Sadiq Khan has admitted that the anti-Semitism row in the Labour Party has damaged his chances of being elected London mayor, costing him votes in this week’s elections.
Currently the favourite to win Thursday’s election, the Labour Party’s candidate for London mayor has admitted that Ken Livingstone’s outbursts linking Hitler and Zionism have made it “more difficult” for Jewish voters to back him. Sadiq Khan, who was on course to become the first Muslim to occupy City Hall , told The Observer:
“I accept that the comments that Ken Livingstone has made make it more difficult for Londoners of Jewish faith to feel that the Labour Party is a place for them, and so I will carry on doing what I have always been doing, which is to speak for everyone.”
Contradicting those who seek to play down the issue of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party by claiming it is not a widespread problem, Mr. Khan told the newspaper:
“There are too many examples in our party of people having these views, and action does not appear to have been taken quickly enough.”
Another leading Labour politician, Shadow Minister without Portfolio Jon Ashworth MP, backed Mr. Khan’s assessment of the damage caused by anti-Semitism in their party. He told Sky News:
“The past few days have been very depressing for Labour activists who want to see us winning next week. People touring TV studios going on and on and on about this hasn’t been helpful. I hope Ken, who has been doing that, now pipes down a bit.”
Despite having himself launched an independent inquiry tasked with tackling anti-Semitism in the party, comments previously made by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have again been used to criticise his own record.
In one of the many posts now deleted from Mr. Corbyn’s personal website, the Telegraph reports he described Marwan Barghouti as an “iconic figure for ordinary Palestinians”.
Mr. Barghouti is a Palestinian political figure who was convicted and imprisoned for the murder of Israeli citizens. Regarded as a leading light in both the First and Second Intifadas, Mr. Barghouti is also an alleged founder of the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, a designated terrorist organisation.
He is currently serving five life sentences for five murders, and a further 40 years for attempted murder. Nevertheless, in the article ‘An icon is born: Marwan Barghouti’, Mr Corbyn wrote:
“His sentence of five life terms by an Israeli Court means he now becomes an iconic figure for ordinary Palestinians, and his unshakable belief that he will be freed is shared by many.
“The Palestinian papers have likened his situation to that facing Mandela after the Rivonia Treason Trial in 1964.
“Indeed the similarities go well beyond the trial and prosecution of Marwan.”
On Sunday evening Mr. Corbyn’s team also refused to answer calls for him to denounce Hamas and Hezbollah, terrorist groups he previously referred to as “friends”.
The newly-appointed Israeli ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, suggested the left is “in denial” about the scale of their problem. He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “You’ve had too many people on the progressive side of politics who have embraced Hamas and Hezbollah.
“Both of them are anti-Semitic organisations, you just have to read Hamas’ charter and it’s like chapters straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
“I’d ask the following question: if you’re progressive, you’re embracing an organisation which is homophobic, which is misogynistic, which is openly anti-Semitic, what’s progressive about that?”