So, here it comes. The mealy-mouthed apology from Ken Livingstone:
The last week saw my relationship with the Jewish community in the headlines. I agree with those including in my own party who want to break out of the “drama” of “Ken and the Jewish community” – it’s time to move on from that, onto something less headline-grabbing but more dynamic.
I understand the dismay caused when these kinds of controversies hit the headlines. Politicians ought to have humility when things like that happen. I am no exception.
Let me start with the report that I said at a meeting of mainly pro-Labour Jewish Londoners that Jews will not vote for me because they are rich. I didn’t actually say this. However, I can see that the way the conversation unfolded meant this interpretation was placed on it.
When such controversies unfold it is easy to get dug in and appear to defend positions. I don’t wish to do this. Jewish voters are not one homogeneous block. A 2010 report for the Institute for Jewish Policy Research shows the range of Jewish voting preference. In North London Labour was the preferred party, for example.
If I believed that Jewish people won’t vote Labour in this election, and I did not value the opinions and concerns of Jewish Londoners, I would not have spent my evening at that meeting.
Jewish people have shaped London. I could not cherish London and not value Jewish London. The contribution of Jews to London is immense – politically, economically, culturally, intellectually, philanthropically, artistically. I may shoot my mouth off and I may not always appear to be listening, but I am. I am a socialist, a believer in rational thought and the rule of law. The Jewish people have laid the foundations of all of those things. Working with the Jewish community is essential to me and what I stand for. Moreover, contrary to any impression, I do explicitly see Jewish people as a people – not either a religion or an ethnicity but a people. The Tories take Jewish London for granted. I will not.
Oh blah blah blah. What a creep.
Here’s some more:
On London’s communities, if I am elected my policy will not be to promote one faith or community over another, as has been suggested in this election, but to promote interfaith and inter-community dialogue. I want my mayoralty to be at the forefront of encouraging dialogue. Many Jewish-led organisations have a taken a lead in this and I want to support that work.
What this means, of course, is that Ken Livingstone will get behind the repeated attempts by the Islamic Forum Europe-led, Jamaat-e-Islami aligned East London Mosque. Moon faced and credulous Rabbis will be brought in to “kosherise” institutions which repeatedly host men who call for the killing of Jews, gays and religious dissenters within repressive theocratic states. Then, when these institutions are attacked, this bogus “interfaith” work will be wheeled out to defend them.
Notably, as the JC observes, there is no mention at all of, or apology for, Ken Livingstone’s backing of Qaradawi. This is a hate preacher who admires Hitler and who hopes one day to be able to complete his work. That is the clearest indication you could want, that if elected, Ken Livingstone will continue to ally with and promote the Islamist far Right.
To be honest, I think this “apology” has actually made me angrier. As Ken Livingstone was putting his name to the draft of this letter, he was also appearing on Gaydar Radio, where he peddled the most surreal conspiracy theories I have ever seen about Qaradawi:
Livingstone also claims that violently homophobic rhetoric reportedly made by Qawardi on his personal website could have come from a “Zionist organisation” called Memory, which is “run by a former Mossad agent that demonizes all Muslims.”
He also believes another website is in existence which is posing as Qaradawi and has “Saudi funding to demonize him.”
So, why has Ken Livingstone “apologised”. After all, he’s not a man who usually admits that he’s done anything wrong. Not unless his arm has been twisted, well up, behind his back.
Think back two years. Ken Livingstone libelled a political opponent, crudely and dishonestly, as an Islamophobe:
In an inflammatory speech at a public meeting for the campaign, Livingstone accused Keith, an opponent of the mayor idea, of spreading Islamophobia and smears and said he did not live in the borough. These allegations are false. After Keith engaged solicitors and threatened legal proceedings, Livingstone has apologised and agreed to pay a sum of money to a charity of Keith’s choice, plus his legal costs. Sources close to the case say Ken will be out of pocket by around £11,000.
Michael Keith told me: “I am very glad that Ken Livingstone has accepted that he cannot libel people and has withdrawn his false allegations. I accept his apology.”
It isn’t fear of losing that has caused Ken Livingstone to apologise. Nor is it genuine contrition. It is certainly not a change in his views.
Rather, what we’re seeing, is the result of the Labour Party flexing its muscles. Ken Livingstone is only a candidate. He has no institutional powerbase. Therefore, he has knuckled under.
When Ken Livingstone has a staff behind him, and public money to fund his defence, he behaves quite differently towards his critics. They have the full guns of the Livingstone machine turned on them.
Think of Peter Tatchell, and his criticism of Qaradawi. Immediately met by a stomach turning defence of the racist hate preacher, penned – so it is rumoured – by veteran Trotskyite, Bob Pitt of Islamophobia watch.
Or, even more disgracefully, when Ken Livingstone pushed Robert Hedges, a friend of his wife’s down the stairs:
After the front door was shut with Emma inside, I was left outside with Ken and one or two others. Ken wanted to get back into the party. He was uncontrollable and went up to the door and was hammering on it. He was going ballistic, and we were trying to calm him down and restrain him. We were grabbing on to his arms and trying to hold him. The last memory I have is of Ken’s arm lunging towards me.
After that my next recollection was when I came to in the ambulance briefly. Then I regained consciousness after I had had an X-ray at the Whittington Hospital.
Fearful that the story would break, a member of the Greater London Authority staff was drafted in, alongside Ken Livingstone’s partner, to get him to change his story. Here’s the aftermath:
I put the phone down and felt dreadful. I had been pressured into lying. That night I couldn’t sleep – I was hysterical and crying uncontrollably. I thought to myself that I have gone against all of my principles
And that’s what you can expect Ken Livingstone to do, if he is re-elected, if he has his own staff, if he is not subject to any restraint.
In my view, Ken Livingstone is a sociopath. He has no conscience and no qualms. His allies are some of the most extreme and nasty people in Britain. He uses sectarianism as an electoral technique. He has shown no loyalty to Labour, and supports its opponents.
Look at the damage Ken Livingstone has done to Labour, and imagine how the Labour Party will be undermined by four years of the man in power.