Ken Livingstone suspended as Labour Party accused of becoming a home for "vicious anti-Semites"

Jake Cordell
Follow Jake
Ken Livingstone attempted to defend Naz Shah's comments on Israel this morning in a radio phone-in
Ken Livingstone attempted to defend Naz Shah's comments on Israel this morning in a radio phone-in (Source: Getty)

Zac Goldsmith has accused the Labour Party of becoming a home for "vicious anti-Semites" as it was reported Ken Livingstone had been suspended from the party after he said Adolf Hitler was a Zionist in a radio phone-in this morning.

"There is no doubting that the party has become a home for anti-Semites, and not just mild anti-Semites – vicious anti-Semites,” Goldsmith told City A.M.

"There is anti-Semitism running right the way through the Labour party and they’ve got to deal with that," he added.

Read more: Goldsmith attacks Khan's allegations of Islamophobia

The scandal embroiling the Labour Party escalated this morning after Ken Livingstone was accused of being a "disgusting Nazi apologist" by a Labour MP.

Livingstone had attempted to defend Naz Shah, John McDonnell’s former parliamentary private secretary who was suspended from the party earlier this week for posting on Facebook that Israel should be relocated to the United States.

Livingstone told LBC:

She’s a deep critic of Israel and its policies. Her remarks were over the top but she’s not anti-Semitic. I’ve been in the Labour party for 47 years; I’ve never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic.

Let’s remember when Hitler won his election … his policy was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism.

"Nazi is not anti-Semitic," he later told the BBC.

According to reports, Livingstone was suspended from the party on Monday afternoon after Sadiq Khan, along with a string of senior Labour MPs called for Livingstone to be kicked out.

"Ken Livingstone’s comments are appalling and inexcusable. There must be no place for this in our party," said Khan, who is competing with Zac Goldsmith in the race to succeed Boris Johnson.

Stella Creasy, Wes Streeting, Jess Phillips, John Woodcock, Liz Kendall and Tristram Hunt also attacked Livingstone’s comments.

Speaking to City A.M. yesterday, as part of a full interview to be published next week, Goldsmith warned that there was a growing sense of disquiet across the capital about the rise of anti-Semitism.

“I've done public meetings all over London and in some cases all people want to talk about is what I'll do to clamp down on anti-Semitism. There is a sense of fear and anxiety. It's completely wrong that the Labour party [tolerates this] and they're not taking this issues as seriously as they should.

“It's unethical, it's cruel and it's worrying.”

Goldsmith himself has been accused of running an Islamophobic campaign against Khan in the race to be London mayor by several Labour figures.