Ken Livingstone suspended from UK Labour party over Hitler comments
Published 29/04/2016 | 02:30
British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has denied his party is in crisis, after Ken Livingstone was suspended for "bringing the party into disrepute" over comments about Hitler.
The party is launching an investigation into the former London mayor's conduct after outraged senior Labour figures lined up to call for him to be kicked out.
Backbencher John Mann was also hauled in for a dressing down by party chief whip Rosie Winterton after he launched a furious face-to-face attack on Mr Livingstone, accusing him of being a "Nazi apologist".
Mr Corbyn said that Mr Livingstone's remarks would be investigated and dealt with by Labour's General Secretary and National Executive Committee.
And the Labour leader told the BBC: "It's not a crisis. There's no crisis. Where there is any racism in the party, it will be dealt with and rooted out. I have been an anti-racist campaigner all my life."
Asked, during an election visit to Hull, whether the party had a "problem with anti-Semitism", Mr Corbyn replied: "No, there is not a problem. We are totally opposed to anti-Semitism in any form within the party.
"The very small number of cases that have been brought to our attention have been dealt with swiftly and immediately, and they will be."
Mr Livingstone's suspension came after he took to the airwaves for a series of interviews in an attempt to defend Bradford West MP Naz Shah from allegations of anti-Semitism.
Ms Shah was suspended on Wednesday pending an investigation into controversial social media posts about Israel which she made before becoming an MP. But Mr Livingstone insisted that while her remarks were "over the top", she was not anti-Semitic, and that he had never encountered anti-Semitism in 40 years in the Labour Party.
He sparked fury among colleagues by going on to claim that Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism "before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews".
Within minutes of his BBC London interview, Labour MPs - including several members of the shadow cabinet - were queuing up to demand his suspension or removal from the party.
Labour's London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan described his comments as "appalling and inexcusable" and shadow cabinet member Chris Bryant told the House of Commons he was "sick and tired" of people trying to explain away anti-Semitism, adding: "Yes, I'm talking to you, Ken Livingstone."
Even the chairman of the left-wing Momentum group of Corbyn supporters, Jon Lansman, said it was time Mr Livingstone "left politics altogether", adding: "All political lives end in failure and he should now depart voluntarily."