POLITICS

Ken Livingstone Hitler Suspension 'Too Lenient' And Should Be Reviewed, Say Labour NEC Members

Letter sent to Labour's general secretary.

10/04/2017 10:21 BST | Updated 10/04/2017 10:22 BST

Ken Livingstone’s punishment for his comments about about Hitler and Zionism was “for too lenient” and should be reviewed, two members of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) have said.

Last week Livingstone escaped expulsion from the Labour Party and instead had another year added to his current suspension. 

The decision by Labour’s national constitutional committee (NCC) caused uproar and was widely condemned by Labour MPs who said the former London mayor should have been kicked out of the party.

PA Wire/PA Images

In a letter to Labour’s general secretary Iain McNicol, seen by The Huffington Post UK, NEC members Nick Forbes and Alice Perry demanded the NCC revisit its decision.

“We understand that Mr Livingstone remains a member of the party and as such is free to attend Labour branches, his local CLP meetings, canvass on behalf of Labour Party candidates, sign nomination papers, appear on Labour Party leaflets while at the same time continuing to hold and share views that are causing great offense to Jewish communities,” they said.

Forbes and Perry, writing on behalf of Labour Local Government, said the sanction was “far too lenient in this case”.

The pair added: “The Labour Party is responsible for running the administrations of over one hundred local authorities in Britain and as such we carry an enormous responsibility to foster community relations, to develop community cohesion and to take a strong stand against intolerance. The decision of the NCC is not compatible with that responsibility.”

Last year Livingstone told BBC Radio London that Hitler had supported Zionism in the 1930s before he “went mad and ended up killing six million Jews”.

Despite widespread criticism from Labour MPs, Livingstone stood by his comments and repeated the claim in other TV appearances.

Livingstone was judged by the NCC to have brought the party into disrepute and found guilty on the three counts he faced. But was not expelled.  

Jeremy Corbyn has said Livingstone could face further disciplinary action for subsequent comments made about Hitler and Zionism. 

Letter to Iain McNicol from Nick Forbes and Alice Perry:

Dear Iain,

We are writing on behalf of Labour Local Government to request an NEC review into the decision taken by the NCC panel to suspend Mr Livingstone from holding office and representation within the Labour Party for two years for breaching Labour Party rules. We believe that this sanction is far too lenient in this case. We are proud that as a party we subscribe to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism.

We understand that Mr Livingstone remains a member of the party and as such is free to attend Labour branches, his local CLP meetings, canvass on behalf of Labour Party candidates, sign nomination papers, appear on Labour Party leaflets while at the same time continuing to hold and share views that are causing great offense to Jewish communities.

The Labour Party is responsible for running the administrations of over one hundred local authorities in Britain and as such we carry an enormous responsibility to foster community relations, to develop community cohesion and to take a strong stand against intolerance. The decision of the NCC is not compatible with that responsibility. Mr Livingstone’s experience as Mayor of London should have made him far more aware than most members of the importance of the words we use when talking about minority communities. Labour councils make strenuous efforts to build and maintain strong community relations and Mr Livingstone’s words undermine this work.

The Labour Party relies on discipline to function as a party and elected officials such as Labour councillors across the country are expected to measure up to our high standards. Mr Livingstone a former MP, Councillor, NEC member and Mayor of London, appears to have been measured by a much lower standard and we think that calls into question the appropriateness of the NCC’s sanctions.  

We hope that we can have a discussion about this at the soonest possible date and that the NEC will agree to review the sanctions

Yours sincerely

Cllr Nick Forbes Cllr Alice Perry

CC

Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP
Tom Watson MP
Labour Party National Executive Committee
Labour Group Leaders