Ken Livingstone has been suspended by the Labour party after plonking himself firmly at the centre of the anti-Semitism row by once again stepping in to defend Naz Shah. The former London mayor said the Labour MP's remarks were 'over-the-top but they were not anti-Semitic'. During his interview with Vanessa Feltz, he added:
'Let's remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism and this was before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.'
Next up for Ken was the Daily Politics show, in which he tried again to defend his remarks. Ken told Andrew Neil:
'I've seen nothing to suggest to me that she is anti-Semitic. In 47 years in the party, I have never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic. There is not a problem. That is a handful in a party of half-a-million.'
After being confronted by John Mann, Ken was then slammed by the Labour MP on the Daily Politics. Mann told Livingstone he was a 'Nazi apologist and a worse historian'. Speaking on Daily Politics, Mann also said of Ken that:
'He is factually inaccurate. He should not be sat on Labour's national executive committee, he should be suspended as well'
Not content with those two disastrous media appearances, Ken appeared on the World at One, on which he again tried to explain away his remarks. He said his comment earlier in the day about Hitler being a Zionist was a 'statement of historical fact'. Ken went on to say:
'It is not inflammatory to tell the truth. I'm not going to deny that the Normans invaded Britain in 1066, we have to live with history'.
The Labour party finally announced that Ken had been suspended by the party. Speaking hours after the decision was made, Jeremy Corbyn broke his silence on the row to say that Ken had been suspended because of 'grave concerns about the language' he had used:
Meanwhile, some other Labour MPs also joined John Mann in speaking out against Ken Livingstone. At the dispatch box, Chris Bryant said
'Anti-Semitism is wrong, full stop, end of story. I am sick and tired of people trying to explain it away and yes, I'm talking to you, Ken Livingstone'
David Cameron also waded into the row. The Prime Minister commented that:
'It is quite clear, the Labour party has got a problem with anti-Semitism. And I think they've got to recognise that anti-Semitism is like racism, it is unacceptable in a modern political party.'