General election 2019: Labour candidate removed over anti-Semitism claims

Safia AliImage source, @Safia4Falkirk
Image caption,
Labour said it had removed Safia Ali as its candidate over Facebook posts

Labour has removed one of its general election candidates over allegations that she made anti-Semitic posts on Facebook.

Safia Ali had been due to stand for the party in the Falkirk seat in next month's election.

But Scottish Labour said it had taken "immediate action" to remove her as its candidate after the posts emerged.

It also expressed its "deep regret" that she had been selected to stand for the party.

Scottish Labour general secretary Michael Sharpe confirmed that the party had withdrawn its support from Ms Ali - although her name will still appear on the ballot paper because she was removed after the close of nominations.

But he said he would not go into specific details about her case.

Mr Sharpe added: "I deeply regret the people of the Falkirk constituency will no longer have a Labour candidate to campaign and vote for on 12 December.

"There is no place for anti-Semitism, or any form of racism and bigotry, in our party. That is why Labour is taking robust action to root it out of our movement and wider society."

Mr Sharpe insisted that the party had "significantly strengthened" its procedures, with "swift suspensions, new processes for rapid expulsions and an education programme for members".

BBC Scotland has been unable to contact Ms Ali for comment.

'Not complacent'

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard denied that anti-Semitism is rife throughout his party and suggested that the Facebook posts at the centre of the allegations against Ms Ali had escaped the party's attention during a trawl of her online activity.

On a visit to a community shop in Midlothian, Mr Leonard was asked five times by the BBC if he would like to apologise to the Jewish community.

He said those who had made anti-Semitic comments should do so, and insisted that Scottish Labour was "not complacent" about anti-Jewish racism in the party and was keen to root it out.

Scottish Labour came second to the SNP's John McNally at the 2017 election in Falkirk, trailing by 4,923 votes.

Labour has been embroiled in allegations of anti-Semitism for more than three years, with the chief rabbi claiming earlier this week that the party is not doing enough to root out anti-Jewish racism.

In an interview with the BBC's Andrew Neil on Tuesday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was asked four times whether he would like to apologise to the British Jewish community - but declined to do so.

However, Mr Corbyn has stressed that there is no place for anti-Semitism within Labour and said those guilty of anti-Jewish racism have been "brought to book".

Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives suspended their Glasgow Central candidate, Flora Scarabello, on Wednesday after she was accused of using "anti-Muslim language".

Last week, the Tories also suspended their candidate for Aberdeen North, Ryan Houghton, over allegations he had made anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and homophobic comments seven years previously.