The former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone – long regarded as a foe of Britain’s Jewish community for his incendiary attacks on Zionism – was at the center of a new controversy on Tuesday after he was announced as the star of a political comedy show at a West End theater.
Livingstone, who is currently suspended from the opposition Labour party over allegations of antisemitism, will appear in the annual show hosted by Matt Forde, a comedy writer and radio broadcaster, at the Leicester Square Theater on December 7. Past guests on the show have included former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Britain’s Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAAS) condemned the invitation. “There is nothing remotely funny about Ken Livingstone’s unapologetic claim that ‘Hitler was supporting Zionism,’” the CAAS said in a statement. In April 2016, Livingstone was suspended from the Labour party after he claimed in a radio interview that the Nazi dictator was “supporting Zionism” before “he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”
Livingstone has not retracted or apologized for those remarks, leaving his adversaries furious that Labour’s far-left leader, Jeremy Corbyn, still refuses to expel him from the party. In the meantime, Livingstone has dug in even further, claiming before a Labour party tribunal last March that the Nazi SS – whose paramilitary units alone murdered more than one million Soviet Jews by 1943 – “set up training camps so that German Jews who were going to go (to Palestine) could be trained to cope with a very different sort of country when they got there.”
The Venezuelan regime’s decision to unleash paramilitary groups on opposition protestors has revealed to the world yet again the moral bankruptcy of socialism. It also shows Jeremy Corbyn’s utter hypocrisy; he parrots on about universal human rights but is not prepared to speak out against the thugs who run Venezuela, a nation of almost 32 million people.
We have been here before with socialist ideology but some people never learn. The Russian famine of 1921-22 was a direct result of Lenin’s collectivist policies. It led to around five million deaths. Between 1958 and 1962, Mao Tse-tung’s Great Leap Forward in China – a socialist project to industrialise the country – resulted in 45 million killed.
In the late Seventies under Pol Pot, two million perished in Cambodia during attempts to collectivise the countryside.
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“24 hours to save the NHS,” said Tony Blair in 1997. “72 hours to save the NHS,” said Andy Burnham in 2011. “100 days to save the NHS,” declared Labour in 2015. Now it seems it is finally putting its own oxygen mask on first as two key allies of Jeremy Corbyn give him 12 months to save the Labour Party.
This September Labour achieved the worst poll ratings it had ever experienced in opposition, trailing the Conservatives by 11 points. Today, according to an average of polls, it trails by 13. The party received 7,000 fewer votes in the Sleaford and Hykeham by-election as it did in 2015, while the Tories enjoyed one of their best ever by-election results while in government, and also lost its deposit in Richmond Park. And so, speaking to Andrew Marr on Sunday, Diane Abbott said she was confident his poll ratings would include “in the coming 12 months”. The same day, Ken Livingstone told Andrew Neil that “if in a year’s time it was still as bad as this, we’ll all be worried.”
Mr Corbyn himself seems to have gone to ground, causing our sketch writer Michael Deacon to ask “Whatever happened to Jeremy Corbyn?” He briefly resurfaced on Saturday, announcing he would ratify the Istanbul Convention on violence against women, only for veteran human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell to storm the stage and condemn his failure to criticise Russian war crimes in Syria. Such incidents should not be over-interpreted: Mr Tatchell is unlikely to be a household name among patriotic, culturally conservative Labour voters on whom so much commentary is commonly focused. But it is symptomatic of the way Mr Corbyn’s timidity has alienated not only Ukip-sympathising “left behind” voters but also his traditional allies on the internationalist Left.
The first problem with Mr Livingstone’s poll challenge is that it may simply be arithmatically impossible. An opposition leader’s job is usually to fight against entropy, keeping poll ratings as high as possible for as long as possible – and rarely if ever to actually boost them. “At no time since 1970 has Labour in opposition gone up in the polls from this point,” says Glen O’Hara.
But the second problem is that Labour is caught in a vice between two groups of voters who despise each other but are crucial to its chancers. One is the affluent, liberal Remain voters who propelled the Liberal Democrats to victory in Richmond Park, and who are not best pleased by Mr Corbyn’s clear sympathy for Brexit. The other is the third of Labour voters who chose to Leave. There is no simple fix in taking a Ukippy line on immigration because the first group will be furious and the second group, just as crucially, won’t believe it.
Is there a way out for Her Majesty’s Opposition? If I knew, I’d be charging consultancy fees. But you don’t need a expert strategist to predict that Mr Livingstone’s deadline will pass without serious improvement.
Great Britain is not short of irritating, scoundrelous, extremist figures. One thinks of today’s Labour party leader, the Trotskyite Jeremy Corbyn, a ‘friend’ of Hamas and Hizbullah; the anti-Semitic far-left former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, recently suspended from the same party for anti-Jewish remarks; or George Galloway, who defended and lobbied for Saddam Hussein and called on the Iraqi leader to conquer Israel and retake Jerusalem. We have had more than our share of self-vaunting and holier-than-thou religious figures, too, notably the string of Muslim hate preachers who tour our universities and mosques, radicalising students and a host of other impressionable and easily-angered young people.
But for many of us, there is concern about the high rate of radicalisation engineered by Muslim extremists such as Anjem Choudary, who has tried to promote some of Britain’s most radical Islamist movements for some twenty years. His interview technique is to say things that are offensive, or at times seemingly demented, while remaining calm and apparently rational. He preaches hatred for democracy, loathing for British law, and a candid disrespect for all non-Muslims. In different circumstances, he would make a very able politician. In fact, he is a traitor to his country, a manipulator of the young and vulnerable, and is probably best revealed in his own words:
“We [Muslims] take the Jizya, which is ours anyway. The normal situation is to take money from the kuffar [non-Muslim]. They give us the money. You work, give us the money, Allahu Akhbar. We take the money.”
And: ‘Next time when your child is at school and the teacher asks,
‘What is your ambition?’ They should say, ‘to dominate the whole world by Islam, including Britain, that is my ambition'”.
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It is finished. The last attempt to instil a portion of decency into the party of the British left is over. The party of the UK left — the Labour party — has now returned to precisely the position it was in before its recent racism row. It has investigated itself, found itself innocent and now reappointed the figure who kicked the whole row off.
Gatestone readers have been able to follow this from the start. After Jeremy Corbyn’s shock election as Labour party leader last year, in November we covered the “new racism” that came — and would increasingly come — from a party that had just elected a man who has called Hamas and Hezbollah ‘friends’ and who has spent a lifetime palling up with the worst anti-Semites and anti-Western bigots on the planet. The election of such a man, we predicted, would have consequences.
Then in February of this year, when the Labour Club at Oxford University turned out to be overrun by barely disguised and largely open anti-Semitism, we suggested that the rot of this party had surely started “from the top.” It is hard to expel junior members for crimes no worse than those committed by the leader of their party.
In March we covered the growing tolerance within the party for the spread of anti-Semitic tropes and the dominance of anti-Semitic types. Parliamentary candidate Vicky Kirby had previously been suspended from the Labour party for tweeting about Jews having “big noses” and about Adolf Hitler being the “Zionist god” and similar less-than-attractive outpourings. Under Mr Corbyn’s leadership, Ms Kirby was reinstated and became the vice-chair of her party’s local chapter.
Readers who have followed the UK Labour party’s recent travails will be surprised to hear the results of the party’s latest inquiry into its own behaviour. After a slew of anti-Semitic comments emanated from a Member of Parliament, a number of councillors and a member of the party’s executive committee, party leader Jeremy Corbyn finally ordered an inquiry into anti-Semitism in the party. The findings of this inquiry have now been published and amazingly the Labour party has found itself innocent. But even that has not gone down without incident.
The Labour party’s anti-Semitism problem began to be exposed at the start of this year when stories of routine anti-Semitism emerged from a junior wing of the party — specifically the Oxford University Labour Club. That scandal involved a number of resignations, and revelations of the use of anti-Semitic language as routine and commonplace among Labour students at Britain’s most prestigious university. An inquiry into these events, ordered by the party and conducted by Labour’s own Baroness Royall, promptly found “no evidence” of “institutional anti-Semitism.”
Then came the scandal of Naz Shah MP, who was suspended from the party pending an investigation into messages on social media, as well as the suspension of a number of Labour councillors for posting anti-Semitic content on Facebook and other sites.