The ongoing Ken Livingstone (“Get Corbyn!”) saga grows yet more preposterous. After outrage that the former London mayor had said Hitler was a Zionist (when he clearly hadn’t, as I pointed out at the time here and here), Labour suspended Livingstone amid accusations that he had made anti-semitic, offensive and false historical claims.
Now as Livingstone fights to avoid expulsion before a closed hearing of the party’s national constitutional committee, it emerges that Labour’s general secretary, Iain McNicol, has written to Livingstone saying that the hearing is not interested in the historical accuracy of his statements or whether what he said was anti-semitic. Rather, it is about whether his conduct has been “grossly detrimental” to the party.
In other words, this is a kangaroo court. Because, of course Livingstone’s comments have been detrimental to the party. Not least, they have angered the UK’s powerful Israel lobby. That is the same lobby – directed by the Israeli embassy and working through groups like the Jewish Labour Movement – that was recently exposed by an undercover Al Jazeera investigation as plotting to bring down a British government minister. Crossing people like that is undoubtedly detrimental to the party, because they are prepared to destroy Labour before they allow it, or its leader, to campaign on behalf of Palestinian rights.
That is why, as long as Livingstone or Corbyn are around, the JLM and its allies in the liberal media, like the Guardian’s Owen Jones and Jonathan Freedland, will keep helping to confect an “anti-semitism crisis” in Labour, acerbating the very problems they blame Corbyn for creating.
In this context, one can understand why McNicol is denying Livingstone the chance to air the historical facts in an open hearing. Because the better the case Livingstone makes for collaboration between the Nazis and Zionists, the more detriment the JLM and others will do to the Labour party. Certainly, JLM leader Jeremy Newmark, who testified against Livingstone on Thursday, will benefit from the lack of public scrutiny of his statements.
McNicol’s logic here is entirely circular, of course. As long as Labour indulges the JLM leadership, and continues to draw a veil over Israeli oppression of Palestinians, the party will have a quiet life. If Labour tries to do the right thing – promoting justice for the Palestinians, upholding international law and soothing a long-festering wound of British malfeasance in the Middle East – it will face a perfect storm from the JLM.
Remember as you watch this farce play out that Owen Jones is due to give a memorial lecture this Sunday (April 2) to the JLM, whose leaders barely bother to conceal the fact that they are more loyal to the Israeli government than the democratically elected leader of their own party. If Jones cares about Labour as much as he claims, he shouldn’t touch the JLM with a barge-pole. Instead it has him in a bear hug.