Ken Livingstone says Labour anti-Semitism row is ‘complete diversion’

Corbyn ally Ken Livingstone fuels Labour anti-Semitism row by claiming fears about wave of vile abuse are a ‘complete diversion’

  • Corbyn’s Labour party has been wracked by a wave of anti-Semitism allegations
  • Ken Livingstone suspended from the party over linking Hitler with Zionism 
  • Former London Mayor has claimed the anti-Semitism row is ‘complete diversion’ 
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The backlash over anti-Semitism in Labour is a ‘complete diversion’, Ken Livingstone claimed today.

The former London mayor is suspended from the party over remarks he made linking Adolf Hitler and Zionism.

But he risked inflaming the row that has been wracking Labour by playing down concerns over abuse.

Mr Livingstone also insisted that he is still allowed to campaign in his local area for looming council elections.

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone is suspended from the party over remarks he made linking Adolf Hitler and Zionism (file picture)

Jeremy Corbyn was on the local election campaign trail in London yesterday – including visiting West Drayton (pictured)

The comments came after another Jeremy Corbyn ally, union baron Len McCluskey, accused moderate MPs of using anti-Semitism fears to ‘smear’ the leader. 

Mr Livingstone told LBC: ‘I’m not discussing anti-Semitism until after the election is all out the way because it is a complete diversion.

‘We had this last year in the run-up to the local elections then. We had it two years ago in the run-up to the election of Sadiq Khan.

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. 


‘It didn’t damage us at the last two local elections but it is a complete diversion.

‘Every Labour MP should just be focused now on getting out the Labour vote and winning council seats.’

Mr Livingstone avoided expulsion in April at a disciplinary hearing into his conduct but was suspended for a further year.

One of the flashpoints at a failed meeting between Mr Corbyn and Jewish leaders over anti-Semitism in Labour was the party’s handling of the former MP’s case.

The attempt to smooth relations with the community backfired for the Labour leader as leaders of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) accused him of failing to back his words with action.

But Unite union leader Mr McCluskey voiced ‘disgust’ at backbench Labour critics of Mr Corbyn, raising the prospect that those who have attacked him over issues like anti-Semitism could face mandatory reselection.

Dozens of Labour MPs marched in support of Jewish colleague Ms Smeeth as she prepared to give evidence at Mr Wadsworth’s disciplinary hearing.

Ahead of the hearing, Mr Wadsworth told reporters: ‘I’m confident, as I’m not guilty. Based on the facts, this hearing, if it’s fair, I will be exonerated.

‘I’m totally and utterly opposed to anti-Semitism, to all forms of bigotry, including anti-black racism and Islamophobia.’  

In an incendiary intervention, Mr McCluskey said a ‘small number’ of incidents were being ‘used’ to ‘attack and undermine’ the Labour leader. 

He also delivered a dark threat about moves to deselect anti-Corbyn politicians – saying ‘promiscuous critics’ should expect to be ‘held to account’.

But shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said it was ‘obvious’ the party has an issue with anti-Semitism and those who deny it are ‘part of the problem’.

‘I disagree with Len McCluskey. Jeremy Corbyn has made it clear, and it is obvious, that we have got a problem with anti-Semitism. We have got to deal with it robustly and effectively,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘Part of that is the disciplinary procedure, which needs to be much quicker and much more effective, but there is also a cultural question.

‘Part of that cultural question is to stop those denying that there is even a problem. That is part of the problem. So I am afraid I disagree with Len on this.’ 

Union baron Len McCluskey (file image) this week accused MPs of using anti-Semitism allegations to ‘smear’ Jeremy Corbyn



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