Could cost Labour a huge amount of money. Any judge reading the Independent transcripts will almost certainly conclude that Ken Livingstone’s comments were (as he claimed) based on historical events – the Nazi’s and Zonists both wanted jews out of Germany. If this goes to a proper court the legal costs and damages against Labour will be large.
However, even worse is the damage that the row is doing to the fight against the Conservatives. The Labour NEC has shot itself in the foot, first by letting 11 months pass between the accusation and then using a secret “kangaroo court” – an affront to British justice. Timing the trial to be just before the May local elections is also stupid, or perhaps the timing was chosen to deliberately attack Jeremy Corbyn.
What is at stake is not Ken Livingstone’s career, that is largely over, but his reputation – he will quite justifiably, fight for it. Much more important is the attempt to deny the right to free speech within the Labour Party. Free speech sometimes gives offence and some of the (small number of jews) in the Labour Party have been offended. What is more sinister is the extent to which the Israeli government has been operating within the UK political parties to attack politicians who do not support Israel. There is nothing illegal in that, it is a breach of diplomatic protocol, but it isn’t a very friendly act.
Many people in Britain do not support Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and constant refusal to implement the UN two state solution. That does not make them antisemitic.
True Labour supporters should now put this matter to bed, no referral to Conference, and politely ask Ken Livingstone to take no further action. Oh and STFU.