Perhaps the only thing more predictable about a socialist government than brutal crackdowns on civil liberties and economic collapse is the UK’s hard left coming out in solidarity with it. Sure enough, the usual suspects are out in force in the Guardian, with numerous senior Labour MPs including John McDonnell, Diane Abbott, Richard Burgon, Chris Williamson and Clive Lewis co-signing a letter along with Owen Jones condemning the “US attempt at regime change” in Venezuela and instead calling for “dialogue”. Classic…
Never mind the fact that it’s millions of ordinary Venezuelans who are taking to the streets to demand regime change after seeing their lives ruined by the crippling socialist policies of successive dictators Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro – obviously they’re just part of a grand “far right” US conspiracy which must be resisted to keep Maduro in place.
At least they’ve got some renowned moral authorities on their side, the letter was also signed by antisemitism scandal-ridden Pete Willsman and the disgraced Ken Livingstone. When you’re on Ken Livingstone’s side of history you know you’re on the wrong one…
UPDATE: Labour MP Angela Smith has condemned the letter as a “disgrace”, as well as the fact that Baroness Massey’s name was wrongly attached to the letter.
UPDATE II: Labour peer Baroness Massey insists her name was wrongly included in the list. “I disassociate myself from this letter,” she told PoliticsHome, “I know nothing about it. My name is Doreen E Massey and I’ve never heard of this letter – it’s nothing to do with me. They have pursued this in a very unprofessional way. It’s crazy.”
That’s it, the Boris story has surely peaked…
LBC’s Theo Usherwood has the transcript of Ken’s Labour Party disciplinary hearing. It is fair to say they did not exactly give him a tough grilling. Panel member Russell Cartwright instead blamed Guido and the media for the scandal in a series of pathetic softball questions. Seriously, the state of this…
“Naz Shah possibly didn’t see that [calling for Jews to leave the Middle East] was attempted humour, but it was picked up nearly two years later by Guido Fawkes. So what political current does Guido Fawkes normally represent, or is seen to represent?…
It was Iain Dale who was the interviewer on LBC, was it? And which political party has Iain Dale stood for as a candidate?
… A Telegraph editorial, the Telegraph is obviously a paper of the right and normally referred to as the Torygraph?
The Daily Politics show, which is hosted by Andrew Neil. And I would have thought there would have been – is there a consensus, do you think, in the Labour Party that everybody in the Labour Party thinks Andrew Neil is of the right?
Your interview on 30 April is with David Mellor, and obviously it’s common knowledge that he was a Conservative MP who was disgraced…
All select committees would have a government majority on them, regardless of who chairs it, so Tim Loughton was in the chair, the draft would have been under his name, and so – well, should we be surprised it made the conclusions it does about anti-Semitism in respect of the evidence it took from you? It’s another Conservative Party-dominated publication.”
Tell us again, Labour, how you’re taking anti-Semitism seriously…
Classic Jon Craig moment on Sky News yesterday, as he fell for a Daily Mash spoof story that Ken has a newt called Adolf. Ever the pro, Craig has corrected his error:
Very disappointed to learn reports that Ken Livingstone has or had a pet newt called Adolf, which I referred to y’day on TV & online, may not be correct. Am now told original source of this claim was satirical website “The Daily Mash”. Shame!
— Jon Craig (@joncraig) May 22, 2018
He must have been as pi**ed off as a newt…
One last hurrah for Ken (well, almost certainly not) – he has been on LBC this morning explaining how Hitler supported Zionists. More interesting is Theo Usherwood’s scoop that, in his evidence to his disciplinary hearing, Ken revealed that he was so close to Corbyn’s office that Seumas Milne even wrote his tweets. He coordinated with Milne on his media appearances and, when the anti-Semitism row blew up, Seumas never told him to stop saying Hitler on the TV. Asked by Nick Ferrari if Corbyn agrees with him on Hitler and Zionism, Ken said you’d have to ask Jezza but they have never disagreed on anything in their whole careers. A question in Corbyn’s next broadcast interview on this could be interesting…
“After much consideration, I have decided to resign from the Labour Party.
The ongoing issues around my suspension from the Labour Party have become a distraction from the key political issue of our time – which is to replace a Tory government overseeing falling living standards and spiralling poverty, while starving our schools and the NHS of the vital resources they need.
We live in dangerous times and there are many issues I wish to speak up on and contribute my experience from running London to, from the need for real action to tackle climate change, to opposing Trump’s war-mongering, to the need to end austerity and invest in our future here in Britain.
“I do not accept the allegation that I have brought the Labour Party into disrepute – nor that I am in any way guilty of anti-Semitism. I abhor antisemitism, I have fought it all my life and will continue to do so.
“I also recognise that the way I made a historical argument has caused offence and upset in the Jewish community. I am truly sorry for that.
“Under Labour’s new General Secretary I am sure there will be rapid action to expel anyone who genuinely has antisemitic views.
“I am loyal to the Labour party and to Jeremy Corbyn. However any further disciplinary action against me may drag on for months or even years, distracting attention from Jeremy’s policies.
“I am therefore, with great sadness, leaving the Labour Party.
“We desperately need an end to Tory rule, and a Corbyn-led government to transform Britain and end austerity. I will continue to work to this end, and I thank all those who share this aim and who have supported me in my own political career.”
“Ken Livingstone’s resignation is sad after such a long and vital contribution to London and progressive politics, but was the right thing to do.”
Sad? Did he want him to stay?
UPDATE: Tory vice chairman James Cleverly:
“I’m relieved that Ken Livingstone has resigned from the Labour Party but why had it taken so long and why didn’t Corbyn deal with this months ago?
“Livingstone’s repeatedly offensive comments should have been dealt with ages ago.
If Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party were serious about tackling anti-Semitic racism within the party they would have kicked out Livingstone two years ago.
All Jeremy Corbyn could muster was that it was sad that Ken had chosen to go.
“When will Corbyn take proper action and ensure labour members and activists who express racist views are given the boot. Enough is enough.”