Quitting on his own terms

THE disappearance of Ken Livingstone from the Labour Party is welcome news. The sad thing is that he was able to dictate his own terms by resigning, rather than Jeremy Corbyn expelling him for remarks that smacked of antisemitism. Remember, too, he has form when it comes to offending Jews. Livingstone also had the gall not only to apologise for his comments but to insist: “I do not accept the allegation that I have brought the Labour Party into disrepute — nor that I am in any way guilty of antisemitism. I abhor antisemitism, I have fought it all my life and will continue to do so.”

Really? Was that why, in 2005, he asked a national newspaper reporter with an obviously Jewish surname: “What did you do before? Were you a German war criminal?” When the journalist responded, “No, I’m Jewish, I wasn’t a German war criminal and I’m actually quite offended by that”, Livingstone persevered: “Well you might be [Jewish], but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard, you are just doing it because you are paid to, aren’t you?” Do those sound like the words of someone who claims to have fought antisemitism all his life and abhors it? We leave it for readers to judge.

Once again, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has allowed an issue surrounding antisemitism to fester without taking decisive action. At the very least Livingstone’s persistent snipes about the Holocaust are grossly offensive and surely not to be tolerated by Britain’s second largest political party. The fact that Corbyn did not move rapidly to expel Livingstone makes him equally culpable. The former London mayor has been allowed to leave the party with what little dignity he has intact, and that should never have been the case.

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