Jeremy Corbyn today condemned Ken Livingstone’s “grossly insensitive” comments about Hitler and Zionism as he revealed Labour officials would launch a new probe into the former London mayor’s behaviour.
Corbyn criticised Livingstone’s “offensive remarks” and said his conduct during the disciplinary process – during which time he tried to claim the support of historical fact and attacked the Jewish Chronicle newspaper – would be considered by the party’s ruling national executive committee (NEC).
The Labour leader spoke out on a day of growing anger among MPs and activists over the sanctions imposed at yesterday’s internal hearing. Livingstone escaped expulsion from the party and instead saw his suspension from the party extended for another year after the national constitutional committee (NCC) found his conduct had been “grossly detrimental” to Labour.
Today Tom Watson, Corbyn’s deputy, described the punishment handed out by the NCC as “incomprehensible” while backbencher Tulip Siddiq wrote to the party leader demanding an emergency meeting of the NEC to review the “insufficient” decision.
This afternoon Corbyn responded to concern over Livingstone when he said people were “understandably upset that he has continued to make offensive remarks” and confirmed the former mayor and Brent East MP would face a new inquiry.
“Ken Livingstone’s comments have been grossly insensitive, and he has caused deep offence and hurt to the Jewish community,” Corbyn said in a statement.
“Labour’s independently elected National Constitutional Committee has found Ken guilty of bringing the party into disrepute and suspended him for two years.
“It is deeply disappointing that, despite his long record of standing up to racism, Ken has failed to acknowledge or apologise for the hurt he has caused. Many people are understandably upset that he has continued to make offensive remarks which could open him to further disciplinary action.
“Since initiating the disciplinary process, I have not interfered with it and respect the independence of the party’s disciplinary bodies. But Ken’s subsequent comments and actions will now be considered by the national executive committee after representations from party members.”