Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodd has shown her support for a fellow Labour MP who is under pressure for his remarks about Israel.

Ms Dodds joined Wigan MP Lisa Nandy at the weekend as they campaigned for Labour’s Rochdale by-election candidate Azhar Ali in the Greater Manchester town.

Mr Ali is Labour’s candidate following the death last month of sitting MP Sir Tony Lloyd.

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He has apologised after a recording emerged of him in a meeting of the Lancashire Labour Party appearing to suggest that Israel deliberately lowered its guard to use the Hamas terror attacks as a pretext to invade Gaza.

Oxford Mail:  Labour by-election candidate for Rochdale, Azhar Ali, who has apologised for his deeply offensive comments Labour by-election candidate for Rochdale, Azhar Ali, who has apologised for his deeply offensive comments (Image: PA)

His remarks, reported in the Mail on Sunday, have led to calls for Labour to take action.

Last Wednesday at his campaign launch in Rochdale, Mr Ali, made an OBE for public service in 2020, told the media he had tackled the issue of extremism and antisemitism in his role as a government adviser on countering extremism and terrorism.

He said: “I don’t want to be a candidate that divides communities. I want to be a candidate that brings communities together.

“I was involved in calling it out after 7/7 and before.

“I’ve taken on the BNP and the EDL, I’ve had death threats myself, so you know, I’m not going to take any lessons from anyone saying to me, ‘you know you’ve not called it out’.

"I’ve been there at the sharp end and still am.

“I work very closely with all communities and the Jewish community to make sure there’s no discrimination, there’s no antisemitism or Islamophobia and we can be a united community.”

Ms Dodds, who is chairwoman of the Labour Party as well as the MP for Oxford East, was out campaigning for Mr Ali in the Rochdale constituency.

Oxford Mail: Anneliese DoddsAnneliese Dodds (Image: Anneliese Dodds)

She has not responded when contacted for comment nor used X, formerly known as Twitter, to make statements on the issue.

Mr Ali, who is also a Lancashire County Councillor, has apologised to the Jewish community and retracted his remarks, which he described as “deeply offensive, ignorant and false”.

The Tories have called for the aspiring MP’s campaign to be suspended and his Labour Party membership removed.

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, was at the launch of Mr Ali’s bid to become the local MP, who he praised for tackling antisemitism and Islamophobia.

But Labour shadow minister Nick Thomas-Symonds said he believed Mr Ali, had fallen “for an online conspiracy theory”, he told BBC’s Radio 4’s Today programme.

The Oxford Mail has asked Ms Dodds why she is backing Mr Ali and whether she thinks campaigning for him will cause offence to those who were offended by his remarks within her own constituency. 

A spokesman for Ms Dodds said she campaigned before Mr Ali's comments came to light.