Azhar Ali row: how Keir Starmer has handled other members’ behaviour

Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and Sam Tarry are among those who have tested the Labour leader

The claim by Labour’s Rochdale byelection candidate Azhar Ali that Israel allowed the Hamas attacks on 7 October to provide pretext for invading Gaza was, he has admitted, “deeply offensive, ignorant, and false”. Labour’s election strategist Pat McFadden thought it “completely wrong”.

So it could be seen as surprising that Labour expended such time, energy and political capital trying to protect him this week. The party’s view on Monday morning was steadfastly that Ali had apologised and would learn his lesson. So much so, in fact, that a shadow minister was sent out on the morning media round to make the case.

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