The Left,  UK Politics

Ken Livingstone’s Nasty Slur

Ken Livingstone has defamed Martin Bright in a particularly stupid and nasty way on Press TV. Martin Bright appears only to be asking for a withdrawal of the slur, and an apology. There is no suggestion that Martin Bright plans to sue, as well he might. If he did, it is likely that Livingstone would have to cave, again:

“Livingstone also refers to Martin Bright… as ‘a bit of an Islamophobe’. Gilligan suggests that Livingstone makes the ‘Islamophobia’ accusation too readily against people who disagree with his views and reminded him that he recently had to apologise and pay damages to Michael Keith for making a similar accusation.”

This is Martin’s response:

I must say I am growing tired of this charge from Livingstone and his cronies such as Bob Pitt at the absurd but unpleasantly sectarian Islamophobia Watch website. (When I last checked, Pitt still works at City Hall).

Livingstone has become an increasingly sad figure, but there is still the possibility that he will be Labour’s candidate at the next London mayoral election. He is also an influential public figure who should not throw around such unfounded and potentially dangerous charges.

For the record I am an Islamophile, not an Islamophobe. i have spent considerable time studying Islam, including three years on an MA at the School of Oriental and African studies while working at the Guardian and the Observer. I have written widely on the subject of the Islamic extreme right and travelled across north Africa and the middle east to do so. The charge of Islamophobe is a serious one, that could have serious consequences for my future work.

I will be writing to Ken Livingstone to ask him to withdraw this defamatory and groundless statement. I hope he does the decent thing and apologises.

Having been down this route before, Livingstone must know that accusations such as these need to be supported with evidence. He must also know that there is no such evidence, the charge he brings against Martin Bright is a mischievous lie, and that he would lose in court.

Martin is also correct to describe the accusation of Islamophobia as a dangerous one. It cannot have escaped Ken Livingstone’s attention that, in recent years, those accused of Islamophobia – and their families – have been the subject of physical attacks and murder plots by religiously inspired fascists. Artists, writers, and journalists have been slaughtered in cruel and horrific ways, following such public allegations.

So why does Ken lie about Martin?

The first possibility is that Ken Livingstone has come to believe – as Jamaat-e-Islami and the Muslim Brotherhood do – that an attack on the politics of these political parties is an attack on God and true religion. As an atheist, it is unlikely that Ken Livingstone has adopted this view. However, as he has allied himself with Islamist groups who see no distinction between religion and politics, it is understandable that Ken Livingstone might wish to give the impression that he shares that perspective. If this is so, it is possible that he has taken the cynical view that, even by losing a libel action, he will win political capital with his extremist chums.

The second possibility is that Ken Livingstone knows that it is highly unlikely that Martin Bright will sue. Journalists have a natural and laudable preference for debate over litigation. Perhaps, knowing this to be so, Ken Livingstone has decided that Martin Bright is the patsy who will never hit back. If that is Ken Livingstone’s reasoning, it is disgusting.

It is particularly galling to see Livingstone throw around the charge of Islamophobia so readily. Despite having spent his political career in alliance with Islamist and far Left groups that undoubtedly are antisemitic, Livingstone always affects indignation that anybody might think that he shares his pals’ views on Jews. Even when no such accusation has been made.

So, will Ken Livingstone apologise? Not a chance. My guess is that this revolting man will up the ante, and will repeat the lie, again and again.

Fortunately, we live in a democracy. We can keep people like Livingstone away from the reins of power. Since Livingstone left office, activists have noted that a number of the fake pet “grassroots community groups” that he funded and deployed as his personal attack dogs have gone to the wall. As long as Labour prevents Ken’s Socialist Action entryists from precuring him the Mayoral nomination for him, Livingstone’s ability to cause harm will be limited to a little frothing on Iranian State telly.