Skip to main content

UK: Controversial pro-Israel activist Luke Akehurst selected for Labour safe seat

Akehurst was described as ‘one of the best in the inside’ by Israeli embassy official over his support for Israel within Labour
Labour has become increasingly intolerant of anti-Israel voices since Keir Starmer became leader (AFP)

Labour has selected a controversial pro-Israel activist to contest the safe seat of North Durham in the UK general election on 4 July.

Luke Akehurst is an ardent and decades-long pro-Israel activist within the party, and a member of its national executive committee.

He was also a leading member of the party’s wing that sought to remove leftist Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

Akehurst featured in an Al Jazeera documentary about the Israeli lobby in the UK, in which an Israeli embassy official described him as the “one of the best in the inside” of the Labour Party.

Shai Masot was filmed vouching for Akehurst’s pro-Israel credentials to an undercover reporter working with the network.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


“Luke Akehurst is the director of We Believe in Israel. He’s a great guy… I know him, he’s a great friend,” Masot says.

“He’s one of the best in the inside. In all the party. Seriously, there is not a lot of people like him.”

Akehurst has been a source of controversy over his pro-Israel views, including for his comments that Jackie Walker, a Jewish anti-Israel activist, was having an “inner conflict” between her Black and Jewish heritage because of her anti-Zionist views.

In the run-up to his selection, Akehurst is believed to have deleted hundreds of posts on social media.

Screenshots of tweets attributed to Akehurst have appeared on X, including one from 2021 in which he appears to justify Israel's killing of Palestinian protesters in Gaza and another in which he calls the UN antisemitic.

Middle East Eye has approached the Labour Party for comment.

Left-wingers suspended

The decision to select Akehurst comes as Labour confirmed that Faiza Shaheen would not be standing for the party in Chingford and Woodford Green in London, for liking tweets critical of the Israel lobby.

Left-wing stalwart Diane Abbott also says that she has been banned from standing for Labour, but the party denies that a decision has been made.

Faiza Shaheen: Jon Stewart shocked after Labour drops candidate for liking old skit
Read More »

Under Corbyn’s successor, Keir Starmer, Labour has shifted to the right politically and adopted a pro-Israel stance.

Starmer was a strong supporter of Israel’s war on Gaza, and in October he appeared to back its decision to cut off food and water supplies to Palestinians in the besieged territory, a war crime under international law.

The Labour leader has since softened his stance and his party now advocates for a humanitarian ceasefire.

Polls show that the party has lost considerable support among the Muslim community, which has traditionally been a core Labour demographic, over its support for the war.

In one poll, up to a third of Muslims said they would not be voting for the party in the upcoming election.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.