Tulip Siddiq
Tulip Siddiq

My utter exasperation that Ken was given free rein to offend

In what should have been a textbook disciplinary process, Ken Livingstone has been given free rein to offend the Jewish community for the best part of a year.

It would be all too easy to write another piece condemning the anti-Semitic manipulations of Holocaust history and his repeated baiting of the Jewish community.

Indeed I have done so in the past, and have called for similarly-minded individuals to be expelled from my Party.

However on this instance, I just want to use my words to express my utter exasperation.

I believe that the simple message that anti-Semitism is always unacceptable in the Labour Party should have been made clearer from the outset of this debacle.

It is regrettable that we have had to undertake twelve months of bureaucratic gymnastics in order to see the kind of condemnations that have been forthcoming today.

How many inquiries, how many disciplinary committees need to be convened in order to reach a conclusion that most see as a matter of common decency and common sense?

I have been inundated with messages from local residents who I grew up with, who I went to school with, and who I have remained close with.

They are appalled, not just by Ken Livingstone’s gratuitously offensive comments, but by the lack of decisiveness and the apparent equivocation with which they are handled.

They have told me they are at their wits end with the party, and sadly, many have felt compelled to resign.

My anger that they have been bounced into such a situation knows no bounds.

Neither does my determination to right the insufferable wrong of the past 24 hours.

Last week, I wrote to many Jewish constituents ahead of Passover – that great festival of emancipation.

I gave them my reassurances that I would confront all forms of anti-Semitism, violent and non-violent, and that I would undertake whatever actions I could to improve relations with the community.

The Jewish community contribute profoundly to this country and deserve a political environment free from discrimination and hurtful distortions of their past.

Labour should be seeking the gold-standard in an approach to anti-racism, rather than scrambling to find a safe distance from those who claim to share our values, but whose actions say otherwise.

This has been an embarrassing episode in a historic relationship that is too important for us to abandon.

I would encourage all those reading this to support groups such as the Jewish Labour Movement and to continue making representations to your elected representatives.

Only by repeatedly challenging anti-Semitic language and behaviour will we triumph in ridding our politics of this age-old evil.

About the Author
Tulip is the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn. She was elected in 2015
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