Livingstone, who was mayor of London from 2000 to 2008, has a penchant for gaffes. He’s also been accused numerous times of making antisemitic remarks. In 2005, he asked a reporter if he was a “German war criminal;” when the reporter responded that he was Jewish, Livingstone said, “Ah right, well you might be, but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard, you are just doing it because you are paid to, aren’t you?” In 2012 he said that Jewish voters wouldn’t vote for him because they were too wealthy. (Livingstone has also said that Britain’s Conservative Party was “riddled” with gay members, compared a government official to Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic, and said Boris Johnson, the Tory Ken Livingstone, was Hitler.)
Livingstone is in trouble again, after attempting to defend Labour Party colleague Naz Shah, who was recently suspended from the party for saying that Jews should be relocated from Israel. While Livingstone made a good point—that anti-Zionism and antisemitism were different things—he also made a series of bad ones. He said that there were no antisemites in the Labour party, which is absurd, and also claimed that “before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews,” Hitler was a Zionist.
Livingstone has since been suspended from Labour “for bringing the party into disrepute,” and is currently being investigated. But Livingstone’s remarks are part of a larger pattern—Livingstone and Shah are not the only Labour members who have been accused of antisemitism recently—and the crisis isn’t going away, especially with Johnson and David Cameron fanning the flames.