OPINION - The Standard View: Sir Keir Starmer must withdraw support from Labour's Rochdale candidate

 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

It is all a Jewish conspiracy, you see. Labour’s candidate for the Rochdale by-election, Azhar Ali, told a party meeting that Israel had “deliberately” allowed the October 7 massacre — in which Hamas murdered 1,200 people and took more than 240 hostage — to go ahead to give them “the green light to do whatever they bloody want”.

Mr Ali has somewhat unconvincingly withdrawn his absurd and antisemitic claims. This leaves Sir Keir Starmer in a bind. Since he assumed the Labour leadership, Sir Keir has made rooting antisemitism out of his party a top priority. Yet it is too late for Mr Ali to be removed from the ballot, and waiting in the wings is George Galloway, forever hoping to chance his way back into Parliament.

Ultimately, Sir Keir must withdraw his support for Mr Ali and, should he be elected, ensure he cannot take the Labour whip. Anything less would be to support these dangerous views built on the backs on anti-Jewish hatred.

True justice for all

A sick pensioner prosecuted for not paying a TV licence while caring for his gravely ill wife. A domestic abuse victim fined after her controlling boyfriend failed to insure the car. These are the result of the Single Justice Procedure (SJP), a controversial and secretive fast-track court system, where hearings are held behind closed doors, mitigations are missed and magistrates spend as little as 90 seconds considering cases.

A long-running Standard investigation, led by our courts correspondent Tristan Kirk, has uncovered a series of extraordinary cases where no reasonable observer could conclude that justice had been done. Our reporting has resulted in changes — the conviction of a woman with Down’s syndrome for failing to pay her TV licence has been overturned. But this is only the start.

The Lady Chief Justice Lady Carr has agreed to investigate the SJP after the Standard raised concerns about vulnerable and mentally ill people being prosecuted without legal representation or additional support. The SJP is producing great hardship and eroding confidence in the justice system — it must face urgent review to ensure all receive justice worthy of the name.

Keeping the flame

They have lit the way for more than a century, yet were facing the scrapheap. But now, four gas lamps in Covent Garden, erected to celebrate the reign of George V, have been granted Grade II listed status. This paves the way to save hundreds more from the threat of electrification.

The switch to cleaner burning technologies is usually the right one. Yet exceptions must be made for historical artefacts. Arguing for anything less would amount to gaslighting.