Sir Keir Starmer urged to suspend Labour members who attended meeting at centre of antisemitism row | Politics News

Sir Keir Starmer has been urged to suspend any Labour member who was present at a meeting of activists where antisemitic comments were allegedly made.

Mike Katz, the national chair of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), which is formally affiliated to the Labour Party, criticised those who were present at a community meeting that has recently come under the spotlight but failed to “call out” comments about Israel.

At the meeting, which is understood to have taken place in Hyndburn last year, Labour’s original candidate for the Rochdale by-election claimed Israel deliberately allowed the Hamas atrocity of 7 October to take place in order to give it the “green light” to invade Gaza.

The Labour Party initially stood by Azhar Ali after the comments were made public, citing his “unreserved” apology, but later withdrew support for his candidacy after “further comments” came to light.

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Yesterday it emerged that another one of the party’s election candidates, the former Labour MP Graham Jones, had also been present at the meeting, where he allegedly referred to “f***ing Israel” and said UK citizens who volunteer to fight for the Israeli Defence Forces “should be locked up”.

The comments, which were branded “appalling” and “unacceptable” by JLM, resulted in Mr Jones’s suspension as its prospective parliamentary candidate for Hyndburn, a seat he has held previously.

Asked about the failure of other present to raise concerns about comments made at the meeting, Mr Katz told Sky News’ Politics Hub there was a “real problem that nobody called it out”.

“Obviously there were people in leadership positions not calling it out,” he said.

“Other people in that meeting, even if it was a private space, would think, ‘Oh, it’s fine to spread that conspiracy theory that Israel wanted these attacks to happen, or that the Jews control the media, and then they’ll think, it’s fine for me to say that.

“They could go out into a public space, whether it’s a community association meeting or talking at a mosque or wherever, and repeat the same things.

“Everybody’s got a responsibility to that community cohesion. And you’ve also got a responsibility for a position of leadership. You’re an MP, you’re a council leader, a councillor, or you aspire to be an MP as a candidate, you’ve got to have the gumption to call out racism when you hear it.”

Asked whether he believed everyone at the meeting who was a Labour member should be suspended from the party, Mr Katz replied: “Well, they’re identifiable. They all ought to be suspended pending investigation.”

Mr Katz went on to say there needed to be an “investigation into their involvement”.

The Labour Party has been plunged into crisis in recent days as more details about the community meeting have emerged.

Sky News understands that a third Labour politician – Hyndburn councillor Munsif Dad – attended the meeting of activists in question.

Sky News understands Mr Dad has been “spoken to” by Labour officials, but it is not yet clear if he made any contribution to the meeting and no further action has been taken.

Mr Dad and the Labour Party have been contacted for statements.

On Monday, Labour withdrew support from and suspended Mr Ali, who is standing under their banner at the upcoming Rochdale by-election, after he allegedly blamed “people in the media from certain Jewish quarters” for fuelling criticism of a pro-Palestinian Labour MP, and claimed Israel planned to “get rid of [Palestinians] from Gaza” and “grab” some of the land during discussions at the meeting.

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Labour activists face ‘disciplinary action’ if they support abandoned Rochdale candidate Azhar Ali

However, Mr Ali will still appear on the ballot paper as the Labour candidate because it is too late for party to remove his name.

See below the full list of candidates for the Rochdale by-election and the political parties they represent:

Azhar Ali, (listed as Labour Party, but now no longer endorsed as its candidate)
Mark Coleman, Independent
Simon Danczuk, Reform UK
Iain Donaldson, Liberal Democrats
Paul Ellison, The Conservative Party Candidate
George Galloway, Workers’ Party of Britain
Michael Howarth, Independent
William Howarth, Independent
Guy Otten, (listed as Green Party, but now removed as its candidate)
Ravin Subortna, The Official Monster Raving Loony Party
David Tully, Independent

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