Ken and his fact

Recently, I posted a couple of articles celebrating Ken Livingstone’s visit to Nottingham.
I enjoyed his folksy style of speaking – a history through personal memories – and his enthusiasm for talking about big issues – such as the need for investment in Britain.
Members of the audience celebrated his contribution to equalities.

Since then (Tuesday), a Bradford MP was exposed for something unpleasant she re-tweeted when an activist, a year before becoming an MP.  In Parliament, the next day (Wednesday), she didn’t defend what she had then done, explained how she was trying to make amends and in a way, was seeking mercy.

Something of a surprise then to find Ken deciding to defend her the morning after (Thursday), when she herself thought there was no case to plead.  The Independent has published his remarks.  In essence, I think there are 2 main problems with Ken’s remarks:
– protraying the existence of an agreement between Adolf Hitler and a group of Zionists – a fact – as something significant in the history of all that has happened;
– remarks about the holocaust only happening once Hitler had gone mad.
John Mann MP reacted melodramatically to the remarks.  (Considering what we have done in the past to remarks made by others along these lines, you could easily argue justifiable. It did however reduce the scope for a healing process.)
LBC nigel farage
(UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, wondered just what people would have done, if he, or one of UKIP’s councillors had made the remarks.)

Meanwhile, later on Thursday, and on Friday,
the Society of Jewish Socialists
IMG_4325 (2)
and Open Democracy
open democracy comment
published fuller and considered analyses that bring proportion and perspective to what has happened.

These statements express a proper response (with some quibbles) more effectively than I can.   And while we’ll have got some value from re-visiting our values and codes of conduct, the row has been a massive distraction, and statements extolling Ken’s fact, or condemning him with heavy words limit the scope for learning.

Finally, a Guardian article published Saturday that puts that fact into a proper historical contest.

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