Ken Livingstone, the Daily Mail and the Anti-Semitism Allegations

Hollingworth’s book, The Press and Political Dissent: A Question of Censorship, also throws some light on the ultimate origins of the anti-Semitism allegations, at least as far as they concern Ken Livingstone. In the chapter on Leninspart and the GLC, Hollingworth describes how the editor of the Daily Heil, at that time David English, was convinced Red Ken was an anti-Semite, and approached George Tremlett, a Conservative councillor and chair of the GLC Housing Committee, to ask questions about the GLC supporting two Jewish organisations in order to expose him. He writes

Two months later, in March 1983, Tremlett received another call, from Arthur Williamson. According to Williamson, Sir David English, the editor of the Daily Mail, had personally drafted a question for Tremlett to ask in the council chamber. English was convinced that Livingstone was anti-Semitic. And so he wanted a Conservative councillor to request that Jewish groups like ‘The Student and Academic Campaign for Soviet Jewry’ and ‘Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry’ be given facilities at County Hall. The Mail’s editor wanted it to be asked in Question Time because he was sure Livingstone would refuse, but Tremlett again refused to co-operate. However, the Mail persisted, and the paper’s home affairs correspondent, Anthony Doran, twice telephoned Tremlett to find out if he had asked the question. Unperturbed, the Mail launched its own campaign to champion these Jewish organisations – ‘Jewish Group Accuses GLC: Why Can’t We Hold Exhibitions? reported Doran on 18 March 1983. The Mail’s campaign lasted nearly a year with the paper accusing the GLC of being ‘The Politburo Beside The Thames’. 97-8).

I’ve read nothing to suggest that Ken’s an anti-Semite, and much that points in the opposite direction. He very clearly condemns all kinds of racism, including anti-Semitism, in his book, Livingstone’s Labour. He is also genuinely horrified at the way the US and Britain after the War employed former Nazis, men who were responsible for the most horrific atrocities against Jews and others during the War, as part of the global fight against Communism. This looks to me very much like the Israel Lobby and the Blairites trying to hang on to power using a script that was first used 30 years ago by the Daily Heil. It’s an accusation that even Ken’s Tory opponents on the council refused to indulge.

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