Labour MPs’ fury at Corbyn over handling of Livingstone anti-Semitism

Labour MPs’ fury at Corbyn for not expelling Ken Livingstone in anti-Semitism row as ex-mayor hints at comeback just hours after quitting the party

  • Ex Mayor of London finally announced he was leaving the Labour Partylast night 
  • Corbyn has been slammed for allowing him to quit rather than be expelled 
  • Livingstone event hinted he could make a come back in the coming years 
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Jeremy Corbyn faced fury from Labour MPs today for allowing Ken Livingstone to resign rather than expelling him from the party over anti-Semitism. 

The MPs’ anger was fuelled as the ex-mayor of London hinted he could still make a comeback despite last night’s surprise decision.

Mr Livingstone finally quit Labour after more than two years of storms over his Hitler rants – but he remains unrepentant about claiming the Nazi dictator allied himself with Jews before ‘going mad’ in the Holocaust.

Mr Corbyn was under fire today for not acting himself as demanded by leading Jewish groups.

Instead, he last night paid tribute to his friend and said he was ‘sad’ at Mr Livingstone’s decision but accepted it was the ‘right thing to do’.


Ken Livingstone (file image) finally quit Labour after more than two years of storms over his Hitler rants – but he remains unrepentant about claiming the Nazi dictator allied himself with Jews before ‘going mad’ in the Holocaust


Jeremy Corbyn (pictured in London on Saturday) has faced repeated demands to kick his old ally out of Labour but always insisted party rules must be followed

Mr Livingstone risked further antagonising his critics by suggesting he could even apply to rejoin the party if the left broke the grip of the right which, he said, still dominated the party’s disciplinary machinery.

‘It depends on how long I live, doesn’t it? We will come back and talk about it in a couple of years,’ he told Sky News.

Backbencher Wes Streeting, who has been at the forefront of the campaign against anti-Semitism in Labour, said there must be no way back for the former mayor.

‘We must now make it clear that he will never be welcome to return. His vocal cheerleaders and supporters should follow him out the door,’ he said.

Fellow MP Ruth Smeeth, however, said the party should have acted years ago to remove Mr Livingstone following a series of alleged anti-Semitic incidents.

‘Ken Livingstone’s behaviour has been grossly offensive to British Jews,’ she said.

‘The truth is that Ken’s despicable and hurtful attitude should have seen him expelled years ago and the fact that it has taken this long to see him go beggars belief.’


Tory deputy chairman James Cleverly (file image) said Mr Corbyn should have kicked Mr Livingstone out of his party 

Following Mr Livingstone’s new comments, Tory deputy chairman James Cleverly said: ‘Ken Livingstone has really let the cat out of the bag now. Not only has he repeated his view that Hitler supported Zionism but he’s admitted that Jeremy Corbyn and him have never disagreed on anything and share all the same views.

Ken Livingstone’s resignation from Labour in full

In a statement on his website tonight, Ken Livingstone said:  ‘After much consideration, I have decided to resign from the Labour Party.

‘The ongoing issues around my suspension from the Labour Party have become a distraction from the key political issue of our time – which is to replace a Tory government overseeing falling living standards and spiralling poverty, while starving our schools and the NHS of the vital resources they need.

‘We live in dangerous times and there are many issues I wish to speak up on and contribute my experience from running London to, from the need for real action to tackle climate change, to opposing Trump’s war-mongering, to the need to end austerity and invest in our future here in Britain.

‘I do not accept the allegation that I have brought the Labour Party into disrepute – nor that I am in any way guilty of anti-Semitism. I abhor antisemitism, I have fought it all my life and will continue to do so.

‘I also recognise that the way I made a historical argument has caused offence and upset in the Jewish community. I am truly sorry for that.

‘Under Labour’s new General Secretary I am sure there will be rapid action to expel anyone who genuinely has antisemitic views.

‘I am loyal to the Labour party and to Jeremy Corbyn. However any further disciplinary action against me may drag on for months or even years, distracting attention from Jeremy’s policies.

‘I am therefore, with great sadness, leaving the Labour Party.

We desperately need an end to Tory ‘rule, and a Corbyn-led government to transform Britain and end austerity. I will continue to work to this end, and I thank all those who share this aim and who have supported me in my own political career.’

‘No wonder Corbyn is breaking his promise to deal with racist antisemitism in his party and refused to ask Ken to quit the Labour Party.

‘The Jewish community are right to say enough is enough but while Corbyn is in charge of the Labour Party it seems likely that Labour will remain a safe space for antisemitism.’

Mr Livingstone’s current suspension was the second handed down to him over a series of bizarre rants about Hitler and Zionism.

Mr Livingstone has always insisted that he said Hitler had supported Zionism at one time, not that Hitler was a Zionist. 

Expelling Mr Livingstone over the jibes was a key demand of leading Jewish groups, who insisted it would be a crucial symbol of Mr Corbyn’s commitment to tackling anti-Semitism. 

The row is thought by many in Labour to have cost the party the chance to seize Barnet Council for the first time ever at the local elections earlier this month. 

In his statement last night, Mr Livingstone said: ‘After much consideration, I have decided to resign from the Labour Party.

‘The ongoing issues around my suspension from the Labour Party have become a distraction from the key political issue of our time – which is to replace a Tory government overseeing falling living standards and spiralling poverty, while starving our schools and the NHS of the vital resources they need.’ 

The Labour veteran insisted he still did not accept the allegation he had brought the party into disrepute with his actions or that he was anti-Semitic. 

But he added: ‘I also recognise that the way I made a historical argument has caused offence and upset in the Jewish community.

‘I am truly sorry for that.

‘Under Labour’s new General Secretary I am sure there will be rapid action to expel anyone who genuinely has antisemitic views.

‘I am loyal to the Labour party and to Jeremy Corbyn. However any further disciplinary action against me may drag on for months or even years, distracting attention from Jeremy’s policies.





A number of Labour MPs tweeted to welcome Ken Livingstone’s exit from the party today


London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: ‘Let’s hope this draws a line under this issue and Labour will continue to focus relentlessly on making sure there is no place in our party for anyone with anti-Semitic views.’


Labour MP Stella Creasy slammed Mr Livingstone over his continued refusal to apologise.

‘I am therefore, with great sadness, leaving the Labour Party.’

What are the anti-Semitic incidents in Labour that have reached a crisis under Corbyn’s watch?

  • Jeremy Corbyn defended an artist who painted an anti-Semitic mural in 2012, questioning why the offensive art should be removed
  • He was a member of a Facebook group which was awash with anti-Semitic ‎rhetoric, and he has described anti-Semitic groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah as ‘our friends’
  • The Labour leader stood by when a speaker disrupted the launch of his party’s anti-Semitism policy by accusing a Jewish MP of colluding with the press 
  • Labour has still failed to expel former London mayor Ken Livingstone, two years after he claimed Hitler supported Zionism. He has still not apologised 
  • Delegates at last year’s Labour conference complained of a ‘witch hunt’ against anti-Semitism and heard from a speaker who said it was legitimate to question the Holocaust 
  • The problem is so rife in the party the Jewish Labour Movement has had to hold training sessions for party members on how not to be anti-Semitic 
  • Labour members and councillors have shared disgusting messages and images on Facebook describing Jewish people of controlling world capitalism and being to blame for the policies of the Israeli government 
  • The party is failing to deal with a huge backlog of complaints and has failed to expel people even though they have committed offences such as referring to Jewish people as Yids
  • Corbyn ally Len McCluskey, the Unite general secretary, has dismissed anti-Semitism claims as ‘mood music’ spread by Blairites.
  • Labour’s new general secretary Jennie Formby was accused of recruiting a party member suspended for saying Hitler was a Zionist god. 

Mr Corbyn said: ‘Ken Livingstone’s resignation is sad after such a long and vital contribution to London and progressive politics, but was the right thing to do.’ 

Following the resignation, Conservative MP Michel Fabricant told MailOnline: ‘Amazing that he regards the normal Labour Party as being ‘right wing elements’.

‘I would just call them ‘sensible elements’.

‘Just shows how far to the left – far from decency – many in the Labour leadership have become.’ 

As recently as last week, Mr Livingstone threatened to sue Labour if it expelled him over the row.

Appearing on TalkRadio, Mr Livingstone claimed shadow attorney general Shami Chakarabarti might be condemning him because she mistakenly thought he had said ‘Hitler was a Zionist’ rather than ‘Hitler supported Zionism’.

He told presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer: ‘Basically I have been retired for the best part of the last six years.

‘And the reason, well one reason I wasn’t expelled, I made it absolutely clear, if I am expelled I go to court and you haven’t got a chance of winning a court case in which you expel someone for stating historical fact but you don’t expel those Labour MPs who then lie and say I said Hitler was a Zionist.’ 

Speaking on Sky News earlier this month, Mr Livingstone admitted that the row over his remarks could have been ‘damaging’ to Labour – but only because of ‘smears’ that he had stated Hitler ‘was a Zionist’.

He insisted it was a historical fact that there was a ‘deal done’ between the Nazis and Zionists in the 1930s.

Hitler had wanted to eject Jews from Germany, and Zionists wanted to set up a state in Palestine, he said.

‘They collaborated,’ Mr Livingstone said. ‘They didn’t like each other but they collaborated to do that.’

Asked whether his insistence on linking Hitler to Jewish nationalists had contributed to Labour’s failure to gain in places like Barnet, Mr Livingstone said: ‘If anybody believes I said Hitler was a Zionist, yes.

‘That has been very damaging.’

Timeline: Ken Livingstone’s career 

1969: Ken Livingstone joins the Labour Party.

1971: Elected to Lambeth Borough Council.

1973: Gains a seat on the Greater London Council (GLC).

1981: Labour take control of GLC and Mr Livingstone is elected leader.

1986: After several high-profile clashes with Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government, the GLC is abolished.

1987: Mr Livingstone is elected MP for Brent East.

2000: He stands against official Labour candidate Frank Dobson to become Mayor of London.

2004: Wins the post again after being allowed back into the Labour fold.

2006: A High Court judge finds Mr Livingstone had made ‘unnecessarily offensive’ and ‘indefensible’ remarks likening a Jewish reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard. But he is cleared of bringing the office of mayor into disrepute.

2008: Loses City Hall to Tory Boris Johnson.

2012: Is again beaten to the mayor’s job by Mr Johnson.

2016: Suspended from the Labour Party for claiming Hitler supported Zionism in the 1930s ‘before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews’.

2017: Avoids expulsion from the Labour Party at a disciplinary hearing, but is suspended for another year.

March 2018: Suspension extended again as new disciplinary probe launched.

May 2018: Mr Livingstone resigns from Labour. 

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