Given that Ken Livingstone has been found guilty, we are deeply disappointed at the decision not to expel him from the Labour Party. A temporary suspension is no more than a slap on the wrist. Mr Livingstone’s inaccurate and antagonistic comments including over the past 40 years have had a huge impact on the Jewish community. We feel that the Labour Party should have had the courage to address this deeply offensive behaviour with a firmer penalty.
The deeply shocking decision by the Labour Party not to expel Ken Livingstone highlights Labour’s disregard for repairing the historic, but broken relationship with the Jewish community.
Mr Livingstone has angered members of the Jewish community in the UK, particularly the London community, through a series of comments, goading and ‘Jew-baiting’. He has made a number of arrogant assumptions, that at times mimic atrocious antisemitic tropes. Throughout his long career he has displayed a pattern of inexcusable behaviour that cannot simply be excused as eccentricity or the mutterings of a politician.
The Jewish Leadership Council has always said we will judge the Labour Party by their actions and not their words. This decision makes us question if the Labour Party wants to repair its historic and long standing relationship with the Jewish community. The fact that a politician of Ken Livingstone’s standing and experience can make such comments without consequence has made us lose hope of any justice from the Labour Party.
It is unacceptable for a national political figure to be let off the hook, despite shocking incidents, including Mr Livingstone comparing a Jewish reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard, sharing platforms with antisemitic and homophobic hate preachers such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi, claiming that Jews would not vote for him or the Labour Party due to ’being wealthy’ and finally his outrageous claim that Hitler was supporting Zionism. Mr Livingstone has shown no remorse throughout his suspension and since the start of his hearing has continued to make further outlandish claims.
We now call on Jeremy Corbyn - who is in a position of significant influence - to voice that Mr Livingstone’s views are unacceptable in his party.