In the current toxic political climate, prospective MP Azhar Ali did not stand a chance from the very beginning.

The candidate for Rochdale began his election campaign quite positively. The Labour party had backed the candidate and high-profile party figures were out in force as he bid to become an MP for the first time.

At the campaign launch he wanted to be a ‘a strong voice for Rochdale’, and also offered to crackdown on anti-social behaviour, local maternity services being returned to Rochdale, and free breakfast clubs in every primary school.

But this was not an easy ride for anyone standing on the Labour ticket within an area with a high Muslim population.

Opposition to Labour however gained momentum. It is important to point out that this was not exclusively coming from Muslims but from Labour members of all backgrounds who felt the party was not doing enough to call out the actions of the Israeli Defence Forces.

With people turning their backs on Labour, Azhar quickly became a scapegoat for anyone wanting to ‘vent their anger’ at the party leadership which had refused again and again to condemn the actions of the Israeli government despite the growing evidence of atrocities.

How could a Muslim or for that matter of fact anyone, possibly back a party or a leader who did not have the empathy to call out the murder of innocent civilians?

What has happened in Rochdale over the past few weeks may well be repeated in constituencies across the UK in months to come.

In footage from a takeaway Azhar came face to face with the disdain for politicians over their stance on Gaza. Young residents could be seen shouting ‘Free Free Palestine’ to canvassers, as well as shouting 'F*** Labour'. A lone canvasser attempts to explain his stance and is shouted over.

The video was shared across WhatsApp and social media with people saying, ‘other Labour candidates would be handed the same treatment’.

They may never have met nor knew of Azhar Ali but there was now a growing hatred of the Labour Party over Gaza. A party which many in the community had backed for many years.

He was also doorstepped by Muslim journalists asking to simply explain why he would be supporting the party which had made little effort to speak out against the ongoing bombing of Gaza.

Despite the ongoing abuse, Labour supporters continued to back the party because they still felt it was the only way to make genuine change for their communities.

In a surreal week things turned on their head. He was then called out for being a trustee of the Jamia Sultania Mosque in Brierfield. Here, the mosque had been accused of hosting an ‘extremist’ speaker.

Azhar was forced to defend himself over the ‘dubious links’ saying he had ‘no part of the day-to-day management committee, nor does he support the views from extremist preachers’.

And then to this weekend when Azhar apologised again after he was recorded suggesting in a meeting of the Lancashire Labour Party that Israel had taken the October 7 Hamas assault as a pretext to invade Gaza.

Then there were further revelation when he was accused of saying ‘people in the media from certain Jewish quarters’ were ‘giving crap’ about MP Andy McDonald, who was suspended by Labour after he used the phrase “between the river and the sea” in a speech during a rally.

The party then turned its back on the candidate altogether with Sir Keir Starmer saying today he took ‘tough’ and ‘decisive’ action. A decision that appears to have been have been set aside for this particular constituency at this particular time.

In a polarised world candidates can be branded both ‘extremist sympathisers or sell-outs’. It really is a no-win situation.