Ken Livingstone: Ruling expected in Labour misconduct case


Ken Livingstone: Ruling expected in Labour misconduct case

Image copyright PA

Ken Livingstone has said he is hopeful Labour will not expel him for comments about Hitler and a Jewish state.

The ex-London mayor is facing an internal disciplinary hearing over his controversial claim the German dictator supported Zionism in the 1930s.

The two-day misconduct panel is expected to deliver a verdict later.

Mr Livingstone has defended his remarks, saying there had been "real collaboration" between Nazis and Zionists before World War Two.

But he said claims he had said Hitler was a Zionist were "fake news".

  • Livingstone Hitler comments 'inaccurate'

The Holocaust Educational Trust said Mr Livingstone was "promoting a misleading and misinformed version of history to further his agenda".

He faces a charge of engaging in conduct that was grossly detrimental to the party.

Arriving for the second day of the hearing, he said he believed the process had been "fair", adding "as long as the truth prevails, we'll be ok".

The row erupted in April 2016, when he was defending Labour MP Naz Shah over accusations she had made anti-Semitic social media posts.

He told BBC London: "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."

This sparked criticism from historians, Jewish groups and Labour colleagues and he was later confronted outside the BBC's studios by Labour MP John Mann, who accused him in front of TV cameras of being a "Nazi apologist".

Mr Livingstone was suspended from Labour by party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Anti-Semitism and Zionism

  • Anti-Semitism is "hostility and prejudice directed against Jewish people" (OED)
  • Zionism refers to the movement to create a Jewish state in the Middle East, corresponding to the historic land of Israel – anti-Zionism opposes that
  • Some say "Zionist" can be used as a coded attack on Jews, while others say the Israeli government and its supporters are deliberately confusing anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism to avoid criticism

What's the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism?

In a written submission to his disciplinary hearing, Mr Livingstone accused Labour of pursuing the case against him in a "partisan" way and suggested there was a witch hunt aimed at critics of Israel.

Arriving on the first day of the two-day hearing, which is taking place behind closed doors, he repeated his comment that Hitler had supported Zionism, adding that the Nazi paramilitary SS had set up training camps for German Jews so they "could be trained to cope with the very different sort of country when they got there".

Mr Livingston's original comment was described as inaccurate by Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder in a BBC article in April.

Prof Snyder said to say Hitler supported Zionism was "categorically false and reveals a total and fundamental misunderstanding of what Hitler's anti-Semitism was all about".

Commenting ahead of Mr Livingstone's hearing, Karen Pollock, the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: "Even when it has been made blatantly clear that his comments have caused deep hurt and offence to Jewish people, and in particular to Holocaust survivors, still Ken Livingstone has persisted down this route – repeatedly invoking the Holocaust, promoting a misleading and misinformed version of history to further his agenda.

"Enough is enough."

And speaking on the BBC's Daily Politics, Mike Katz, the national vice-chairman of Jewish Labour, said he was repeatedly asked on the doorstep when canvassing in Jewish areas "has Ken been expelled yet?"

"The nub of the case is the reputational damage that Ken Livingstone's comments, both in April and this morning, have done to the Labour Party," he said, adding that it was hard to see Mr Livingstone's latest comment as anything but anti-Semitic.

But Jonathan Rosenhead, of Free Speech on Israel, said that to say you could not talk about Israel in the same context as Nazism "is to restrict political discussion – we need free speech".