22 May 2018

Ken Livingstone resigns from the Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn has sacrificed Ken Livingstone to appease those making fake antisemitism allegations.

On 21 May 2018, the twice elected Mayor of London, former leader of the GLC and former Labour MP, Ken Livingstone resigned from the Labour Party. From 1981 onwards no elected-into-office Labour politician has done more to advance progressive politics.

In 2016 Livingstone was accused of antisemitism on account of his remark on television that Adolf Hitler "was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”

This comment was indeed disastrously ill-expressed. It is true that there was a temporary alignment of purpose between some Zionists and the Third Reich in the pre-war years, both parties seeking the departure of Jews from Germany. And as regards the other part of his remark, for Ken Livingstone to dismiss the holocaust as merely the result of the mental state of Hitler is cruelly inadequate.

Livingstone can certainly be 'accused' of pointing to a concealed aspect of historical Zionism, of opposing the Zionist project, of supporting Palestinian rights and of criticism of Israeli government policy. But so what? The whole case against Livingstone only blew up because of an anti-Corbyn alliance comprising the Blairite right of the Labour Party on the one hand, and by organisations representing the Israeli government on the other.

Ken Livingstone is no antisemite and he was wrongly accused. It is therefore a betrayal of him and of principle that Jeremy Corbyn should welcome the departure of his former ally from the Labour Party. In sacrificing his old ally Corbyn may hope that he has appeased his critics so the fake antisemitism allegations will stop, but there is the likely danger that all he has done is to embolden their attacks.

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