Defiant Livingstone not to back down in Hitler row
April 29 2016 09:38 PM
Former London mayor Ken Livingstone leaves his home in London yesterday.

London Evening Standard/London

Defiant Ken Livingstone yesterday insisted he had done nothing wrong, as Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of Labour was plunged into fresh turmoil over the anti-Semitism row.
Livingstone was suspended by the party after claiming that Hitler supported Zionism “before he went mad” but Corbyn’s deputy went further and demanded new rules to purge anti-Semitism from the party.
Speaking to the Evening Standard exclusively yesterday, Livingstone stood by his controversial words. “Everything I said yesterday was true and I will be presenting the academic book about that to the Labour Party inquiry,” he said.
His defence is expected to rest on the writings of American Marxist historian Lenni Brenner, who claims there was collusion between the Nazis and early campaigners for a Jewish homeland.
Labour’s leader was hoping to regain the initiative after his worst crisis yet by arranging weekend TV interviews to announce a clamp on all forms of racism, including anti-Jewish comments.
But Tom Watson, his powerful elected deputy, pre-empted him yesterday morning with a radio interview calling for new party structures and selection rules.
Watson also condemned as “vile, offensive and crass” the comments made by Livingstone.
The ex-London mayor was later confronted outside BBC’s Millbank studios by Labour MP John Mann, who accused him of being a “Nazi apologist” in front of TV cameras.
The denunciation by Watson contrasted with the hesitation of Corbyn, who suspended his old friend Livingstone but has declined to say what should be done with him.
Watson left no doubt in the minds of MPs that he thinks Livingstone must renounce such views or be expelled.
Asked if he thought Livingstone’s comments were anti-Semitic, he said: “I personally think Livingstone was straying into that territory. They were certainly offensive and provocative. To link Hitler and Zionism like that must have been done to create offence.
“No one is in any doubt that his behaviour has let down the Labour Party, let down those thousands of candidates who are standing in an election next Thursday and caused deep offence, in particular to the Jewish community in Britain but also to people out there who expect the Labour Party to adhere to higher standards.” The party’s National Executive will decide Livingstone’s fate.
Watson said he and Corbyn had “both been talking to representatives of the Jewish community to look at whether Labour’s own structures can be improved to make sure that we send a very clear signal to people in our party that we will have a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism”.

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