Labour Party suspend Ken Livingstone amid anti-Semitism row

Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone. Picture: Getty Images
Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone. Picture: Getty Images
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LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn has denied his party is in crisis after Ken Livingstone was suspended by Labour for “bringing the party into disrepute” over comments about Hitler.

The party is launching an investigation into the former London mayor’s conduct after outraged senior Labour figures lined up to call for him to be kicked out.

Backbencher John Mann was also hauled in for a dressing down by party chief whip Rosie Winterton after he launched a furious face-to-face attack on Mr Livingstone, accusing him of being a “Nazi apologist”.

Mr Corbyn said that Mr Livingstone’s remarks would be investigated and dealt with by Labour’s General Secretary and National Executive Committee.

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The Labour leader told the BBC: “It’s not a crisis. There’s no crisis. Where there is any racism in the party it will be rooted out. I have been an anti-racist campaigner all my life.”

Asked, during an election visit to Hull, whether the party had a “problem with anti-Semitism”, Mr Corbyn replied: “No, there is not a problem. We are totally opposed to anti-Semitism in any form.

“The very small number of cases that have been brought to our attention have been dealt with swiftly and immediately, and they will be.”

Mr Livingstone’s suspension came after he took to the airwaves for a series of interviews in an attempt to defend Bradford West MP Naz Shah from allegations of anti-Semitism.

Ms Shah was suspended on Wednesday pending an investigation into controversial social media posts about Israel which she made before becoming an MP.

But Mr Livingstone insisted that while her remarks were “over the top”, she was not anti-Semitic, and that he had never encountered anti-Semitism in 40 years in the Labour Party.

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He sparked fury among colleagues by going on to claim that Hitler had supported Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews”.

Labour’s London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan described his comments as “appalling and inexcusable” and shadow cabinet member Chris Bryant told the House of Commons he was “sick and tired” of people trying to explain away anti-Semitism, adding: “Yes, I’m talking to you, Ken Livingstone.”

Labour MP Louise Ellmann welcomed Mr Livingstone’s suspension, but said it was “difficult to understand” why Mr Mann should face disciplinary action for confronting him.

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