Former London mayor Ken Livingstone was suspended from the UK Labour party today which comes shortly after MPNaz Shah, as a row over anti-Semitism escalated into an assault by moderates on the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
Mr Livingstone, a long-term ally of Mr Corbyn, enraged some Labour members of parliament when he defended Labour MP Naz Shah, who was suspended on Wednesday for saying that Israelis should be “transported” to the US.
Labour which has deep rooted anti-Semitic issues within its party members, also has many supporters who have the same viewpoint.
Mr Livingstone, co-convener of Labour’s international policy commission, said Ms Shah was the victim of “a well-orchestrated campaign” by the “Israel lobby”. Her comments were “over the top” but not anti-Semitic, he said.
He told BBC Radio London: “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.”
Labour officials said Mr Livingstone had been suspended for “bringing the party into disrepute”.
John Mann, a Labour MP, confronted Mr Livingstone outside a Westminster television studio in extraordinary scenes, calling him a “Nazi apologist” and shouting “go back and check what Hitler did”.
The confrontation between the two men was captured on video by BBC political correspondent Vicki Young and posted on Twitter.
Mr Mann has been called in by Labour’s chief whip Rosie Winterton to explain his conduct.
Prime minister David Cameron told a press conference: “It is pretty clear that the Labour party has got a problem with anti-semitism. I think they have got to realise that anti-semitism is like racism, it is unacceptable in a major political party.”
Mr Livingstone’s comments were also denounced by Labour MPs including Sadiq Khan, the party’s candidate for London mayor, who called for Mr Livingstone to be thrown out of the party.
The row over alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour party has been taken up with Mr Corbyn, who many believe also harbours much hatred for Jewish people.