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Ken Livingstone finally quits Labour over Hitler rants

Ken Livingstone finally quit Labour tonight more than two years after he triggered the anti-Semtism crisis that has engulfed Jeremy Corbyn by ranting about Hitler.

The ex-Mayor of London has been suspended from Labour since his extraordinary rants ahead of the 2016 local elections.

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Mr Corbyn has faced repeated demands to kick his old ally out of Labour but always insisted party rules must be followed. 

Announcing his resignation tonight, an unrepentant Mr Livingstone admitted his suspension for alleged anti-Semitism had become a ‘distraction’.

But he insisted he was not guilty of the charges against him – confessing to causing offence with the way he had argued Hitler had once supported Zionism.  

Mr Corbyn said he was ‘sad’ at Mr Livingstone’s decision but accepted it was the ‘right to do’. 

The row began when Mr Livingstone repeatedly claimed that Hitler allied himself with Jews wanting to move to Israel before he ‘went mad’ and committed the Holocaust.

Ken Livingstone finally quit Labour tonight more than two years after he engulfed Jeremy Corbyn in an anti-Semitism crisis by ranting about Hitler

Jeremy Corbyn has faced repeated demands to kick his old ally out of Labour but always insisted party rules must be followed

Jeremy Corbyn has faced repeated demands to kick his old ally out of Labour but always insisted party rules must be followed

In a statement, Mr Livingstone said: ‘After much consideration, I have decided to resign from the Labour Party.

‘The ongoing issues around my suspension from the Labour Party have become a distraction from the key political issue of our time – which is to replace a Tory government overseeing falling living standards and spiralling poverty, while starving our schools and the NHS of the vital resources they need.’ 

The Labour veteran insisted he still did not accept the allegation he had brought the party into disrepute with his actions or that he was anti-Semitic. 

Ken Livingstone’s resignation from Labour in full

In a statement on his website tonight, Ken Livingstone said:  ‘After much consideration, I have decided to resign from the Labour Party.

‘The ongoing issues around my suspension from the Labour Party have become a distraction from the key political issue of our time – which is to replace a Tory government overseeing falling living standards and spiralling poverty, while starving our schools and the NHS of the vital resources they need.

‘We live in dangerous times and there are many issues I wish to speak up on and contribute my experience from running London to, from the need for real action to tackle climate change, to opposing Trump’s war-mongering, to the need to end austerity and invest in our future here in Britain.

‘I do not accept the allegation that I have brought the Labour Party into disrepute – nor that I am in any way guilty of anti-Semitism. I abhor antisemitism, I have fought it all my life and will continue to do so.

‘I also recognise that the way I made a historical argument has caused offence and upset in the Jewish community. I am truly sorry for that.

‘Under Labour’s new General Secretary I am sure there will be rapid action to expel anyone who genuinely has antisemitic views.

‘I am loyal to the Labour party and to Jeremy Corbyn. However any further disciplinary action against me may drag on for months or even years, distracting attention from Jeremy’s policies.

‘I am therefore, with great sadness, leaving the Labour Party.

We desperately need an end to Tory ‘rule, and a Corbyn-led government to transform Britain and end austerity. I will continue to work to this end, and I thank all those who share this aim and who have supported me in my own political career.’

But he added: ‘I also recognise that the way I made a historical argument has caused offence and upset in the Jewish community. I am truly sorry for that.

‘Under Labour’s new General Secretary I am sure there will be rapid action to expel anyone who genuinely has antisemitic views.

‘I am loyal to the Labour party and to Jeremy Corbyn. However any further disciplinary action against me may drag on for months or even years, distracting attention from Jeremy’s policies.

‘I am therefore, with great sadness, leaving the Labour Party.’

Mr Corbyn said: ‘Ken Livingstone’s resignation is sad after such a long and vital contribution to London and progressive politics, but was the right thing to do.’ 

Mr Livingstone’s current suspension is the second handed down to him over a series of bizarre rants about Hitler and Zionism.

Mr Livingstone has always insisted that he said Hitler had supported Zionism at one time, not that Hitler was a Zionist. 

Expelling Mr Livingstone over the jibes was a key demand of leading Jewish groups, who insisted it would be a crucial symbol of Mr Corbyn’s commitment to tackling anti-Semitism. 

The row is thought by many in Labour to have cost the party the chance to seize Barnet Council for the first time ever at the local elections earlier this month. 

The Jewish Leadership Council and British Board of Deputies is expected to comment on Mr Livingstone’s resignation later. 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: ‘Let’s hope this draws a line under this issue and Labour will continue to focus relentlessly on making sure there is no place in our party for anyone with anti-Semitic views.’ 

Labour MP Stella Creasy slammed Mr Livingstone over his continued refusal to apologise.

She said: ‘Distraction? No they were completely unacceptable and need to be recognised formally as such. 

‘This is why important the investigation into his comments continues so that we can be clear they have no place in Labour and would bar someone from returning too.’ 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: 'Let's hope this draws a line under this issue and Labour will continue to focus relentlessly on making sure there is no place in our party for anyone with anti-Semitic views.'

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: ‘Let’s hope this draws a line under this issue and Labour will continue to focus relentlessly on making sure there is no place in our party for anyone with anti-Semitic views.’

Labour MP Stella Creasy slammed Mr Livingstone over his continued refusal to apologise.

Labour MP Stella Creasy slammed Mr Livingstone over his continued refusal to apologise.

Labour MP Wes Streeting adding to Huffington Post: ‘Ken Livingstone’s exit from the Labour party is welcome, but he should have been expelled.

What are the anti-Semitic incidents in Labour that have reached a crisis under Corbyn’s watch?

  • Jeremy Corbyn defended an artist who painted an anti-Semitic mural in 2012, questioning why the offensive art should be removed
  • He was a member of a Facebook group which was awash with anti-Semitic ‎rhetoric, and he has described anti-Semitic groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah as ‘our friends’
  • The Labour leader stood by when a speaker disrupted the launch of his party’s anti-Semitism policy by accusing a Jewish MP of colluding with the press 
  • Labour has still failed to expel former London mayor Ken Livingstone, two years after he claimed Hitler supported Zionism. He has still not apologised 
  • Delegates at last year’s Labour conference complained of a ‘witch hunt’ against anti-Semitism and heard from a speaker who said it was legitimate to question the Holocaust 
  • The problem is so rife in the party the Jewish Labour Movement has had to hold training sessions for party members on how not to be anti-Semitic 
  • Labour members and councillors have shared disgusting messages and images on Facebook describing Jewish people of controlling world capitalism and being to blame for the policies of the Israeli government 
  • The party is failing to deal with a huge backlog of complaints and has failed to expel people even though they have committed offences such as referring to Jewish people as Yids
  • Corbyn ally Len McCluskey, the Unite general secretary, has dismissed anti-Semitism claims as ‘mood music’ spread by Blairites.
  • Labour’s new general secretary Jennie Formby was accused of recruiting a party member suspended for saying Hitler was a Zionist god. 

‘We must now make it clear that he will never be welcome to return.’ 

Conservative MP Michel Fabricant told MailOnline: ‘Amazing that he regards the normal Labour Party as being ‘right wing elements’.

‘I would just call them ‘sensible elements’.

‘Just shows how far to the left – far from decency – many in the Labour leadership have become.’ 

As recently as last week, Mr Livingstone threatened to sue Labour if it expelled him over the row.

Appearing on TalkRadio, Mr Livingstone claimed shadow attorney general Shami Chakarabarti might be condemning him because she mistakenly thought he had said ‘Hitler was a Zionist’ rather than ‘Hitler supported Zionism’.

He told presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer: ‘Basically I have been retired for the best part of the last six years.

‘And the reason, well one reason I wasn’t expelled, I made it absolutely clear, if I am expelled I go to court and you haven’t got a chance of winning a court case in which you expel someone for stating historical fact but you don’t expel those Labour MPs who then lie and say I said Hitler was a Zionist.’ 

Speaking on Sky News earlier this month, Mr Livingstone admitted that the row over his remarks could have been ‘damaging’ to Labour – but only because of ‘smears’ that he had stated Hitler ‘was a Zionist’.

He insisted it was a historical fact that there was a ‘deal done’ between the Nazis and Zionists in the 1930s.

Hitler had wanted to eject Jews from Germany, and Zionists wanted to set up a state in Palestine, he said.

‘They collaborated,’ Mr Livingstone said. ‘They didn’t like each other but they collaborated to do that.’

Asked whether his insistence on linking Hitler to Jewish nationalists had contributed to Labour’s failure to gain in places like Barnet, Mr Livingstone said: ‘If anybody believes I said Hitler was a Zionist, yes.

‘That has been very damaging.’



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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