Following early morning hysteria from the public and MP’s alike, Labour made the decision yesterday to suspend MP and former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone.
At 9am yesterday morning, Livingstone was on BBC London with Vanessa Feltz defending suspended MP Naz Shah.
Shah had been suspended just the day before on 27th April by Labour following the revelation of comments she made in 2014, prior to becoming an MP.
In August 2014 Shah shared a photo on Facebook arguing the ‘transportation costs’ would be worth it to relocate Israeli’s into the United States.
I am truly sorry and I will be putting out a more detailed explanation later. pic.twitter.com/x74FDKNCJE
— Naz Shah MP (@NazShahBfd) April 26, 2016
John Mann, the MP for Bassetlaw boldly commented, “The last person to propose a forced repatriation of this kind was Adolph Eichmann on August 15 in 1940 (the Madagascar plan).” Eichmann was of course one of the key orchestrators of the Holocaust. Whilst Mann’s comparison is of an extreme, his words do ring true to some extent, and were only made more poignant by Livingstone’s later comments.
Whilst debating with Feltz on the radio, Livingstone agreed Shah’s comments were ‘over the top’, but significantly not anti-Semitic.
Then to allow us to disregard any credibility Livingstone’s argument had, he threw his profoundly anti-Semitic opinions into the ring:
“It’s completely over the top [but] it’s not anti-Semitic. Let’s remember, when Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism. [He then] went mad and ending up killing 6 million Jews.”
Ken Livingstone (who’s anti-Semitic sentiment has been questioned in the past) asserting Hitler was a Zionist seemed to be the key issue that catalysed the debate to national outcry of disapproval of Livingstone and Labour’s apparent extreme views.
In the heated interview, he continued to protest that, “there has been a very well orchestrated campaign by the ‘Israel lobby’ to smear anybody who criticises Israeli policy as anti-Semitic.” Whilst it is certainly true that not all anti-Zionist sentiment directly reflects anti-Semitism, Livingstone, Shah and others’ association of the two is what has provoked this reaction towards them.
Furthermore, Livingstone continued his interview by deflecting from the issue of him seemingly being in agreement with Shah, by asserting the media has hyped this up as a continued campaign against Corbyn and his associates.
Labour candidate for London Mayor, Sadiq Kahn immediately and wisely (considering London’s Jewish population) denounced Livingstone’s comments:
Ken Livingstone’s comments are appalling and inexcusable. There must be no place for this in our Party.
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) April 28, 2016
Labour MP’s then began to call for Livingstone to be suspended:
Ken Livingstone has form on antisemitism and has been tolerated for far too long. He should be suspended immediately.
— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) April 28, 2016
John Mann was caught on camera letting Livingstone know his opinions on him – calling him a ‘Nazi-Apologist’:
Watch this. Extraordinary. John Mann MP: You’re a disgusting Nazi apologist, Livingstone’. pic.twitter.com/1wlbA1BmND
— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) April 28, 2016
Significantly, people close within the Corbyn camp came out to further denounce Livingstone – separating his opinions from the opinions of the Labour leader:
A period of silence from Ken Livingstone is overdue, especially on antisemitism racism & Zionism. It’s time he left politics altogether
— Jon Lansman (@jonlansman) April 28, 2016
At 1.39pm a party spokesperson said:
“Ken Livingstone has been suspended by the Labour party, pending an investigation, for bringing the party into disrepute.”
Jeremy Corbyn has come out and denied any Labour crisis after the image-scathing suspensions of Shah and Livingstone. However, he did say when referring to his long-time ally Livingstone’s actions:
“It’s not a crisis. There’s no crisis. Where there is any racism in the party it will be dealt with, it will be rooted out.”
Comment below with your opinion on this issue.