The leaders of the body representing thousands of Labour councillors have condemned the “lenient” punishment handed to Ken Livingstone and demanded an urgent meeting with the party’s general secretary amid mounting pressure for further action.
Jeremy Corbyn announced within hours of the decision not to expel the former mayor for bringing the party into disrepute that the NEC would start a new investigation.
But councillors Nick Forbes and Alice Perry, who head the Labour Group of the Local Government Association and also sit on the party’s NEC, complained that Livingstone remains able to attend meetings and canvass on behalf of the party during the remainder of his two-year suspension while “continuing to share views that are causing great offence to Jewish communities”.
In a letter to the Labour’s general-secretary Iain McNicol, seen by the Jewish News, they said his words “undermine” efforts to build good community relations.
They wrote: “The Labour Party is responsible for running the administrations of over one hundred local authorities in Britain and as such we carry an enormous responsibility to foster community relations, to develop community cohesion and to take a strong stand against intolerance. The decision of the NCC is not compatible with that responsibility.
“The Labour Party relies on discipline to function as a party and elected officials such as Labour councillors across the country are expected to measure up to our high standards. Mr Livingstone a former MP, Councillor, NEC member and Mayor of London, appears to have been measured by a much lower standard and we think that calls into question the appropriateness of the NCC’s sanctions.”
They added: “We hope that we can have a discussion about this at the soonest possible date and that the NEC will agree to review the sanctions.”
The next scheduled NEC meeting is it for another month but the officers of the governing body – including Corbyn, Tom Watson and McNicol – can choose to refer the case straight back to the national constitutional committee without a full NEC gathering.