Ken Livingstone on anti-Semitism row: I don't see what all the fuss is about

Posted On: 
5th April 2017

Ken Livingstone has once more refused to back down over his claim that Adolf Hitler supported Zionism and declared: "I don't know what all the fuss is about." 

Ken Livingstone arriving at yesterday's disciplinary hearing
Credit: 
PA

He spoke out shortly after Jeremy Corbyn announced that Labour's ruling National Executive Committee could re-open the investigation into his remarks.

A Labour internal disciplinary panel provoked outrage by finding Mr Livingstone guilty of bringing Labour into disrepute, but declining to expel him from the party.

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Instead, the National Constitutional Committee (NCC) opted to extend his current suspension from the party by another year.

The ruling was attacked by a host of senior party figures, including deputy leader Tom Watson and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

But Mr Corbyn said his close ally Mr Livingstone may face another probe over his actions in recent days – which include him refusing to apologise for his original comments about Hitler and accusing German Jews of “collaboration” with the Nazi regime before the start of World War II.

Mr Corbyn said: “Ken Livingstone’s comments have been grossly insensitive, and he has caused deep offence and hurt to the Jewish community."

'WHAT'S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?'

But speaking on LBC radio this afternoon, the former London mayor remained defiant, insisting his original remarks had been historically accurate.

Asked whether he had brought shame on his party, Mr Livingstone said: "Not at all. If you look at last week's edition of the Jewish News, there's an article, the headline is 'Ken shouldn't be expelled', the article explains I was misquoted by my critics, it goes on to explain that what I said was true and thankfully at the end reminded people of the Holocaust, because a lot of kids are growing up not knowing about it.

"So, if you can get that in the Jewish News I can't see what all the fuss is about."

He added: "You've never heard me not answer a question and I tell the truth. I may occasionally get it wrong, but the literal fact about all this is if you go on the Holocaust Memorial website in Jerusalem, and I don't think anyone's going to accuse them of being anti-Semitic, they've actually got a document about the agreement between Hitler and the Zionists in the 1930s.

"They acknowledged it was controversial and the Zionist leader who signed it was assassinated within a few weeks. But I didn't even criticise it, I just stated it was there as a fact."

'INSIDIOUS RACISM'

Meanwhile more than 100 Labour MPs and peers have signed a statement saying the NCC's decision has "betrayed" the party's values.

The signatories include Shadow Cabinet members Peter Dowd, Barry Gardiner, Angela Rayner and Baroness Smith.

The statement says: "This week the institutions of the Labour party have betrayed our values. We stand united in making it clear that we will not allow our party to be a home for anti-Semitism and Holocaust revisionism.

"We stand with the Jewish community and British society against this insidious racism. This was not done in our name and we will not allow it to go unchecked."