Sir Keir Starmer is coming under huge pressure to reveal who was present when the party’s disgraced former Rochdale candidate Azhar Ali repeated anti-Semitic conspiracy theories at a Labour meeting.
A letter to Labour’s chairwoman Anneliese Dodds has gone from Lancashire’s Conservative MPs warning that the issue is “no trivial matter”.
There are allegations that the meeting where Ali made his vile claims that Israel deliberately allowed Hamas to kill hundreds of its own citizens was attended by Labour councillors, parliamentary candidates and possibly MPs.
Now Tory MPs want to know who was present, what action each individual took and, if they did nothing, have demanded Labour kicks them out of the party too.
The issue exploded after Starmer was forced to withdraw support for Ali as Labour’s candidate in Rochdale in a public humiliation having initially sent leading members of his shadow cabinet including deputy leader Angela Rayner and chief election coordinator Pat McFadden to stand by him.
Critics have said that the reluctance to react more quickly and try to stand by Ali have made Starmer “look foolish” but worse still it has appeared to destroy claims by the Labour leader that he had ended the anti-Semitic legacy of the former leader Jeremy Corbyn who he attempted to get elected as Prime Minister in 2017 and 2019.
In the letter, the nine Tory Lancashire MPs said: “Engaging in such conspiracy theories is clearly dangerous. Not only does it speak to Mr Ali’s unsuitability for public office, but it also reduces the scope for legitimate criticism of Israel based in fact.
“That these comments were made in private but not publicly raises the possibility that Labour candidates are not being honest with the public about their views, towing the party line for political patronage but saying the opposite when it suits them.”
They went on: “We want to seek clarification from the Lancashire Labour Party on the following points: First, were any other Lancashire Labour MP’s, county or borough councillors, or parliamentary candidates at that meeting, if yes, will you release those names publicly?
“Second, did those MPs, councillors or candidates speak up to oppose Mr Ali’s conspiratorial comments, or report them to relevant authorities in the Labour Party?
“Third, where in Lancashire did this meeting take place?”
They added: “This is no trivial matter. We as Lancashire Conservatives want to see an end to this conflict through a sustainable ceasefire. We are not however blind to how this conflict started and engaging in conspiracy does nothing to further the cause of a lasting peace.”
Signatories include former Tory chairman Sir Jake Berry, ex-defence secretary Ben Wallace, space envoy David Morris, and fellow MPs Sara Britcliffe, Andrew Stephenson, Antony Higginbotham, Katherine Fletcher, Mark Menzies and Paul Maynard.
Sir Jake said: “It is vital that the Labour Party reveals who has been complicit in this disgusting display of antisemitism and did nothing to call it out. Labour claim to have changed. This proves that whatever they say, Keir Starmer is just the new leader of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.”