Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, has quit the Labour Party following on-going disciplinary action. Livingstone said that he did not though accept comments he made were anti-semitic, although he apologised for any offence caused.
Livingstone said in a statement:
“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… 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 anti-Semitism, 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 anti-Semitic 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”.
Livingstone’s decision comes two weeks after Shami Chakrabarti, the Shadow Attorney General, said that he should be expelled following his comments and behaviour. She said:
“It is very difficult to see that any rational decision-maker in the light of what has happened in the last two years could find a place for Mr Livingstone in our party at this moment”.