Amid the anti-Semitic storm presently engulfing the Labour Party at least its leader Jeremy Corbyn has always had his ideological twin, Ken Livingstone, on hand to rely on for support.
However, in the aftermath of today’s suspension of Naz Shah dramatic differences of opinion have emerged from the Corbyn and Livingstone camps.
Corbyn must be reeling from the pressure he faced following his clearly mistaken initial decision to accept Shah’s apologies without imposing a punishment. He had to backtrack on that later in the day by suspending her.
Corbyn, however, could not escape the key question of whether he considered the comments made by Shah to be anti-Semitic? He did, but did not think the MP was herself anti-Semitic. The only issue he did escape was saying it himself, choosing to instead to communicate through a spokesperson.
Mr Livingstone meanwhile said Shah’s remarks were ‘over the top’ and ‘offensive’ but that it had been a mistake to suspend her.
‘What we have at the moment is a lot of people making a big issue about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. In 47 years I have never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic.
‘We expelled a couple of people from the Labour Party early on for saying things that could clearly be interpreted as anti-Semitic.
‘This is not that; this is an over-the-top comment about the horrendous conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.’
Livingstone’s Labour colleague John Woodcock posted on Twitter: ‘Listening to Ken Livingstone…… who won’t go further than saying Naz Shah’s comments were ‘over the top’. Hard to believe.’
What is really hard to believe is the emergence of division between the two comrades, Corbyn and Livingstone. How this will play out is going to be interesting?