Ken Livingstone sidelined from Labour's defence review

Posted On: 
15th January 2016

Ken Livingstone will not jointly chair Labour’s defence policy review, it emerged today.

Ken Livingstone

Shadow Defence Secretary Emily Thornberry will lead the inquiry alone – not, as suggested previously by Mr Livingstone and the Labour party, alongside the former Mayor of London.

The defence paper, which was launched today, will feed into a wider National Executive Committee review on foreign policy being chaired by Mr Livingstone and Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn.



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Once that foreign policy paper is concluded, it will go to the National Policy Forum and later be approved at a party conference.

The revelation that there is no co-chair of the defence review apparently comes as news to Mr Livingstone, who has conducted a number of interviews on the basis that he would be leading the review.

Last week Labour was forced to deny that the review would look into the UK’s membership of Nato after comments from Mr Livingstone.

He had said: “That’s one of the things we will look at. There will be many people wanting to do that.”

Mr Livingstone first announced his appointment in November, when pro-Trident MP Maria Eagle was Shadow Defence Secretary.

He said at the time: "We have been friends and good friends right the way through the last 35 years. We’ll have no trouble working together."

Jeremy Corbyn has also addressed questions on the basis that Mr Livingstone would be co-chairing the review and Labour has never previously challenged Mr Livingstone's claims to be co-chairing the review. 

But it now turns out he will be working alongside Mr Benn, not the Shadow Defence Secretary. 

“This is my report and it will be given to the International Commission, of which Ken is a co-convener”, Ms Thornberry said. 

A Labour source told PoliticsHome Mr Livingstone's role “hasn’t changed”.  


Labour’s review will focus on four areas: Britain’s place in the world, threats to Britain’s security, capabilities, spending and choices on military and security forces, and protecting jobs associated with the defence industry. 

Ms Thornberry said: “It’s a great privilege to be leading Labour’s defence review, at Jeremy Corbyn’s request. This will be a comprehensive review of Britain’s defence challenges and options for the 21st century. It will be open, transparent and inclusive, and its conclusions will be based on the evidence.

“We will encourage the widest possible participation of Labour party members and affiliates, as well as defence specialists, NGOs and the armed forces. At every stage of the process, we will give full scope to the wide range of views on this subject in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust.”