Ken Livingstone Backtracks on Apology

Ken Livingstone has backtracked on his apology for suggesting shadow defence minister Kevan Jones “might need psychiatric help”, after he was accused of being forced by the Labour leadership to say sorry.

The former London mayor re-ignited a row just hours after tweeting that he “unreservedly apologised” to Jones for telling the Mirror: “I think he might need some psychiatric help. He’s obviously very depressed and disturbed … He should pop off and see his GP before he makes these offensive comments.”

Livingstone made the remarks after Jones, who experienced depression in 1996, questioned his appointment as co-chair of Labour’s review of Trident.

The veteran Labour politician initially refused to retract his comments, accusing Jones of “wimping around”, telling him to “get over it” and blaming his own south London background for the fact he is rude back when someone is rude to him. But after speaking on the phone to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Livingstone publicly apologised, saying the comments should “not have been made at all, let alone in that context.

“I also make this apology because Jeremy is right to insist on a more civil politics and as a party we should take this seriously,” he added.”

Corbyn, a long-time campaigner against stigmatisation of those with mental health problems, is said to be angry and upset about the comments but believed Livingstone’s remorse was “sincere”. But before long, Livingstone was back on the television air waves for a fresh confrontation with Jones on Channel 4 News.

Appearing from his home, he said the apology was made because Corbyn had told him that Jones was “actually quite a decent guy and reminded me that Jeremy’s strategy is that we don’t do all the offensive backstabbing and rows and I just got on board with that”.

He then watered down his apology by saying: “If I’ve upset anyone, I’m really sorry. But this row isn’t something I started. It’s because I was attacked as not fit for this job.”

Jones, who was in the Channel 4 studio, responded by accusing Livingstone of having been forced into an apology after causing offence.

Source: The Guardian