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Labour antisemitism row: Sadiq Khan admits crisis could harm him in polls

41‘I accept that the comments that Livingstone has made make it more difficult for Londoners of Jewish faith to feel that the Labour party is a place for them’

Sadiq Khan speaks during an assembly of the London Mayoral election contest AP

Labour’s Mayoral candidate has said he fears his prospects of being elected in London have been dealt a blow by Ken Livingstone’s highly controversial comments linking Hitler to Zionism.

Sadiq Khan, an ex-Labour minister, admitted the party’s leadership had acted too slowly to tackle concerns about racist views in its ranks and conceded there could be electoral fallout following the row over antisemtism within the party.

It comes as around 45 million registered voters prepare to cast their ballots in a slew of elections across the UK this week on “Super Thursday” – including the hotly contested London Mayoral election. It will be the first significant electoral test of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Mr Khan, who is seen as the Opposition’s best hope of a positive result in the elections,said in an interview with the Observer he was not convinced by the polls that put him comfortably ahead.

He added: “I accept that the comments that Ken Livingstone has made make it more difficult for Londoners of Jewish faith to feel that the Labour party is a place for them, and so I will carry on doing what I have always been doing, which is to speak for everyone. If I should have the privilege to be the mayor I will show Londoners the sort of mayor I can be.”

Mr Livingstone, the ex-City Hall chief, who has now been suspended from the Labour Party pending an investigation by the National Executive Committee, last week said in a radio interview: “Let’s remember, when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism – this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”

The row led Mr Corbyn to launch an independent inquiry tasked with probing and tackling antisemitism, to be led by Shami Chakrabarti, the former head of rights group Liberty.

A code of conduct will also “make explicitly clear for the first time that Labour will not tolerate any form of racism, including anti-Semitism, in the party” and provide guidance on acceptable language.

The inquiry will be tasked with opening a dialogue with the Jewish community and will report back to Labour headquarters within two months on how the party can best tackle antisemitism and other forms of discrimination.

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