Ken Livingstone believes his suspension from Labour is part of a right-wing plot to keep him out of the National Executive Committee (NEC) — the party’s most powerful administrative body.
The former mayor of London was suspended from the party last month after he claimed that Adolf Hitler was a Zionist.
Livingstone was one of at least 18 members who have been suspended for alleged anti-Semitism since Jeremy Corbyn became leader.
Speaking to BBC Radio London on Monday morning, Livingstone said no one from the party had told him when his hearing would take place, and said it would probably be delayed to prevent him from standing to be elected to the NEC.
“I haven’t heard anything about the date of it (the hearing),” he told presenter Nikki Bedi. “If it’s put off long enough, it will prevent me from standing for Labour NEC which is what I think the right-wing MPs wanted, basically. They want me out of the way before a vote on Trident, and things like that.”
Livingstone is widely regarded one of the party’s most radical voices, and holds many opinions which are at odds with the majority of Labour MPs. For example, he avidly opposes the renewal of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system.
Dozens of Labour MPs, including Yvette Cooper and new London mayor Sadiq Khan, called for Livingstone to be suspended for his remarks about the Nazi leader. Livingstone has repeatedly defended his comments as “historical fact” — a claim he made once again on Monday.
“I can’t see how I can have any regrets about stating historical fact,” he told the BBC.
“This is where you’re wrong and the BBC’s bad. Why hasn’t one of the researchers the BBC employs gone and studied this and come up with the facts? It’s a treaty. It’s there.
“In 1935, Hitler passed a law which said only two flags be flown in Germany: the swastika, and the Zionist flag. This isn’t something I’m claiming. I’m struck by the number of times Jewish people have come up to me and said: ‘What’s going on, don’t these MPs read history?'”
Livingstone — who was an advisor to Corbyn and co-covenor of the party’s international policy commission — added: “This has been whipped up by those bitter old Blair-ite MPs who want to get rid of Jeremy.”
The NEC is one Labour’s most powerful bodies, with the ability to expel members who bring the party into disrepute. Nominations for the body close on June 24, meaning if Livingstone’s hearing is delayed, he probably won’t able to stand for election.
The clip below shows the moment Labour MP John Mann confronted Livingstone and called him a “Nazi apologist”:
Watch this. Extraordinary. John Mann MP: You’re a disgusting Nazi apologist, Livingstone’. pic.twitter.com/1wlbA1BmND
— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) April 28, 2016
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