Ken de­fends record against ‘tis­sue of lies’

The Jewish Chronicle - - Community - BY MAR­CUS DYSCH

KEN LIV­ING­STONE has said the cap­i­tal’s Jewish com­mu­nity “should be cel­e­brated” and promised to work to de­fend Jewish rights if elected as London’s Mayor next week.

Ad­dress­ing a London Jewish Forum lunch in Hamp­stead on Tues­day, Mr Liv­ing­stone took is­sue with his crit­ics. He claimed the let­ter sent last month by prom­i­nent Jewish Labour sup­port­ers to Ed Miliband ex­press­ing con­cerns about him had been a “tis­sue of lies”. He also said his com­ments about “rich Jews” not vot­ing for him had been mis­un­der­stood.

“I had come out of the meet­ing [with the Labour sup­port­ers] think­ing: ‘Well it was heavy go­ing but we cleared the air’. Then I read the let­ter from Neil [Nerva of the Jewish Labour Move­ment] and thought: ‘What a tis­sue of lies’. I was so an­gry. I re­mem­ber think­ing that Jonathan Freed­land was there and that he would blow all this away.”

He did not respond to an au­di­ence ques­tion about Labour peer Lord Sugar’s ad­vice that “no­body” should vote for the Labour can­di­date.

Prais­ing the Jewish com­mu­nity’s “im­mense con­tri­bu­tions, eco­nom­i­cally, cul­tur­ally, in­tel­lec­tu­ally, phi­lan­throp­i­cally and ar­tis­ti­cally”, Mr Liv­ing­stone said he would fo­cus as mayor “very much on the here and now and not on the past”.

He pledged to “de­fend the cul­tural and re­li­gious rights of Jewish peo­ple”, pro­tect­ing she­chi­tah, for ex­am­ple. In City Hall, his door would “al­ways be open” to London Jews.

Asked about his in­fa­mous 2005 clash with Evening Stan­dard re­porter Oliver Fine­gold — whom he likened to a con­cen­tra­tion camp guard — Mr Liv­ing­stone dis­missed it as “a huge fuss over noth­ing.

“I wasn’t rude to Oliver Fine­gold be­cause he was Jewish. I was rude to him be­cause he was a re­porter. I could pro­duce large num­bers of re­porters I’ve been much ruder to than [I was to] Oliver Fine­gold.”

At an LJF break­fast last Fri­day, Lib­eral Demo­crat may­oral can­di­date Brian Pad­dick said he wanted to help the strictly Ortho­dox solve hous­ing prob­lems.

An­swer­ing ques­tions from a small au­di­ence at the London Jewish Cul­tural Cen­tre in Gold­ers Green, Mr Pad­dick said that prob­lems over an­tisemitism in the cap­i­tal must be ac­knowl­edged and promised to do “ev­ery­thing I can to pro­mote co­he­sion among Lon­don­ers”.

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