UK Politics

Ken Livingstone awaits Labour verdict over Hitler comments

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Media captionKen Livingstone tells Today Jewish Chronicle and Labour MPs to blame for offence caused after his Hitler comments

Ken Livingstone will learn later whether he faces Labour disciplinary action over his comments about Adolf Hitler.

The former London mayor was hauled before a disciplinary panel after claiming the Nazi leader supported Zionism in the 1930s.

He could be expelled if Labour bosses decide his comments were "grossly detrimental" to the party.

On Tuesday morning he blamed the Jewish Chronicle and Labour MPs for misreporting his comments.

And he said that if he was expelled from Labour he would take legal action to fight the decision.

Mr Livingstone has been suspended from the Labour Party since the row erupted in April 2016, when he was defending MP Naz Shah over claims she had made anti-Semitic social media posts.

The comment that sparked the row, was made to BBC London. The former mayor said: "When Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews."

Anti-Semitism and Zionism

  • Anti-Semitism is "hostility and prejudice directed against Jewish people" (OED)
  • Zionism refers to the movement to create a Jewish state in the Middle East, corresponding to the historic land of Israel - anti-Zionism opposes that
  • Some say "Zionist" can be used as a coded attack on Jews, while others say the Israeli government and its supporters are deliberately confusing anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism to avoid criticism

What's the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism?

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday morning, he said it was a "lie" to say he had said Hitler was a Zionist, saying this had been the cause of offence.

He has repeatedly defended his version of events, saying there had been "real collaboration" between Nazis and Zionists before World War Two.

But Jeremy Newmark, of the Jewish Labour Movement, said Mr Livingstone's "seemingly consistent need to calibrate his language to cause maximum hurt and pain to Jewish people and Holocaust survivors in this country has created a situation where there can no longer be a place for him inside our party".

Mr Newmark said his organisation would raise the matter at Labour's annual conference in September if Mr Livingstone was allowed to stay in the party.