Ex-London mayor suspended in 'anti-Semitism' row

Ex-London mayor suspended in 'anti-Semitism' row
3 min read
28 April, 2016
Former London mayor Ken Livingstone has been suspended by the Labour Party over comments he made while defending an MP at the centre of an anti-Semitism row.
Criticism of Livingstone mounted when he appeared on BBC Radio London defending Naz Shah [Getty]
Britain's Labour Party has suspended Ken Livingstone after his attempt to defend Labour MP Naz Shah backfired and led to the former London mayor himself being accused of racism.

"Ken Livingstone has been suspended by the Labour Party, pending an investigation, for bringing the party into disrepute," a Labour spokesman said.

The decision comes after Livingstone told BBC radio: "When Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews".

"I have been in the Labour Party for 40 years and I have never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic.

"I have heard a lot of criticism for the state of Israel and its abuse of Palestinians, but I have never heard someone be anti-Semitic," he added.

The comments sparked outrage with fellow Labour MP who hurled a verbal tirade against Livingstone as he walked into a building among several media reporters.

MP John Mann accused Livingstone of being a "Nazi apologist" but the former mayor maintains he was not suggesting Hitler was a Zionist, confirming he was simply quoting historical "facts".

Livingstone was defending Labour lawmaker Naz Shah, who was suspended on Wednesday for sharing allegedly anti-Semitic posts on social media.

The Bradford West MP told the House of Commons on Wednesday she "profoundly" regretted the posts made back in 2014, before she became an MP.

Shah shared a graphic of Israel superimposed onto the United States under the words "Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict – Relocate Israel into the United States", adding the comment: "Problem solved."

She also used the hashtag #IsraelApartheid above a quote saying "Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal".

Shah has apologised for the posts and said that the language she had used was "wrong".

Shah and party leader Jeremy Corbyn had "mutually agreed that she is administratively suspended from the Labour Party," a party spokesman said.

     
      Shah's 2014 post was re-published by a political blogger [Facebook]

"Pending investigation, she is unable to take part in any party activity."

Corbyn called the comments "offensive and unacceptable", but initially declined to suspend Shah, a decision described as "quite extraordinary" by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Shah quit as a parliamentary assistant to shadow Chancellor John McDonnell on Tuesday before making the apology to parliament.

She was elected to Parliament last year for Bradford West, a northern England constituency with a large Muslim population.

Her 2014 posts were re-published this week by a right-wing political blogger.

"I accept and understand that the words I used caused upset and hurt to the Jewish community and I deeply regret that," she said, adding, "Anti-Semitism is racism, full stop."

Corbyn has been urged to distance himself from far-left activists accused of "anti-Semitism".