The common thread between Ken Livingstone on the IRA and on Jews and Israel

It looks as if Ken Livingstone faces a tougher time with the Labour party over his “Hitler was a Zionist” remarks than he did over consorting with Gerry Adams when the IRA campaign had ten years to run to the first  ceasefire.

What was the charge against him in 1983-4?  That he gave comfort to the IRA by supporting  their key demand of “Brits Out,” without demanding an IRA ceasefire.  The evenhandedness of his call for an end to violence stuck in British and unionist craws.  However the 1994  ceasefire when he wrote this piece  made him seem prophetic. The GFA in 1998 made the whole case basically redundant- if you ignore the failure of the Brits out demand.

In 1984 as today with his out of tune comments on anti-semitism, Labour was at a very low ebb.

What makes Livingstone do it? He will have his defenders in both cases. Either sheer perversity or a probe to test the strength of the radical left,  to whom Unionism and Israel are basically false consciousnesses?  It didn’t work over Northern Ireland and is unlikely to strengthen the hand of critics of Israel.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London