Ken Livingstone’s liking for dictatorial analogies is normally confined to Hitler and the Nazis. Yesterday, the former London mayor expanded his repertoire by describing the tribunal that led to his suspension from the Labour Party as like “sitting through a court in North Korea”.
Mr Livingstone appears to have an almost pathological obsession with making unsavoury allusions. His most egregious was a suggestion that Hitler was a supporter of Zionism because he was interested in finding a homeland for Europe’s Jews, as though the Nazi leader was making some sort of charitable gesture “before he went mad and murdered six million”.
This remark led to his being arraigned before a Labour disciplinary panel, which found he had brought the party into disrepute but stopped short of his expulsion and suspended him instead. He responded with characteristic bombast, denouncing the process and insisting he would not be cowed from telling the “historical truth”.
But this is not a “truth”. It is a tendentious view of history, deployed with the express purpose of likening the Israelis to the Nazis to reinforce his views about Palestine and underpin his hatred of America. It is an odious tactic that he has used in other contexts; but when it is deliberately directed at the Jewish state it crosses a boundary that makes it unacceptable.
Mr Livingstone’s defiant response to the tribunal’s ruling has horrified Labour MPs, forcing Jeremy Corbyn to order yet another inquiry. But the party leader does not want to expel him because to lose one of his closest allies on the hard Left would weaken his position still further. They are, after all, cut from the same cloth.