Revealed: The Labour Leaflets Backing Dumped By-Election Candidate

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham describes Azhar Ali as "a powerful champion for Rochdale" on the free mailshots.
The leaflet which has gone to voters in Rochdale.
The leaflet which has gone to voters in Rochdale.
Labour Party

Labour leaflets urging voters to back a by-election candidate who has been disowned by the party have today been sent to thousands of homes.

The mailshots, seen by HuffPost UK, describe Azhar Ali as “a strong voice for Rochdale”.

They began landing on doormats throughout the seat this morning, just days after party bosses withdrew their support for Ali over comments he made about the Israel-Hamas war at a community meeting.

It emerged at the weekend that Ali - who was only chosen as Labour’s candidate less than two weeks ago - had told a meeting that Israel deliberately allowed 1,400 people to be killed on its own soil on October 7 in order to provide a pretext for invading Gaza.

After his remarks were reported by the Mail on Sunday, Labour initially stood by Ali after he made a full apology.

But the party finally withdrew its support for him on Monday night after separate remarks he made at the same event about Jewish people in the media came to light.

It means that although Ali will still officially be Labour’s candidate in the by-election on February 29, the party will not be campaigning for him and he will need to sit as an independent MP if he wins.

The party’s decision to dump its candidate came too late to stop the leaflets being distributed to the seat’s 50,000 voters.

It is understood that Labour has worked with Royal Mail to stop as many of the leaflets being delivered as possible.

In a personal message on the front of the leaflet, Ali says: “I grew up down the road and like you, I know how tough times have been under the Conservatives over the last 14 years.

“It’s awful seeing the growth in food banks, beggars on the street and run down shops in our town centre; Rochdale deserves so much better than this and I want to make a change.”

He adds: “The Conservatives have to go. If you agree, vote Labour on Thursday 29 February and send a message to the Conservative government; Labour is the choice for Britain.”

The leaflet which has gone to voters in Rochdale.
The leaflet which has gone to voters in Rochdale.
Labour Party

The leaflet also features a testimonial from Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor of Greater Manchester.

In it, he says: “This by-election is a chance to tell the government we demand change. Labour will give power back to our communities and invest in our public services and Azhar will be a strong voice for Greater Manchester and a powerful champion for Rochdale in parliament.”

Keir Starmer has been accused of acting too slowly in dumping Ali, but yesterday insisted he had been “decisive”.

He said: “It is a huge thing to withdraw support for a Labour candidate during the course of a by-election.

“It’s a tough decision, a necessary decision. But when I say the Labour party has changed under my leadership, I mean it.”


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