EXCL Labour urged to expel Ken Livingstone for taking part in Holocaust debate on Press TV
Labour is under fresh pressure to expel Ken Livingstone after he appeared on an Iranian state-sponsored TV channel to debate whether the Holocaust has been "exploited to oppress others".
Wes Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North, said the former London mayor's removal from the party was "long overdue".
Mr Livingstone was initially suspended by Labour in 2016 after claimed that Adolf Hitler was a Zionist "before he went mad and murdered six millions Jews".
That suspension was continued for another 12 months following a Labour party disciplinary hearing last April.
Appearing on Press TV - a channel that has been stripped of its licence by broadcast regulator Ofcom - shortly before Holocaust Memorial Day, Mr Livingstone reiterated his view that the claims he made about Hitler were historically accurate.
He also claimed that his suspension from Labour was down to a "political struggle" and had "nothing to do with anti-Semitism".
"When I was suspended by the Labour party bureaucracy I couldn’t walk down the street without Jewish people coming up to me and saying ‘we know what you said is true, what’s all this about? Don’t these MPs read their history?’," he said.
"Very often these accusations, they’re nothing to do with anti-Semitism, It’s about political struggle inside the Labour party.
"It’s appalling and if I was a millionaire I could sue people and papers for saying these things."
Labour MPs lined up to condemn Mr Livingstone's decision to take part in the programme.
Wes Streeting told PoliticsHome: "Ken Livingstone knows exactly what he's doing when he appears on Press TV to make inflammatory remarks about the Holocaust. The only question that remains is why Ken Livingstone remains associated the Labour Party. The time for his expulsion is long overdue. He continues to bring our party into disrepute."
Bassetlaw MP John Mann, chair of the all-party group against anti-semitism, told PoliticsHome: “It’s hugely inappropriate and can only be seen as calculated to offend.”
Labour Friends of Israel - a group which includes a number of high-profile MPs - said the fact Mr Livingstone had not been expelled from the party "makes a mockery of its disciplinary processes".
LFI director Jennifer Gerber told PoliticsHome: "Ken Livingstone well knows Iran’s appalling record of Holocaust denial. To have appeared on its international mouthpiece to debate such an offensive topic, just days before Holocaust Memorial Day itself, shows once again his utter insensitivity toward the Jewish community.
"His continued membership of the Labour party makes a mockery of its disciplinary processes and Jeremy Corbyn’s claim to be tackling antisemitism."
CST, a group that campaigns against anti-Semitic abuse and violence, also condemned Mr Livingstone for appearing on the "sick" programme.