Ken Livingstone lashed out at ‘the establishment and old Blairite MPs’ today, accusing them of trying to kick Jeremy Corbyn out of Labour for telling the ‘truth’ about the party’s anti_Semitism problem.
The former London mayor told MailOnline that the decision to suspend the hard Left former party leader yesterday was not fair and was ‘all about getting rid of a socialist leader’.
His comments came as new Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tries to see off a factional civil war over the action against Mr Corbyn, who claimed anti-Semitism had been ‘dramatically overstated for political reasons’ by his critics.
Mr Livingstone, 75, who was in charge of the Capital from 2000 to 2008, was also censured by the report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which found he was guilty of ‘unlawful harassment’ of Jews in 2016.
A furious Sir Keir Starmer today said Jeremy Corbyn could be expelled from Labour over his response, but he faces a stand-off with Corbynista MPs and trade unionists who have vowed to fight the suspension.
Mr Livingstone attacked the suspension today, saying: ‘It isn’t fair because what Jeremy said is true.
‘We have not had a major problem with anti-Semitism in the party, we had a small number, somewhere between 250 and 300 members who tweeted something anti-Semitic.
The former London mayor (pictured today) told MailOnline that the decision to suspend the hard Left former party leader yesterday was not fair and was ‘all about getting rid of a socialist leader’.
A furious Sir Keir Starmer today (left) said Jeremy Corbyn (right) could be expelled from Labour over his response, but he faces a stand-off with Corbynista MPs and trade unionists who have vowed to fight the suspension
Furious Sir Keir Starmer says Jeremy Corbyn could be EXPELLED from Labour
An investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found Labour was responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.
But Mr Corbyn rejected some of the equality watchdog’s findings and claimed the issue had been ‘dramatically overstated for political reasons’ by his critics.
That prompted him to be suspended from the party pending investigation and Sir Keir warned this morning that the probe could result in his predecessor being kicked out of Labour for good.
Sir Keir insisted ‘there is no reason for a civil war in our party’ but the decision to suspend Mr Corbyn has caused a damaging and growing split.
Allies of Mr Corbyn warned Sir Keir that ‘Jeremy has an army behind him and a lot of legal funding’ while Unite the union boss Len McCluskey hit out at the decision and said ‘a split party will be doomed to defeat’.
‘Under Jeremy’s newly appointed general secretary they were kicked out of the party. He dealt with the problem really quickly.’
He added: ‘The establishment and the old Blairite MPs desperately want to get rid of Jeremy and this is one of the things they ramped up. What is appalling about this is that it causes so much concern in the Jewish community.
‘It’s all about getting rid of a socialist leader.’
Labour will now conduct a formal investigation into the comments made yesterday by Mr Corbyn.
Sir Keir was pushed on whether that probe could end with the former leader being expelled.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘There is a process that will now go through the governance and legal unit, there are a possible number of sanctions.’
Asked if one of the options is expulsion, Sir Keir replied: ‘Yes, people have been expelled from the Labour Party. There have been I think 827 cases since I became leader which is more than all of the cases in 2019 and in a third of those cases people have been expelled.
‘But it is not for me to say what process should be followed, that is for the General Secretary, or what sanction is in order.’
However, Corbynites poured around £10,000 into a ‘legal fund’ for the former Labour leader on Thursday alone.
The donations were made to a Go Fund Me site set up in July by a supporter after Mr Corbyn faced legal action for criticising the party’s decision to apologise and pay damages to anti-Semitism.
The total now in the fund exceeds £360,000, even though the target remains £20,000.
Asked if he thought the investigation in to Mr Corbyn would be fair, Mr Livingstone added: ‘It will have to be because Jeremy has enough money to sue if they screw it up.’
Ms Shah in 2014 shared a graphic which was headlined ‘Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict – Relocate Israel into United States’ and she added: ‘problem solved’
The former London mayor and Greater London Council leader resigned as a Labour member in May 2018, two years after being suspended over a rant about Hitler.
The row began when Mr Livingstone repeatedly claimed that Hitler allied himself with Jews wanting to move to Israel before he ‘went mad’ and committed the Holocaust.
It caused uproar and calls for his expulsion.
Mr Livingstone is a longstanding ally and supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, and had a strained relationship with the Labour leadership under Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.
He was picked out in the EHRC report over a 2016 row about anti-Semitic Facebook posts by Naz Shah 2014, before she was Bradford West MP.
She shared a graphic which was headlined ‘Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict – Relocate Israel into United States’ and she added: ‘problem solved.’
In a series of apologies, Ms Shah admitted the posts were not ‘excusable’ and vowed to help build relations between faith communities in penance for her statements.
But as the row broke out, Mr Livingstone went public to back her, even though she had apologised.
The EHRC report noted: ‘He sought to minimise their offensive nature by stating that they were merely criticism of Israeli policy at a time of conflict with the Palestinians.
‘He also alleged that scrutiny of Naz Shah’s conduct was part of an apparent smear campaign by ”the Israel lobby” to stigmatise critics of Israel as anti-Semitic, as well as being aimed at undermining and disrupting the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn MP. These comments were made on radio shows with large audiences.’
It added: ‘Ken Livingstone’s comments, set out above, were unwanted conduct related to Jewish ethnicity.’