Pat McFadden has confirmed a Labour councillor will still be running as the party’s candidate in the upcoming Rochdale by-election, after apologising for “completely wrong” remarks about Israel.
The shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster appeared on Sky’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips and discussed The Mail on Sunday’s story about Azhar Ali.
According to recordings obtained by the newspaper, the councillor allegedly said Israel deliberately allowed 1,400 people to be killed on its own soil on October 7.
Ali reportedly said Israel did so in order to give the “green light” to invade the Palestinian territory of Gaza, when at a meeting of the Lancashire Labour Party.
When pressed about the incident, McFadden told Phillips: “His comments were completely wrong, he should never have said something like that, it is of course, completely wrong to say that.
“I saw him last night, he’s issued a complete apology and retraction and I hope he learns a good lesson from it, he should never have said something like that.”
Ali issued a statement to The Mail on Sunday, saying: “I apologise unreservedly to the Jewish community for my comments which were deeply offensive, ignorant, and false.”
He called for the Hamas hostages to be released, recognised rising anti-Semitism in the UK and across the world, and promised to apologise to Jewish leaders “for my inexcusable comments”.
Phillips said: ’An apology is not the same thing as a denial. It seems everyone is agreeing he said it, presumably he thought it.
“Is Labour happy with a candidate who thinks that?”
“No, that’s why he has issued a complete retraction and apology,” McFadden said, “It’s right that he has completely apologised now.”
Asked if he would still be the Labour candidate, McFadden said: “In the upcoming by-election? Yes he will.”
Ali will be defending a Labour seat which has a majority of more than 9,000 after the death of former MP Tony Lloyd.