Ken Livingstone: Board of Deputies lost me election

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone claims the Board of Deputies carried out "a hatchet job" to force him from power.

He believes the organisation collaborated with the Evening Standard newspaper ahead of the 2008 election campaign in order to "get rid" of him.

Mr Livingstone made the comments during an interview on JNET Radio on Sunday.

When asked what he believes the Jewish community's perception of him is, Mr Livingstone immediately replied: "It was a real hatchet job by the Board of Deputies and the Evening Standard who had a common interest in getting rid of me.

"A chunk of the Jewish community thinks I'm antisemitic. A chunk of the Jewish committees have always been sympathetic to me and then there are people that waver.

"If you have got a position which is controversial around the issue of Israel and Palestine then you will get it in the neck inevitably."

Mr Livingstone was heavily criticised ahead of the poll for welcoming Islamic cleric Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi to London and for comparing a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard.

Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies, laughed off Mr Livingstone's claims: "More than three million Londoners voted for candidates other than Mr Livingstone and each will have their own reasons for doing so.

"Clearly his time in the political wilderness has left him embittered and his judgement questionable if he thinks that conspiracy theories will impress anyone. He might consider that his welcome of extremists and quips about concentration camp guards might have had something to do with it."

Despite his criticisms, Mr Livingstone said he had "a huge amount of shared values" with the democratic Jewish state and had "loved" it when he visited on a two-week tour in 1985.

    Last updated: 2:23pm, March 25 2010