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Thursday, 28 April 2016
Ken Livingstone suspended by Labour Party in 'anti-Semitism' row
Mr Livingstone was accused by Labour MP John Mann of being a "Nazi apologist" in front of a media scrum as he arrived at Westminster's media studios.
Asked about the confrontation on the BBC's Daily Politics, Mr Livingstone said: "He went completely over the top... I have had that with John Mann before."
But Mr Mann stood by his remarks, saying: "He is a Nazi apologist."
Referring to comments Mr Livingstone had made about Adolf Hitler's alleged plan to deport Jewish people to what was then Palestine in 1932, he accused the ex-London mayor of anti-Semitism and called for him to be suspended from the party.
Mr Livingstone said he was not suggesting Hitler was a Zionist, saying the Nazi leader was "a monster from start to finish", but he said he had simply been quoting historical "facts".
The row stems from an interview Mr Livingstone gave to BBC Radio London, in which he said he had never heard anyone in the Labour Party say anything anti-Semitic.
Then he added: "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."
Naz Shah was suspended by the Labour Party, pending an investigation, over comments she made on Facebook before she became an MP, including a suggestion that Israel should be moved to the United States.
She has apologised for the comments - but it has sparked fresh claims from senior Labour figures that the party is not doing enough to tackle growing anti-Semitism in its ranks.
Shadow Commons leader Chris Bryant told MPs: "I'm sick and tired of people trying to explain it away and, yes, I'm talking to you Ken Livingstone."
Asked if Mr Livingstone should be suspended from the party, shadow mental health minister Luciana Berger replied "yes".
Labour's mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan said: "Ken Livingstone's comments are appalling and inexcusable. There must be no place for this in our party."
Explaining his stance, in a BBC News Channel interview, Mr Livingstone said: "Naz is not anti-Semitic - she was completely over the top, what she said was rude, but I literally, during the 47 years I've been in the Labour Party, I've never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic.
"I've heard a lot of people being critical of Israel, but if I was to denounce the South African government, you wouldn't say I was racist.
"And one of my worries is this confusion with anti-Semitism and criticising the Israeli government policy undermines the importance is tackling real anti-Semitism.