Not about offence
It has taken a year for the Labour Party to decide that Ken Livingstone was guilty as charged and then do nothing about it. Now, after an uproar from within the party, Jeremy Corbyn has attempted to exculpate himself from a mess of his own making by announcing that the party’s National Executive Committee will look at the former Mayor of London’s behaviour since he was first suspended. Doubtless the Labour leader and his team think they are being clever. But his statement is revealing. He describes the issue as being that Mr Livingstone “caused deep offence and hurt to the Jewish community.” But offence and hurt feelings are irrelevant. Mr Livingstone was not charged with upsetting people. He was charged with bringing Labour into disrepute through a seemingly never-ending series of antisemitic statements.
Mr Corbyn has repeatedly said that he opposes antisemitism “and all forms of racism”, to use his usual form of words. He has spoken of having zero tolerance of antisemitism. And yet Labour’s actions under his leadership tell a very different story. Even now, after Tuesday’s decision to allow Mr Livingstone to stay in the party caused apoplexy among decent members, you will search in vain for any condemnation by the Labour leader of the decision. As for Mr Livingstone: this week he alleged that this was all a Jewish conspiracy. Specifically, he said that the
JC was guilty of “printing a lie” about him which caused all his problems. The accusation (which is, of course, nonsense) is telling. Despite wall-towall coverage of his bizarre distortions of history for days, on TV, radio and in the papers, the one media organisation he has chosen to attack is a Jewish newspaper. We can each draw our own conclusions from that.