Former UK Labour MP and ex-mayor of London Ken Livingstone, who has long claimed the evidence of anti-Semitism in the party is “lies and smears,” on Friday lamented party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s crushing defeat in the election, partially blaming the result on “the Jewish vote.”
An exit survey released just after polls closed predicted the Boris Johnson-led Conservatives would get 368 of the 650 House of Commons seats and the Labour Party just 191, which would mark its worst result since before World War II. In the last election in 2017, the Conservatives won 318 seats and Labour 262.
With about half the results declared, Boris Johnson’s rival Conservative Party took the 326 seats needed to win and looked set to clinch a landslide.
“The Jewish vote wasn’t very helpful,” Livingstone said. There are some 300,000 Jews in Britain, less than 0.5 percent of a national population of about 66 million.
“Jeremy should have tackled that issue far earlier than he did,” he also said, referring to the anti-Semitism crisis in the Labour party which had snowballed without adequate response.
“It looks like the end for Jeremy, which is disappointing for me since I’m a close ally. I’m sure he’ll have to resign tomorrow,” Livingstone added.
Corbyn has resisted calls for him to step down immediately as head of the Labour party, but said he would resign sometime before the UK’s next election, as he faced intense pressure.
Livingstone was suspended by the Labour Party in 2016 and quit last year over comments about Hitler and Zionism.
Earlier this year he was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying: “It’s not anti-Semitic to hate the Jews of Israel and you can’t have a proper functioning democracy in a world in which the media, whether it’s the press or internet, can just spread lie after lie after lie.”
The comments came as calls grew for Corbyn to step down immediately, as critics within the party blamed his hard-left stances, mismanagement of the party and inability to deal with an anti-Semitism crisis for turning voters off.
Corbyn admitted in an acceptance speech the results were “very disappointing.”
Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth, who is expected to lose her seat to the Conservatives, urged Corbyn to “announce he is resigning as leader of the Labour Party from his count today. He should have gone many, many, many months ago.”
Smeeth has headed the Jewish Labour Movement, which broke with Corbyn ahead of the election, accusing him of anti-Semitism.
“We have become the racist party, the nasty party because of the actions of our leader and the lack of actions of our leader,” she said.
An unnamed Labour MP who was facing the prospect of losing their seat told the Guardian that “The only upside of this is that Corbyn will have to go now. He can retire to the Chagos Islands. They own this lock, stock and barrel.”
Corbyn has pledged to hand over sovereignty to Mauritius of the Chagos Islands, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean.
Corbyn took over Britain’s main opposition Labour party with a vision to remodel the country along socialist lines, but looks to have led his party to its worst defeat since 1935.
To his supporters, the 70-year-old offered a chance to deliver a radical leftist agenda, shaking up the economy and reversing a decade of Conservative public spending cuts.
But the wider public failed to warm to him, a situation made worse by his refusal to take a position on Brexit and accusations of anti-Semitism and sympathizing with terrorists.
Britain’s most senior rabbi suggested anti-Semitism was a “new poison” within the party, which had been “sanctioned from the very top.”
Corbyn failed to dampen the row during a television interview with the BBC, side-stepping repeated chances to apologize to Britain’s Jewish community.
He can also be tetchy and evasive when challenged, such as in 2018 when asked whether he had laid a wreath for Palestinian terrorists four years previously.