Ken Livingstone: ‘Not one Jewish friend can recall antisemitism in Labour’

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Ken Livingstone: ‘Not one Jewish friend can recall antisemitism in Labour’

Former London mayor tells Good Morning Britain that 'lies and smears' against Jeremy Corbyn contributed to his election defeat

Ken Livingstone has denied antisemitism is a problem within Labour and claimed “lies and smears” against Jeremy Corbyn contributed to the party’s election defeat.

The former Labour MP and Mayor of London said “not one” of his Jewish friends within the party could remember a time when there was an antisemitic incident.

Mr Livingstone also rebutted claims that he said Hitler was a Zionist which led to him being suspended from Labour, and ultimately resulted in his decision to quit the party last year.

Defending Mr Corbyn against antisemitism allegations, Mr Livingstone told Good Morning Britain: “I’ve known Jeremy for 45 years.

“He’s been side by side with everyone who’s campaigned against racism, homophobia, antisemitism, and yet the media was filled with all these lies about the Labour Party’s an institutionally antisemitic body.

“Well I tell you, all my Jewish friends who are in the Labour Party, not a single one of them can remember in their entire time in the party an antisemitic incident.”

A spokesperson for Good Morning Britain said: “Ken Livingstone appeared on GMB this morning in relation to Labour’s defeat in last week’s General Election and the current debate around the future of the party. His views were robustly challenged by Piers Morgan.”

Under Mr Corbyn’s leadership the party has been beset by allegations of antisemitism, which led to several Labour MPs quitting in protest and the Chief Rabbi urging people to “vote with their conscience”.

The former London mayor was originally suspended in 2016 after claiming in a radio interview that Hitler had supported Zionism in the 1930s.

Addressing the issue, Mr Livingstone said: “I quit the Labour Party because this was being dragged out to undermine Jeremy.

“And the reason was nothing to do with what I said about Naz Shah, it was back on that day in April 2016 when the Labour MP John Mann, then a Labour MP, with a camera crew in tow, turned up and started shouting in my face that I was a Nazi apologist and he then went on air and claimed that I’d said Hitler was a Zionist.

“But If I’d said Hitler was a Zionist I wouldn’t just have apologised, I’d have been off to my doctor to check I wasn’t in the first stage of dementia.”

On Friday, Mr Livingstone identified “the Jewish vote” as a contributory factor in Labour’s poor showing at the ballot box and admitted Mr Corbyn would have to resign imminently over his failure to deal with antisemitism.

He told the PA news agency: “The Jewish vote wasn’t very helpful.

“Jeremy should have tackled that issue far earlier than he did.

“It looks like the end for Jeremy, which is disappointing for me since I’m a close ally. I’m sure he’ll have to resign tomorrow.”

Thursday’s election saw Labour suffer its heaviest defeat since 1935 after Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party won an 80-seat majority.

Labour’s general secretary, Jennie Formby, reportedly wrote to the party’s ruling National Executive Committee recommending the leadership contest to replace Mr Corbyn starts on January 7, with the view of having a new leader by the end of March.

Mr Corbyn said he will stand down in the early part of next year after overseeing a “process of reflection” within the party.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: