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Decision not to expel Livingstone 'shames us all', says Tom Watson

Labour's deputy leader says party has failed the Jewish community

    Tom Watson
    Tom Watson

    Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson has said the failure to expel Ken Livingstone from his party over his Hitler and Zionism remarks “shames us all.”

    Meanwhile the JC understands a number of Labour MPs are writing to the chair of the party's National Executive Committee calling for an "immediate review of the decision and process".

    Jewish Labour Movement sources said a "significant section" of the Parliamentary Labour Party wanted action to be taken. 

    Dozens of party MPs have expressed their anger about the result of yesterday's disciplinary hearing.

    In a further development, a Labour source said MPs were also signing a "public statement of disgust at Ken decision and saying 'not in my name'". The JC understands the intention is to put "maximum pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to do something".

    In a damning assessment of Labour’s disciplinary body Mr Watson said he could not understand how Mr Livingstone could be found guilty of “serious charges” and yet still be allowed to remain a member of the party.

    Referring to Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’s statement accusing Labour of failing the Jewish community, Mr Watson said: “I can’t disagree with him. I wish I could, but I can’t.

    “I am ashamed that we have allowed Mr Livingstone to cause such distress.

    “It isn’t just Jewish people who feel disgusted and offended… and it isn’t just Jewish Labour members who feel ashamed of any indulgence of his views anywhere in the Labour Party.

    “This shames us all, and I’m deeply saddened by it.”

    Mr Watson also hit out at Mr Livingstone’s frequent appearances on television and elsewhere in the media over recent days which he said was “bringing the party into disrepute.”

    He added: “My party is not living up to its commitment to have a zero tolerance approach to antisemitism. I will continue the fight to ensure it does.”

    Mr Livingstone was censured by a party disciplinary panel for suggesting that Hitler had supported Zionism before the Second World War, and suspended for a further year, having already served a year's suspension.

    Following the decision last night, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said Labour had failed the Jewish community and all those who believed in zero tolerance of antisemitism.

    Baroness Chakrabarti, the Shadow Attorney General, said she was “horrified” at Ken Livingstone’s remarks since the decision was made last night, and suggested he could face further action from Labour Party..

    She defended the initial ruling saying “he was rightly found guilty and suspended.

    “However his remarks since yesterday have overtaken those arguments.

    “I am horrified by his lack of contrition and repeated offence which could be potential grounds for further investigation by the party.”

    She added: “In the meantime I can only implore Mr Livingstone to maintain a silence and to stop further damaging community relations to the party which he has given so much has given so much of his life and himself.”

    Andy Burnham, Labour's candidate to be mayor of Manchester, said he found the outcome "profoundly depressing", and called for the party to "revisit its decision and take more appropriate action". 

    Sadiq Khan, Labour's mayor of London, said the failure to expel Mr Livingstone was "deeply disappointing".

    Earlier, Tulip Siddiq, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, wrote to Mr Corbyn saying the result of the disciplinary hearing was "intolerable". 

    She said party members "have contacted me in despair. They have seen this as the final straw and have terminater their membership".

    Ms Siddiq urged the Labour leader to ask the NEC to convene an emergency session to review the decision.

    Andrew Dismore, former Hendon MP and now a Labour London Assembly member, said Mr Livingstone was a "rat with nine lives".

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