Was Tuesday 4th April the day that Holocaust revisionism went mainstream?
On Tuesday night, I could not fall asleep. I did not sleep. (And due to this I had a very grumpy fiancé)
Just a few hours earlier I was delivering a speech in the chamber at Barnet Council about erosion of planning enforcement in the borough and as I was speaking my phone buzzed on the table with a text message.
The message read “Ken: One year suspension”.
Exasperated, I lost my place in my speech, and lost my train of thought. I let the Tories off the hook on that one.
Later when I got home at midnight I spent the night pondering whether Tuesday 4th April was the day that Holocaust revisionism went mainstream, the day Her Majesty’s Opposition, the Labour Party, became a party which condoned, accepted and even promoted such views.
After all, despite finding Ken guilty on all three charges, the Labour Party’s own disciplinary body concluded that a slap on the wrist did the trick, despite three days of repeating the same remarks and going even further than his original comments — exacerbating the hurt upon the Jewish community.
Ken Livingstone has become one of the most dangerous men to Jewish people in Britain. And it is not because he is a vicious and violent anti-Semite (although some argue that he is a non-violent one) who is waiting to beat up or murder Jews in the street but precisely because he is Ken Livingstone.
He is the man who against all the odds, beat the New Labour machine as an independent to become the first Mayor of London.
He is the man who championed gay rights before anyone mainstream was brave enough to take it on.
He is the man who spoke so passionately following the 7/7 attacks.
And because he is this man he is respected and he is also dangerous.
When Livingstone speaks, people do take notice.
When he appears on your television sets giving dozens of interviews people do listen.
When he says “Hitler supported Zionism”, people hear it.
When he states that that that SS set up training camps for Zionists, people begin questioning their confidence in their knowledge of history.
When he grabs a camera and states “So you had, right up until the start of the second world war, real collaboration, [between the Nazi regime and Zionist German Jews]”, some people believe him.
All of these claims have been thoroughly debunked.
And each and every time he offered his new version of history, scores and scores of people on social media seemed to agree, they defended Ken, they championed his position. People like former BNP leader Nick Griffin and posters on Neo-Nazi forums like stormfront were jubilant — finally a mainstream and respected politician agrees with them. And this wasn’t just coming from the far right, the sheer number of people repeating these offensive remarks who claim to be on the left was and remains extraordinary.
Even on Friday, director Ken Loach managed to wage into this debate during an LBC interview and did the exact same thing as Livingstone. Loach took one example — a Zionist Jew in Hungary, Rudolf Kastner — and attempted to turn one instance of history into evidence of proof of the Zionist movement [collective] having agreements or real collaboration with the Nazi regime.
Just read David Irving’s books. They are full of similar historical nuggets which have been twisted and bastardised to suit a political agenda. With Livingstone, there is little difference. And as it happens, Professor Richard Evans, the expert witness in the David Irving vs Deborah Lipstadt trial also disputes Livingstone.
But the history and the facts and context from academics is not the problem. In this post truth world, where social media and availability of niche alternative news, feeds conspiracy it becomes even more important that people who know that if they have an audience, are responsible with their words. Ken Livingstone has failed in this by any standard. He no longer cares about rewriting history, dragging the Holocaust through the mud or offending Jews. In fact, I think he takes delight in it, I do not have any other explanation for his repeated outbursts over the past week.
The Labour Party say that they are going to investigate a new set of complaints, based around his utterings after the disciplinary hearing. Good. Finding him guilty for a second-time round will no longer be enough to repair the damage he has done to the authentic and truthful memory and history of the Holocaust.
The Labour Party have now let this Holocaust revisionism genie out of the bottle. It is yet to be seen if they can put it back.