Labour candidate: Ken Livingstone's rich Jews claim 'offensive and wrong'

By Jennifer Lipman, March 22, 2012
Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone's "erroneous, wrong and offensive" claim that Jews won't vote Labour because they are rich has been condemned by a Labour Party candidate for the Greater London Assembly.

Andrew Dismore, until 2010 the Labour MP for Hendon and now the party's GLA candidate for Barnet and Camden, distanced himself from the m a yoral hopeful's comments to a closed meeting of Jewish Labour Party supporters.

According to a leaked copy of a letter from some of those present, Mr Livingstone "stated that he did not expect the Jewish community to vote Labour as votes for the left are inversely proportional to wealth levels, and suggested that as the Jewish community is rich we simply wouldn't vote for him."

He was also said by the authors to have "used the words Zionist, Jewish and Israeli, interchangeably, as if they meant the same, a pejorative manner".

Mr Dismore said that the former mayor had "always had a difficult relationship with the Jewish community" , but added that the assumption about Jews not supporting the party was incorrect.

He said that while Mr Livingstone was entitled to his views about Israel, "he certainly has no right to translate those view into a general condemnation of the Jewish community.

"The words Jewish, Israeli, and Zionist, are not interchangeable."

Mr Dismore said that now, as in the past, over issues such as Mr Livingstone's warm welcome of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, he had "significant differences with him on the Jewish community".

But he promised to hold him to account if he was elected, and still urged Jewish voters to back Labour at the elections in May, noting that Mr Livingstone, as mayor, would have "no say in foreign policy".

He said that he was willing to share a platform with Mr Livingstone because he had no dispute with him over the policy issues. "Despite everything I hope that he is elected because that is the best guarantee of delivering on fares, policing, housing and cost of living, which I think Jewish people would like to see. The problem is of course that the personality gets in the way."

Mr Dismore said he belived Ed Miliband, the Labour Party leader, should not comment on Mr Livingstone's attitude toward the Jewish community.

"It's a London Labour party issue," he said. "Ken has been adopted as a candidate and I don't really think that constitutionally Ed has really got anything he can say about it."

Last updated: 4:01pm, March 22 2012