Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, has avoided expulsion from the Labour party, following his claims last year that Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism to rid Germany of Jews.
The leniency of the decision surprised even Livingstone himself and provoked huge anger from centrist MPs who accuse him of bringing the party into disrepute.
An internal panel found him guilty of three counts of engaging in “prejudicial” or “grossly detrimental” conduct but sentenced him only to a further 12 months of not being able to hold office within the party.
John Woodcock, a Labour MP, said the “pathetic” decision was “an important moment for Labour members: Do we stand for decency against this or are we part of the decay?”
Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan, said it was a “sad day for this movement”.
Livingstone, a longtime friend of the party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, argues that he never claimed that Hitler was a Zionist, only that the German dictator supported the Zionist movement in the early 1930s. He was suspended from Labour last April but raised the prospect of legal action if he was expelled. His punishment leaves him as a member of the party able to attend branch meetings and vote in elections but unable to stand for election until April 2018.
“As I’m not seeking to return to parliament or to stand for the local council, it doesn’t make a great deal of change,” Livingstone said in London. “I felt the whole thing was like a court in North Korea, no one was listening to anything we were actually saying . . . They’ve dropped all the charges that I’m antisemitic.
The Holocaust Educational Trust, a charity, called the decision “a slap on the wrist for a serial offender. That a mainstream political party would consider these views to be welcome within their ranks simply demonstrates that antisemitism is not taken as seriously as all other forms of racism and prejudice.”Wednesday, April 05, 2017