Time for Ken to go?
By Diane Cooke
The new president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews has demanded the expulsion of Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker from the Labour party by the end of July.
In her first broadcast interview since being elected to the role, Marie van der Zyl pledged that under her leadership the Board of Deputies would continue to press Jeremy Corbyn to take more action against antisemitism in the party.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Van der Zyl said she expected Labour to throw out Livingstone, the former London mayor who is suspended from the party after comments he made about Adolf Hitler’s support for Zionism; and Walker, a former vice-chair of Momentum who is suspended over critical comments she made about Holocaust memorial day.
Jeremy Corbyn ally Baroness Chakrabarti is in agreement saying she believes the former Mayor of London should be permanently expelled from the party after repeatedly making controversial claims about Hitler’s relationship with Zionism.
Livingstone was suspended from the party for a year after his comments were investigated, and Labour’s outgoing general secretary Iain McNicol made that punishment indefinite just before he quit his post in March
Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Politics, the Shadow Attorney General said: “I don’t believe that Ken Livingstone can any longer be in the Labour Party.”
She said “I find it very difficult to see how any rational decision maker could allow Mr Livingstone to stay in our Party. He has brought it repeatedly into disrepute. He has brought shame upon it and his own legacy.”
Baroness Chakrabarti also said she was “incredibly disappointed” her report on anti-Semitism in the Labour party had not been fully implemented, despite it being completed two years ago.
Mr Livingstone – who has been suspended for two years – has vowed to fight to stay in the party, insisting he has been punished for telling “the truth”.
He maintained that he had not brought the party into disrepute, saying: "There's an issue here that matters - should someone be disciplined for stating a historical truth, and I think that's really important."
But Baroness Chakrabarti added: “Whatever the wisdom of the original decision to suspend, probably in the light of his years of contribution, he’s repeated the offence.
“And so, now, there is a new even more aggravated case to consider in the light of recent comments and their effect perhaps on some local election results."