Ken Livingstone defends Hitler row comments and attacks ‘media lies’


Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London, has accused the media and “Blairite” MPs of distorting his claim that Hitler was a “Zionist”.

During an interview on Sky News this afternoon, Mr Livingstone – who was suspended from the Labour party last week after his comments – claimed that he had been targeted by a “nonsense” campaign, adding that it has “dominated the newspapers for days”.

Sky interviewer Dermot Murnaghan asked Mr Livingstone whether he had held private discussions with leader Jeremy Corbyn in the past week. “Did he ever tell you: ‘Okay, I may agree with you on your historical analysis, but please shut up’?” asked Mr Murnaghan.

Mr Livingstone denied that any such an exchange had taken place, but went on to defend his comments in which he had claimed Hitler initially supported moving Jews to Israel.

“For a lot of people, it is a shock to discover there had been that relationship,” he said. “It’s historically true.

“The simple reality of all of that is we shouldn’t be ashamed of some of the mistakes our government have made in the past. I don’t think the people of Israel need to be ashamed of what happened 80 years ago.”

Asked whether his comments had cost vital Labour votes, Mr Livingstone said: “It certainly is going to be tighter than it would have been before all this nonsense and the embittered old Blairite MPs…

“I still think Sadiq is going to win but it’s made it more difficult for him.”

He claimed critical MPs “distorted” and “lied” about his views. He added: “This is one thing I found so annoying about so much of our media – the media just repeat all the lies.

“It takes you all of half an hour, if you go on the internet, to find that there are dozens of Jewish historians who have said exactly what I’ve said. Six months ago, the prime minister of Israel said the same thing.”

In October, Benjamin Netanyahu had claimed Hitler only decided to carry out the Final Solution after being convinced by a Palestinian leader.

Speaking at the World Zionist Congress, the Israeli prime minister said the plan to exterminate European Jews was developed after the Nazi leader met the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini.

Mr Netanyahu claimed al-Husseini had travelled to Germany and warned the Nazi leader that merely expelling Jews would lead to mass arrivals in British Mandate Palestine.

During the Sky broadcast, Mr Livingstone went on to tell critical Labour MPs to put “aside their hatred” of Mr Corbyn.

“What we want to see is an election of a Labour government in 2020,” he said.

Mr Corbyn later appeared on the broadcast. Asked whether he should step down in the face of Labour losses, he defended his “mandate” to lead the party.

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