Tories seize on Zionism comments, unrepentant Livingstone sets out to foil newts

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone leaves his home in London, Britain April 29, 2016. © Peter Nicholls
Anti-Semitism is an internal “virus” the Labour Party must treat, according to London Mayor Boris Johnson. But a defiant Ken Livingstone says he will present evidence of his claims once he’s dealt with his garden pond.

The outgoing mayor appeared to be attempting to cast accusations of Labour anti-Semitism wider on LBC radio Thursday evening when he said that anti-Jewish prejudice is common in the party.

He opined that “there’s plainly some sort of virus of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party that needs to be addressed” before attempting to connect Labour’s mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan with the row currently engulfing Ken Livingstone.

It seems to me there’s an ideological continuum between the views of Ken Livingstone about Israel and the position of Jeremy Corbyn and indeed the views of their candidate for London mayor, Sadiq Khan,” he said.

Johnson himself has repeatedly been cast as having dubious views on race. Last Friday he was attacked from political left and right for referring to US President Barack Obama’s Kenyan heritage.

The mayoral campaign run by his fellow Tory Zac Goldsmith has been accused of being colored by “dog whistle” Islamophobia in recent weeks. 

For his part, Livingstone remains unrepentant and, in his only direct comment on the issue to the Evening Standard on Friday morning, stated “everything I said yesterday was true and I will be presenting the academic book about that to the Labour Party inquiry.

The Standard speculated that the book in question was 2002’s ‘51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis’ by American-Jewish writer Lenni Brenner, which details the Haavara relocation accord struck between the Nazi regime and German Zionist leaders in 1933.

Questioned outside his house by Sky News on Friday, the outspoken former mayor refused to comment on the allegations telling reporters only that he had done some washing and that he was “doing some work on the pond, moving some of the newts.

Earlier Friday mayoral candidate George Galloway critiqued the timing and tone of Livingstone original comments but argued that the spirit of the former mayor’s analysis was historically accurate.

Ken Livingstone said absolutely nothing wrong, everything he said was the truth: historical fact, proven. I’ve got the books, so should you,” he argued.