Tories give senior role to election candidate suspended over ‘Zionists’ posts

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Tories give senior role to election candidate suspended over ‘Zionists’ posts

Manchester Conservatives website confirms Sham Raja as deputy chair only months after being suspended by Bury Tories for sharing social media posts, including one comparing Israeli footballers to 'assassins'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Sham Raja - unendorsed by Bury Tories in April - is confirmed as deputy chairman of Manchester Conservatives
Sham Raja - unendorsed by Bury Tories in April - is confirmed as deputy chairman of Manchester Conservatives

A local council election candidate suspended by the Tories after sharing inflammatory social media posts about “Zionists” and Israeli “assassins” has been handed a senior role by Manchester Conservatives.

Sham Raja was unendorsed as Bury Conservatives local election candidate for the Sedgley ward in Prestwich, after a series of historic posts on social media came to light ahead of the election.

But just four months after the issue came to light, Raja’s appointment as Deputy Chairman Membership is confirmed on the official Manchester Conservatives website.

Raja was earlier revealed to have shared a Facebook post which suggested Israeli soldiers were responsible for “unborn children being ripped out of pregnant women.”

The same post also claimed “the media makes the Zionists look like the victim.”

Another historic post dating back to 2014, Raja had compared Israeli footballers to “assassins.”

The North West Friends of Israel tweeted in April that Raja was one of two local Tory candidates to have “shared posts supporting antisemitic boycotts of Israel” and who had “called Jewish Israeli athletes assassins and IDF murderers.”
In a statement issued on April 12 Bury Conservatives confirmed:”Mr. Sham Raja no longer has the endorsement of Bury Conservative Party in this election. ”

When Raja was later spotted at a local election event Bury Conservatives tweeted confirming:”We suspended Sham Raja from the Conservative Party as soon as the postings came to light. We have been clear that he should not, and does not, represent our party at events like these.”

Reacting to the appointment of Raja by Manchester Conservatives, Christian Wakeford, the Labour MP for Bury South, told Jewish News: “Contrary to the Conservatives saying Mr Raja had been unendorsed and suspended it appears that he has been awarded a senior role in Manchester.

“It shouldn’t come as any great surprise to see the Conservatives in Bury following the national party’s lead in saying one thing while doing another.”

On Friday Manchester Conservatives responded to Jewish News request for comment saying Raja was elected as Deputy Chairman Membership of Manchester Conservative Federation on 1st March 2022.

They said he was suspended from the party in April 2022 pending an investigation by the party.

Recent posts on Raja’s own Facebook page show that he has been actively promoting Rishi Sunak’s bid to become the next party leader.

He wrote on August 1st that Liz Trus would be “worse than Theresa May”, where she to be successful.

Earlier this month Raja was seen at event held to celebrate Pakistan Independence Day outside Bury Town, attended by local councillors and Bury North Tory MP James Daly.

A spokesperson for the Jewish Rep Council said on Friday:”The JRC were made aware that Sham Raja has been listed as Deputy Chair of Manchester Conservatives.

“We had thought this matter was closed following his appalling social media post led to the party’s endorsement being removed and his subsequent suspension.

“Upon being made aware we immediately raised this issue with the Party and trust it will be dealt with appropriately.”

Raja told Jewish News he had been a member of the Conservatives for over two decades. He said he was “not antisemitic” and said he lived amongst the Jewish community, many of who were his friends.

He said Bury and Manchester were “different” areas for the Tory party, and confirmed he was continuing to work in the deputy chair’s role in Manchester.

The Conservative press office were also contacted for comment.

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