Livingstone, Hitler and the JC - our part in his downfall

Ken Livingstone is as wrong about the JC's role in his downfall as he is about Hitler and Zionism

April 03, 2017 23:37

It’s somewhat surreal to be accused by Ken Livingstone of fomenting an uproar against him by…reporting his words.

To be precise, Mr Livingstone told the BBC Today programme that he blames the JC for his current woes. He says that we did not report his words. We made them up, apparently, and for that he is now up before the Labour Party beaks.

Let’s be clear. Not once since he began his tour of radio and TV studios last April to share his view of Hitler and the Zionists with the rest of us – a tour that has so far lasted almost a year and shows no signs of ever stopping – has Mr Livingstone, or anyone connected with him, ever suggested a single inaccuracy in our reporting of his words.

Until today - when his latest line of defence is that no one really took any offence at anything he said until the Jewish Chronicle distorted his words and unleashed this whole saga.

Mr Livingstone’s version of this very recent history appears to be as accurate as his version of 1930s and 40s history.

This unedifying spectacle began on 28th April last year, when Mr Livingstone gave an interview to Vanessa Feltz in which he defended an antisemitic post by the Labour MP Naz Shah. (Ms Shah has emerged from all this with great credit, having learned from her mistake and done a huge amount to educate herself and others about some of the issues involved.)

Mr Livingstone then went on – unprompted by Ms Feltz – to start talking about Hitler and the Zionists.

His words were widely reported because they were so jaw-droppingly inaccurate as history – not to mention deeply and obviously offensive.

But what sent the story nuclear was the intervention of John Mann, a doughty campaigner against antisemitism, who confronted Mr Livingstone on the steps of 4 Millbank while the former Mayor of London was in the midst of what became a series of Hitler-based interviews. Mr Mann called him a “disgusting racist” and ‘Nazi apologist”.

The sight of a Labour MP directly confronting Mr Livingstone was gripping and compelling and both Sky News and the BBC News Channel spent the day giving it wall to wall coverage.

The JC reported the day’s events, entirely accurately, on our website. But much as I would love to claim the credit for drawing attention to Mr Livingstone’s bizarre nonsense ramblings – we are a news organization and our aim is to get people to see our stories – the idea is bonkers. It was the lead story on every TV and radio bulletin for the rest of the day, and was splashed across every newspaper the following day.

But there was not, as it happens, a single mention of any of this in that Friday’s edition of the JC – because we go to press on a Wednesday night, and the story didn’t happen until the next day.

So it was not until a week after Mr Livingstone had first started speaking about Hitler that the JC was first able to cover it in print. We covered it extensively, of course. But by then the intense furore was long over.

As I say, Mr Livingstone’s version of this appears to be as accurate as his version of 1930s and 40s history.

Mr Livingstone is entirely the author of his own downfall (if indeed he is expelled from Labour). He had the opportunity to apologise and say his history had been confused. Instead, he doubled down, taking every opportunity to mention Hitler and the Zionists in his interviews – an opportunity he still continues to seize, convinced it seems that he is right and every serious historian wrong.

And yet somehow, out of all the coverage his words have received over the past year, he has decided it is all the Jewish Chronicle’s fault.

One might wonder what conclusion can be drawn from that.


April 03, 2017 23:37

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