to Labour what Reform is to the Conservatives: a repository for the votes of the disillusioned, whose views are not reflected by the mainstream parties.
Labour seats in jeopardy
Already a website called The Muslim Vote has been set up to tell Muslims “who to vote for”, in its own words. It lists every constituency with at least a 10 per cent Muslim electorate, together with how the current MP voted on the Gaza ceasefire and the name of the “community endorsed candidate”. In Rochdale that person is George Galloway.
Rochdale only comes 21st in terms of the proportion of Muslim voters; if Mr Galloway managed to win there, it would put at least 20 other Labour seats in jeopardy, and possibly more, depending on the size of Mr Galloway’s vote share.
In 2021 Mr Galloway managed to pull in 21.9 per cent of the votes in the Batley and Spen by-election, despite the emotional pull of the Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater, sister of the seat’s former MP Jo Cox, who had been murdered five years earlier.
Sir Keir is in far greater danger than he seems to realise
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