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No Labour crisis says Corbyn, as Livingstone is suspended for remarks about Hitler

Labour leader denies party harbours anti-Semites

By PA Political Staff

Published 29/04/2016

Ken Livingstone is besieged by reporters in London yesterday after he was suspended from the Labour party
Ken Livingstone is besieged by reporters in London yesterday after he was suspended from the Labour party

Jeremy Corbyn has denied Labour is in crisis after Ken Livingstone was suspended for "bringing the party into disrepute" over comments about Hitler.

The party is investigating the former London mayor's conduct after outraged senior Labour figures urged him to be kicked out.

Backbencher John Mann was also hauled in for a dressing down by party chief whip Rosie Winterton after he launched a furious face-to-face attack on Mr Livingstone, accusing him of being a "Nazi apologist".

Mr Corbyn said Mr Livingstone's remarks would be investigated and dealt with by Labour's General Secretary and National Executive Committee.

The Labour leader told the BBC: "It's not a crisis. There's no crisis. Where there is any racism in the party it will be dealt with and rooted out. I have been an anti-racist campaigner all my life."

Asked, during an election visit to Hull, if the party had a "problem with anti-Semitism", Mr Corbyn replied: "No, there is not a problem. We are totally opposed to anti-Semitism in any form within the party.

"The very small number of cases that have been brought to our attention have been dealt with swiftly and immediately, and they will be."

Mr Livingstone's suspension came after he took to the airwaves for a series of interviews in an attempt to defend Bradford West MP Naz Shah from allegations of anti-Semitism.

Ms Shah has been suspended pending an investigation into social media posts about Israel she made before becoming an MP.

But Mr Livingstone insisted that while her remarks were "over the top", she was not anti-Semitic, and that he had never encountered anti-Semitism in 40 years in the Labour Party.

He sparked fury among colleagues by going on to claim that Hitler had supported Zionism "before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews".

Within minutes of his BBC London interview, Labour MPs - including several members of the shadow cabinet - were queuing up to demand his suspension or removal from the party.

Labour's London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan called his comments "appalling and inexcusable" and shadow cabinet member Chris Bryant said he was "sick and tired" of people trying to explain away anti-Semitism, adding: "Yes, I'm talking to you, Ken Livingstone."

Mr Livingstone was harangued by Mr Mann as the pair arrived at broadcast studios in Westminster's Millbank.

As Mr Livingstone attempted to conduct a radio interview, the Bassetlaw MP accused him of being a "Nazi apologist" and attempting to "rewrite history".

The party later said in a statement that Ms Winterton had "made it absolutely clear to John Mann that it is completely inappropriate for Labour Members of Parliament to be involved in very public rows on the television".

Belfast Telegraph

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