The row in the Labour Party is more about removing chief Jeremy Corbyn than about facts, senior leader Ken Livingstone said on Saturday, refusing to apologise for his remarks on Hitler and Zionism that led to his suspension this week.
There was a temporary truce in the party as leaders are wary of the anti-Semitism row damaging Labour’s prospects in the May 5 local elections, but there are already reports that some party MPs and leaders are discussing a “coup” against Corbyn after the June 23 referendum on Britain remaining in the EU.
Blaming Blairite MPs for the row, Livingstone said: “I never regret saying something that is true. How can I have hurt and offended the Jewish community when the Prime Minister of Israel said exactly the same thing?
“If you look at what this is all about, it’s not about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party...What this is all about is actually the struggle of the embittered old Blairite MPs to try to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn.”
Livingstone was hauled up for his remarks earlier in the week while defending party MP Naz Shah, who apologised for anti-Semitic remarks made before she became a lawmaker. He regretted his comments may have disrupted the party’s election campaign but did not apologise and claimed he had merely repeated a “statement of fact”.
Livingstone had told BBC earlier this week: “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.”
A Labour inquiry into the row is to be led by Shami Chakrabarti, a prominent human rights lawyer and former head of campaign group Liberty.