Ken Livingstone forced to stop taking Iran's money

Ken Livingstone (Photo: AP)
Ken Livingstone (Photo: AP)

Eight days ago, after it became clear that Ken Livingstone, Labour’s official candidate for Mayor of London, had taken thousands of pounds from Press TV, the Iranian dictatorship’s official TV channel, he told BBC London News that he would not resign. Ken stated: “Press TV is one of the few TV channels anywhere in the West that fairly presents the Palestinian case,” adding, quite falsely, that Press TV was “a British company, wholly owned in Britain, that makes and sells programmes to Iran and to other places”.

He has compared working for Press TV to working for Fox News, though as far as I am aware Fox’s owners have never tortured people, killed homosexuals or stoned adulterers to death.

Today, it has been announced that Ken will, after all, be stepping down from the channel, though not until March. His spokesman denied that he had been ordered to do so by the party – and claimed he always intended to stop. Now if that was the case, why didn’t he tell us last week?

I’m told that when ITV’s London Tonight asked a Labour Party spokesman about Ken’s Iranian gig, they said words to the effect of “What? Are you serious?” Since we know that Ken doesn’t do U-turns, at least not when he’s in the wrong, it seems clear that somebody from Labour must have put the thumbscrews on their suicide candidate.

As one commenter on the Standard’s story points out, Ken’s decision may also not be entirely unconnected to the fact, reported in the paper, that Press TV’s bankers have frozen its British account and plan to close it.

Ken has presented at least 17 shows for Press TV – not seven, the figure today’s Standard gives – and on such politically-correct topics as “the invention of the Jewish people” and “Zionist Israel and apartheid South Africa”. He will have earned around £8,500 from these shows.

(Declaration of interest: I too presented a show on Press TV, though I gave up the year before last. Voluntarily.)

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