Graham Bash

Ken Livingstone

Graham Bash

Ken Livingstone


I am devastated that Ken Livingstone has resigned from the Labour Party.

It is a victory for our enemies inside and outside the party. These enemies are a combination of the right of the PLP who never give up in their attempts to remove Jeremy as leader and the pro-Israel lobby intent on silencing support for the Palestinian struggle.

The right and the media have always hated Ken - the Sun described him as "the most odious man in Britain" long before he was accused of antisemitism. Blair had Ken expelled rather than see him be the Party's candidate for Mayor of London.

I would support Ken's decision if there was any chance this would protect Jeremy and the party - but it won't.

After Ken, they will come for Jackie Walker, then Chris Williamson . . . they will not stop unless and until they get Jeremy.

We cannot appease the bullies. However difficult, we must take them on.

I have known Ken for 45 years. He was the best anti-racist our party has ever produced. His GLC was groundbreaking and his struggle for the rights of all minorities - Jewish, black, Irish, lesbians, gays - was years ahead of his time.

As leader of GLC, and Member of Parliament he courageously challenged and exposed Britain’s war in Ireland. The historic collusion between British Intelligence, the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries as well as RUC’s shoot to kill policy and the repression of Irish nationalist community in Britain were all dealt with as part of Livingstone’s maiden speech to Parliament in 1987. Livingstone’s determination to speak truth to power and his consistent support for an independent United Ireland made him a thorn in the side to British imperialism.  

Yes, like any front-line politician, who has to operate and compromise within the limits of his conditions, he was flawed.

He was on the wrong side of the ratecapping fight, leaving Liverpool and Lambeth councils isolated, together with the left of the GLC under John McDonnell. Yes, when London mayor, he supported crossing RMT picket lines. And, yes, his formulations on Hitler's relationship with German Zionists was shorthand, abbreviated and clumsy. They were, however, essentially correct. See for example, the seminal work by Francis Nicosia and another by the Zionist Edwin Black.

The allegations of antisemitism against Ken, a lifelong fighter against racism, are obscene.

Ken has been worn down. We must continue the fight to recognise his legacy and for a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn that will be a fitting testimony to the vision and record of Ken Livingstone - and win justice for the Palestinians.


South Thanet CLP and member of the Editorial Board of Labour Briefing