Labour Party Splits Over Decision Not to Expel Ken Livingstone

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, is under pressure today to comment on the decision of the party not to expel Ken Livingstone. The party’s disciplinary panel decided yesterday to suspend the former London Mayor for one year, despite Livingstone himself expecting to be expelled.

Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, issued a statement fiercely attacking the decision:

“I find it incomprehensible that our elected lay members on the disciplinary panel found Ken Livingstone guilty of such serious charges, and then concluded that he can remain a member of the Labour Party.

When I read the words of chief rabbi Mirvis, who says that ‘the Labour Party has failed the Jewish community, it has failed its members and it has failed all those who believe in zero tolerance of anti-semitism’, I can’t disagree with him. I wish I could, but I can’t. I am ashamed that we have allowed Mr Livingstone to cause such distress.

It isn’t just Jewish people who feel disgusted and offended by what Mr Livingstone said and by the way he has conducted himself over this matter, and it isn’t just Jewish Labour members who feel ashamed of any indulgence of his views anywhere in the Labour Party. This shames us all, and I’m deeply saddened by it.

Mr Livingstone’s unrepentant media appearances in recent days have continued to discredit the party I love. His current behaviour is still bringing the Labour Party into disrepute. It is hard not to conclude that his use of inflammatory language to dismiss the fully justified outrage of the Jewish community and others will incite further distortions of the Holocaust in our public discourse.

My party is not living up to its commitment to have a zero tolerance approach to anti-semitism. I will continue the fight to ensure that it does, and I will press my colleagues to do so too”.

Lord Levy, a Labour Peer and former special envoy to the Middle East, said:

“Do I stay in the party? It is something that I’m going to reflect on very seriously. I am very upset with the party’s attitude. I do not believe there has been a zero-tolerance policy towards antisemitism”.

Jon Ashworth, the Shadow Health Secretary, Barry Gardiner, the Shadow International Trade Secretary and Sir Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, have all today said that Livingstone should have been expelled.