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Livingstone: Miliband Bottles It

Paul Waugh reports:

Ed Miliband is facing increasing backbench unrest over his failure to speak out about Labour’s mayoral defeat in Tower Hamlets, and Ken Livingstone’s role in the debacle.

MPs are furious Mr Livingstone has been allowed to sidestep party rules with his support for victorious independent candidate Lutfur Rahman. The ex-London mayor campaigned alongside Mr Rahman a few days before he beat the official Labour candidate by a landslide in the East End borough.

MPs’ discontent intensified today after it emerged the party’s National Executive Committee disputes panel had decided not to take action against Mr Livingstone. East End MP Jim Fitzpatrick has raised the issue with Mr Miliband, pointing out how damaging the ex-mayor’s conduct had been.

But the Labour leader has refused to comment publicly, preferring to delegate to the NEC. Mr Rahman was ex-pelled from Labour four weeks before the poll, amid allegations of ballot-rigging and support for Islamic extremists, which he denies. Eight councillors who backed him have received a warning notice that they will be thrown out.

One Labour MP said: “It’s clear Livingstone has broken the rules. Ordinary members are being booted out. It looks like one rule for Ken and one for everyone else.” A shadow minister said: “You’d have thought Ed would at least send a warning to Livingstone.”

The Standard understands the NEC drew a distinction between the cases. The councillors allegedly refused to sign a statement urging voters to give Labour their first preference. Mr Livingstone said he only urged people to give Mr Rahman their second preference, while giving Labour their first

Utter, utter bollocks.

This is a huge slap in the face for loyal Labour Party members. In particular, to Labour Party members in Tower Hamlets, who voted to call on the NEC to ask Labour’s National Executive Committee to investigate the role of Labour Party members in Lutfur’s election campaign and to treat them all equally”.

Well, Ken Livingstone has not been treated equally.

Now we’re saddled with Ken Livingstone as our candidate, notwithstanding the clear fact that he is an electoral liability, and irrespective of his repeated treachery to the Labour Party, and his continuing support for every bigot, supporter of terrorism, and homophobe that he can find.

Ken Livingstone’s support for Lutfur Rahman – supposedly to “keep the Tories out”, which was never on the cards in any case – is yet another example of this betrayal of Labour. Ken Livingstone actually went out canvassing, and lent his support to a man who was reportedly nominated by Abul “Abs” Hussain, who in turn was expelled from Respect for racism.

Just how much more of this crap are we expected to take?