Labour’s Andrew Dismore has said pushing for the expulsion of Ken Livingstone from Labour will be a priority after being reelected as the London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden.
The former MP triumphed by a large margin of 16,000 over Tory Dan Thomas, despite concerns the anti-Semitism scandal that has dogged Labour could cost him significant support among the Jewish community.
While it was down on his 21,000 majority in 2012, he admitted to the Jewish News the result was far better than he anticipated.
He told the Jewish News: “I knew it was going to be close but we did rather better than I thought. I am grateful particularly to my Jewish constituents who kept faith with me. I will keep faith with them as I have throughout my political career, and one of my first objectives is to continue my campaign to have Ken Livingstone chucked out the party for good.
“I cannot believe he won’t be out of the Labour Party before too long. So many people towards the centre of the leadership have had enough of him, and so have I and so have the people of Barnet and Camden”. Following further offensive comments in the media in recent days, he added, the disciplinary process must be completed as “soon as possible”.
Turning to the wider issue of anti-Semitism within the party following the suspension of around 20 members, councillors and an MP, and the creation of an inquiry, he said: “At long last we’re seeing people get to grips with this problem. We’re not talking about hundreds of people I don’t think but they have to go and Ken livingstones should be top of the list.”
He added: “Jeremy has to do something to reach out to the Jewish community far more than has happened so far.”
After an administrative error meant hundreds of voters across Barnet were unable to vote yesterday morning – including the Chief Rabbi – a small margin of victory either way could have made a legal challenge inevitable. Thomas said a challenge remained “possible”.
He insisted he didn’t want to be a “sore loser but we have to remember potentially thousands of People were turned away and depending on the margin between Barnet and Labour in Barnet and Camden I’d be crazy not to consider it. But I don’t want to pick over the elections for the next few weeks.”
While he had been “cautiously optimistic” about the result, he said the party of government often suffers at local elections and added that Dismore’s name recognition from years as an MP and incumbency as an AM proved a major advantage. The release of the ward breakdowns – expected on Monday – would shed light on the impact of the anti-Semitism scandal and Labour’s standing in the community on the vote.
Mike Katz, vice-chair of Jewish Labour Movement said: “Andrew Dismore’s reelection in Barnet & Camden is a real testament to the hard work he has done to champion the interests of his Jewish constituents, in City Hall and as an MP before that. I’m glad they saw through the Tories’ nasty, divisive campaign.”
Barnet and Camden was one of the few constituencies where Zac Goldsmith triumphed in the race for City Hall, though by a smaller margin than expected. Meanwhile, former deputy mayor of London Nicky Gavron, number two on Labour’s London-wide list, won another term on the London Assembly.