Ken Livingstone’s decision to quit the Labour Party is not a cause for celebration – but a symptom of Labour’s malaise dealing with anti-Semitism.
The former London Mayor has gone from threatening legal action against Labour should he be expelled, to resigning in a matter of weeks.
Citing the ‘distraction’ that his membership was causing he has jumped ship.
Let’s be real.
He has been suspended for two years, and it has been a distraction for two years.
So why he has gone now?
Either, he waited until now to jump ship now because he was told he would have been expelled, in which case Labour defaulted on its disciplinary procedures.
Or he simply wanted to drag out the process of his suspension for as long as possible – to cause maximum damage.
However one looks at it – the fact is Labour failed.
Labour failed to kick him out, and failed to keep a lid on him.
Reacting to Ken’s decision to quit, in typical Corbyn style, he had to be sugar coat and caveat the news.
The Labour leader said: “Ken Livingstone’s resignation is sad after such a long and vital contribution to London and progressive politics, but was the right thing to do.”
Perhaps Jeremy can clarify whether this vital contribution to progressive politics includes an obsession with Hitler, offending the Jewish community, and denying anti-Semitism?
Ever since Shami Chakrabarti issued her report on anti-Semitism, Labour has been slow to act on the problem.
Ken’s decision to quit shows in essence, that he could decide when to go, and that Labour weren’t going to take action.
The fact, that two years down the line from his vile comments he was in a position to decide his own fate on his own terms, says all you need to know about Labour’s plan of action when it comes to tackling anti-Semitism. He should have been kicked out long ago.
It’s indeed ironic in some ways, that even two years after her report, were it not for Shami Chakrabarti’s intervention earlier in May calling for his expulsion, he still may not have gone.
Nevertheless, his departure shows that the Chakrabarti report was not just ineffective – but it was simply cosmetic.
It was Jeremy Corbyn’s attempt to wash his hands of the problem through process.
When the problem of Labour anti-Semitism can decide to go away and evade justice, it is not a time to celebrate. It’s a time to be concerned that Labour aren’t tackling it properly.