Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone has again become embroiled in an anti-Semitic row after claiming that Jews vote Tory because they are rich.
Livingstone has previously come under fire for anti-Semitism following a statement made to a Jewish journalist in 2005. He told Evening Standard journalist Oliver Finegold that he was “like a concentration camp guard” and subsequently refused to apologise.
This time, he told the BBC’s Newsnight programme: “People vote according to their income. Now that can change – it might be a generation before people catch up.
“If we were talking 50 years ago, the Roman Catholic community, the Irish community in Britain, the Jewish community was solidly Labour. Still the Irish Catholic community is pretty still solidly Labour because it is not terribly rich.
“As the Jewish community got richer, it moved over to voting for Mrs Thatcher as they did in Finchley.”
Livingstone is also known for his affiliation with Islamist cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who served as an advisor to the then-Mayor during his terms in office.
Qaradawi is known for numerous anti-Semitic statements such as his Holocaust celebration: “Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.”
The Telegraph reports that the comments were dismissed by Adrian Cohen, chairman of the London Jewish forum.
Mr Cohen said: “Ken Livingstone last made comments to this effect during the Mayoral election. It’s pretty obvious that politicians shouldn’t write off parts of the electorate based on crude assumptions about their perceived relative affluence.
“Many Jews are not rich, indeed many struggle to make ends meet. In any event there are many factors which influence how a person chooses to vote and one shouldn’t refer to Jewish Londoners as if they were homogeneous.”
Last month, Livingstone sought to defend the embattled Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman by claiming that “It is no coincidence that Britain’s first and only black elected mayor has been the focus of endless accusation”. Lutfur Rahman is Bangladeshi.