Accused of making antisemitic remarks, former London Mayor Ken Livingstone announced in a statement on Monday that he is to resign from the UK opposition Labour party.
“The ongoing controversy over my suspension from the Labour Party has become a distraction from the current central question of how to replace the Conservative government that is overseeing a decline in the standard of living and the spiral of poverty,” Livingstone said, less than a month after disappointing local elections for Labour.
The 72-year-old Livingstone was for a long time one of the central figures of the party, before being suspended, in April 2016, for saying during a radio broadcast that Adolf Hitler initially wanted to send Jews to Israel and “supported Zionism before going crazy and killing six million Jews.”
“I do not accept the allegations that I have discredited Labour or that I am guilty of anti-Semitism. I abhor anti-Semitism, I have fought it all my life and will continue to do so. ”
The accusations of complacency with regards to anti-Semitism within Labour are thought to have contributed to the party’s worse than expected results in the local elections earlier this month.
Reacting to the resignation of his close friend, Jeremy Corbyn said he was “sad” but felt that “it was the right thing to do.”
Corbyn’s reputation has been seriously marred as a result of the proliferation of inappropriate remarks by some party members and local officials. Since his election to the party leadership in September 2015, several Labour Party activists have been suspended, expelled or forced to resign for making anti-Semitic statements.