UPDATE: Ken Livingstone has been suspended from the Labour Party and will be investigated over his comments.
Ken Livingstone is today facing calls to be suspended from Labour after a series of public comments about anti-semitism in the party.
Over 20 Labour MPs, including a number of frontbenchers and Sadiq Khan, the candidate for London Mayor, have publicly called for Livingstone to be suspended, as has Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones and the Jewish Labour Movement. Labour peers and former Ed Miliband aides Stewart Wood and Spencer Livermore have also suggested he should be suspended.
Following the suspension of Naz Shah yesterday, Livingstone has made a series of media appearances where he has said that he does not believe Shah has made any anti-semitic comments, says he has never heard any anti-semitic comments in the Labour Party and that accusations of anti-semitism are a “well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticised Israeli policy as anti-semitic”. He also said that Adolf Hitler was a Zionist in the 1930s.
Today Livingstone told the BBC: “Naz is not anti-Semitic – she was completely over the top, what she said was rude, but I literally, during the 47 years I’ve been in the Labour Party, I’ve never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic”.
Livingstone is currently re-running for Labour’s NEC, and has already secured enough nominations from constituency Labour parties (CLPs) to be on the ballot when members vote in the summer. While the exact rules are unclear, LabourList understands that if he was suspended and reinstated by the time nominations close on June 24, he would remain on the ballot – but if he is suspended at that point would not be. He is also co-convening Labour’s foreign policy review.
The list of Labour figures calling for Livingstone’s suspension are:
Sadiq Khan, London Mayor candidate
Seema Malhotra, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Lucy Powell, Shadow Education Secretary
Luciana Berger, Shadow Minister for Mental Health
Chris Bryant, Shadow Leader of the Commons
Carwyn Jones AM, Welsh Labour leader
Kezia Dugdale MSP, Scottish Labour leader
Kate Green, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities
Jon Ashworth, Shadow minister without portfolio
Nia Griffith, Shadow Wales Secretary
Conor McGinn, Labour whip
John Mann, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on anti-semitism