POLITICS

Kevan Jones Hits Out At 'Grossly Offensive' Mental Health Jibe By Ken Livingstone

18/11/2015 22:06 GMT | Updated 18/11/2015 22:59 GMT

An MP with a history of depression who was told by Ken Livingstone he needed psychiatric help has hit out at the former London mayor, deriding the original comment as "backward-looking and grossly offensive".

Kevan Jones, a Labour MP and shadow minister, hailed the "great strides" taken by his party's leader to reduce stigma around mental health issues, but warned they had suffered "huge damage" in the light of today's war of words.

The frontbench MP has previously suffered with depression, but in a heated one-on-one with his new defence review colleague lamented the "sad" views expressed, which were later apologised for.

Livingstone was forced to backtrack on his comments earlier in the day, after giving a string of defiant media interviews saying he did not regret his actions.

Jeremy Corbyn was forced to intervene personally, ringing Livingstone to urge him to apologise.

The former GLC-leader then proceeded to risk even further uproar, telling ITV News: "This guy shouldn’t pick a fight with people and then start wimping around".

But he finally tweeted an apology following Corbyn's angry intervention.

Speaking this evening on Channel 4 news, Jones said: "Jeremy Corbyn has worked very hard on this agenda."

"I think it's sad that in this day and age that somehow has passed Ken Livingstone by, that he can actually use such inflammatory language - and it's not just offensive to me I've got broad shoulders.

"What i feel sorry for are the millions of people out there who are struggling with mental illness who will just see his comments as both backward-looking and grossly offensive."

Livingstone rebutted by saying the row "isn't something I started", and insisted he would adhere closer to the "kinder politics" Corbyn has called on his party members to emulate.

"Jeremy phoned and said 'actually he's quite a decent guy' and reminded me that Jeremy's strategy is that we don't do all the offensive backstabbing and rows that we've had in the past... if I’ve upset anyone I'm really sorry.

"But this row isn't something I started, it's because I was attacked as not fit for this job.

"And you could have just picked up the phone and I'd have reminded you that for five years as leader of the GLC we were responsible for civil defence in London.

"And for four years after 9/11 we worked both with the military and the police to prepare for an attack on London.

"The idea I had no involvement or understanding of the military actions and their consequences is offensive."

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