Labour hope­ful claims he is vic­tim of smear


A LEAD­ING can­di­date to suc­ceed Sir Ger­ald Kauf­man in Par­lia­ment pre­vi­ously com­pared Is­rael to the Nazis.

Afzal Khan, a Labour MEP, an­nounced he was run­ning to be the party’s can­di­date in the Gor­ton by-elec­tion and said he hoped to carry on the work of his late friend Sir Ger­ald, who died last month.

Dur­ing the 2014 Gaza con­flict, Mr Khan tweeted an ar­ti­cle with the head­line: “The Is­raeli gov­ern­ment are act­ing like Nazi’s [sic] in Gaza.”

On Tues­day, he told the JC his tweet had not been an en­dorse­ment of the ar­ti­cle.

“I have long since deleted this tweet and when this is­sue was raised with me last year I apol­o­gised for any of­fence caused,” Mr Khan said.

He claimed the episode was be­ing used to “smear” him, and cited his years of work on groups tack­ling an­ti­semitism as an ex­am­ple of his op­po­si­tion to ha­tred.

Com­plaints were made about the tweet last year, in­clud­ing by the Board of Deputies and Manch­ester Jewish Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil but Labour de­clined to take dis­ci­plinary ac­tion, say­ing only that he had been “re­minded of his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as a Labour rep­re­sen­ta­tive”.

Ahead of the European elec­tions in 2014, Mr Khan signed up to a five-point pol­icy pledge of anti-Is­rael mea­sures pro­moted by Labour Friends of Pales­tine.

A so­lic­i­tor, Mr Khan is a for­mer Lord Mayor and coun­cil­lor in the city. He is a long-stand­ing sup­porter of the Mus­lim Jewish Fo­rum of Greater Manch­ester, which he founded and pre­vi­ously cochaired. He told the JC: “In 2008 I was awarded a CBE for my work on com­mu­nity co­he­sion and in­ter-faith un­der­stand­ing. As an MEP I have con­tin­ued this work as a mem­ber of the par­lia­men­tary in­ter­group against an­ti­semitism. I will con­tinue work­ing to fight racism in all its forms, now and in the fu­ture.”

Manch­ester’s Gor­ton con­stituency is one of the safest Labour seats in Bri­tain. Sir Ger­ald held it with a ma­jor­ity of more than 24,000 at the 2015 gen­eral elec­tion.

Labour’s cho­sen can­di­date is due to be an­nounced next Wednes­day. Other hope­fuls in­clude a num­ber of coun­cil­lors from across Manch­ester and ac­tivists from the hard-left Mo­men­tum group.

Elaina Co­hen, a Jewish par­lia­men­tary ad­viser to a Labour MP, also in­tends to stand.

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