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  1. ITV Report

Labour's anti-Semitism row explained

An anti-Semitism row has been building within the Labour party over recent days, today culminating in an astonishing confrontation between an MP and former London Mayor and Labour NEC member Ken Livingstone.

Labour has now suspended Livingstone for "bringing the party into disrepute", and he is the second high profile Labour member to be suspended over alleged anti-Semitic comments in the past two days.

Ken Livingstone has been suspended from Labour Credit: ITV
  • How has Labour's anti-Semitism row come about?

Yesterday, Bradford MP Naz Shah, who took George Galloway's seat in the 2015 general election, was suspended over allegedly anti-Semitic social media posts.

During the height of the war between Israeli troops and Palestinians in 2014, Naz Shah, who was not an MP at the time, shared an image on her Facebook page of Israel relocated in the United States.

She was also accused of writing "the Jews are rallying" on her Facebook page.

These posts were uncovered on right-wing political website Guido Fawkes.

Facebook post by MP Naz Shah
Facebook post by MP Naz Shah

She was initially "reprimanded" by Jeremy Corbyn, before the prime minister at PMQ's criticised the Labour party for not removing the whip.

Shah read out an apology later that day, saying she no longer holds those views.

Following this she was suspended by the party pending an investigation.

  • What did Ken Livingstone say?

Ken Livingstone gave media interviews yesterday and today defending Naz Shah. He said that while her posts were "over the top" they were not anti-Semitic. Instead he argues they were a criticism of Israel.

In a radio interview with the BBC this morning, Livingstone made the following statements:

Let's remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel.

He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.

– Ken Livingstone

There's been a very well orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticises Israeli policy as anti-Semitic.

– Ken Livingstone

This led to dozens of Labour MPs calling for his suspension or expulsion from the Labour party.

Labour MP John Mann angrily confronted Livingstone in Westminster, calling him a "disgusting racist" and a "Nazi apologist".

After defending his comments as "historical fact" in a number of subsequent media interviews, it was announced that Livingstone had been suspended by the Labour party pending an investigation.

  • What has Jeremy Corbyn said about this?

There has been criticism from some Labour MPs that Jeremy Corbyn, since becoming party leader, has not been quick enough or tough enough in dealing with alleged incidents of anti-Semitism within the party.

Jeremy Corbyn Credit: PA

After Naz Shah's posts were revealed, the Labour leader released a statement saying:

What Naz Shah did was offensive and unacceptable. I have spoken to her and made this clear. These are historic social media posts made before she was a Member of Parliament.

Naz has issued a fulsome apology. She does not hold these views and accepts she was completely wrong to have made these posts.

The Labour Party is implacably opposed to anti-Semitism and all forms of racism.

– Jeremy Corbyn, yesterday, before Shah was suspended

Shadow Cabinet member Lisa Nandy then publicly called for Naz Shah's suspension. The Labour leader was then criticised for his handling of the situation at PMQs.

Shah was then suspended by the Labour party.

Jeremy Corbyn has not at the time of writing commented on the Ken Livingstone situation.

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