SPOTTED: Labour councillors dine with suspended candidate despite antisemitic remarks

​Azhar Ali

Azhar Ali sat down for lunch with a table of Labour councillors on Friday

Tom Harwood

By Tom Harwood

Published: 23/02/2024

- 21:00

Updated: 23/02/2024

- 21:22

Ali was disowned by Labour as its candidate earlier this month for comment made in a leaked video

Suspended Labour Parliamentary candidate Azhar Ali was spotted lunching with the party on Friday, chatting with councillors and eating with the candidate for the new seat of Blackpool North and Fleetwood, GB News can reveal.

Azhar Ali sat down for lunch with a table of Labour councillors at today’s Lancashire County Council budget meeting.

It came despite the disowned Labour candidate having sat with the independents on the council during the meeting itself due to being suspended from the party.

Ali was disowned by Labour as its candidate for next week's Rochdale by-election at the start of last week, after leaked footage drew attention to controversial and antisemitic remarks he had made at a local Labour Party meeting.

A video recording first surfaced of Ali promoting a conspiracy theory that Israel explicitly permitted the largest slaughter of Jews since the holocaust on October 7 in order to justify an invasion of Gaza.

Sir Keir Starmer initially stuck by Ali, with two Shadow Cabinet ministers sent out to publicly defend the decision.


Sir Keir Starmer said at the time that he had changed the Labour Party and Azhar Ali had been suspended


However, he was later suspended from the Labour Party when further comments surfaced of Ali hitting out at what he called “people in the media from certain Jewish quarters”.

Sir Keir Starmer said at the time: "When I say the Labour Party has changed under my leadership I mean it."

Election rules, however, mean that Ali’s name will still appear next to the Labour Party insignia on Rochdale by election ballot papers, as the suspension took place after the official close of nominations.

The socialising seen in GB News’s picture of Ali and Labour councillors and candidates today, despite his suspension, has raised questions of how serious the Labour Party is about distancing itself from its former candidate.

Conservative Party chairman Richard Holden responded to the photograph by asking “how many of Lancashire Labour share Cllr Azhar Ali’s views of Sir Keir Starmer, or share Cllr Ali’s racist antisemitic rantings?”

He added: “There’ll be no action from weak Labour … Sir Keir’s too weak to change the Labour Party. Too weak to be honest about the cost of his Party’s policy ideas. Too weak to lead our country.”

Spokesperson for Labour Against Antisemitism, Euan Philipps, said of the candidates and councillors casually lunching with a former Labour member suspended for antisemitism: “This is not good enough”.

However Liberal Democrat councillor Nathan Ley defended the lunch saying: “Councillors of all parties usually mix during this type of break session.”

A Labour source said: “Azhar Ali has been suspended from the Labour Party pending investigation. Keir Starmer took the unprecedented decision to withdraw support from a Parliamentary candidate during a by-election.

“When Keir Starmer became leader of the Labour Party, he said he would change the Party and said that every candidate and MP would operate to the highest standards. This action shows that he meant it.”

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