Ken Macintosh says Ken Livingstone's anti-Semitism comments are “utterly reprehensible and deplorable”
Ken Livingstone suspended from the Labour party
Ken Macintosh has described comments made by former London mayor Ken Livingstone on anti-Semitism as “utterly reprehensible and deplorable”.
Livingstone was suspended from the Labour party after claiming in a BBC interview that Naz Shah, an MP who was suspended for sharing social media posts calling for Israel to be “relocated” to the US, was not anti-Semitic.
Livingstone said: “Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism – this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”
John Mann, chair of the APPG on Anti-Semitism, then interrupted Livingstone during a live phone interview to accuse him of being a “Nazi apologist”.
Livingstone, a member of Labour's national executive committee, said he had never heard anyone in his party say anything anti-Semitic, claiming that “there’s been a very well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticises Israeli policy as anti-Semitic”.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale backed calls for Livingstone to be suspended.
Macintosh, the Labour candidate for Eastwood, said Labour needed to “send out the clearest message possible that there is no place for anti-Semitism in our Party or in our society”.
He said: “Ken Livingstone should remember that the Labour Party has always championed equality for all and we have a proud record of defending the rights of minorities. We have a zero tolerance approach to all forms of bigotry and to hatred within our Party and within society.
He added: “We pride ourselves on being a liberal tolerant society but we also need to recognise that it is still not easy to be a member of a minority community here in Scotland.
“In recent years, Scotland’s Jewish Community has been hugely unsettled by our country’s response to international events, particularly the flying of Palestinian flags from public buildings. Many of us have worked hard to send out a strong, zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitic sentiment and comments like these we have been hearing from Mr Livingstone undermine that effort.
“If we do not acknowledge that a problem exists, it is difficult to tackle it and Mr Livingstone needs to recognise that Anti-Semitism denial is not the response the Labour Party expects of him.”
A Labour spokesperson confirmed Livingstone has been suspended by the Labour party, pending an investigation into his comments.
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