Prime Minister Theresa May has accused the Labour Party of “betraying” Britain’s Jewish community by letting former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone “off the hook”, following a disciplinary panel’s decision not to expel him over comments linking Hitler and Zionism.
Prime Minister May said: “A Labour Party which just this week revealed the depths to which it has now sunk, betraying the Jewish community in our country by letting Ken Livingstone off the hook”.
She added: “It could not be clearer that the Labour Party is now a long way away from the common, centre ground of British politics today”.
The Labour Party disciplinary panel decided to suspend Mr Livingstone for a further year, rather than expel him from the party.
In April 2016, Mr Livingstone was suspended for bringing the Labour Party into disrepute after stating in a BBC radio interview this morning that “Hitler was supporting Zionism”.
Mr Livingstone said: “Hitler was supporting Zionism… Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews”.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis accused the Labour Party of failing the Jewish community. He said: “This was a chance for the Labour Party to show that it would not tolerate wilful and unapologetic baiting of the Jewish community, by shamefully using the Holocaust as a tool with which to inflict the maximum amount of offence. Worryingly, the party has yet again failed to show that it is sufficiently serious about tackling the scourge of antisemitism. The Labour Party has failed the Jewish community, it has failed its members and it has failed all those who believe in zero tolerance of antisemitism”.
Following the disciplinary panel’s decision this week, Mr Livingstone compared the hearing to a North Korean court, and remained defiant over his comments: “I expected them to expel me so I’ve now got to consider whether I challenge this legally or just live with it. You can’t apologise for telling the truth. I will be launching a campaign to overturn my suspension of party membership”.
Prime Minister Theresa May has previously urged Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to tackle antisemitism, advising him during PMQs to “think very carefully about the environment that has been created in the Labour Party in relation to anti-Semitism”.
Prime Minister May referred to a report published in October 2016 by the Home Affairs Select Committee on anti-Semitism in the UK, which accused Jeremy Corbyn of lacking “consistent leadership” on the issue, creating “what some have referred to as a ‘safe space’ for those with vile attitudes towards Jewish people”.