UK Politics

Livingstone stands by Savile jibe at Jarvis donors

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Media captionKen Livingstone told the BBC his comment was "meant to be deliberately provocative"

Ken Livingstone is standing by his comments about a hedge fund donation to a Labour MP being like "Jimmy Savile funding a children's group".

The former London Mayor told BBC News Dan Jarvis's acceptance of the cash showed he was not "genuinely Labour".

The Savile comment was branded "disgusting" by one Labour MP - and former home secretary Alan Johnson said he should "keep his trap shut".

Mr Jarvis, who is tipped as a future Labour leader, has yet to respond.

Mr Livingstone told BBC News: "All hedge fund managers want is to know that they're going to have a prime minister who's going to allow them to continue to evade tax and it's totally unacceptable for hedge fund managers to be contributing to anyone in the Labour Party.

"No-one in the Labour party who's genuinely Labour would want to take a penny from them."

'Outrageously stupid'

Pressed on his choice of analogy, he said: "It's meant to be deliberately provocative because I'm saying to Dan Jarvis if you want to be a serious player in the Labour party, don't mix with these people, they're sick."

Mr Livingstone made the Savile comment in an interview with LBC Radio, after Mr Jarvis made a speech setting out his vision for returning Labour to power.

He said there is an "embittered group of old Blairites who are looking for someone to challenge Jeremy" and they think Dan Jarvis is "someone credible to run".

Alan Johnson has described Mr Livingstone's comments as "outrageously stupid," in an interview to be broadcast at 22:00 GMT on BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight.

He will add: "Ken should learn to keep his trap shut."

Labour MP Ian Austin, a frequent critic of Mr Corbyn, tweeted that Mr Livingstone's comments were "disgusting. Just disgusting."

Another Labour MP, Jamie Reed, told The Huffington Post: "There's no sewer so fetid that Ken won't swim in it.

"No regard for the victims, no regard for the pain and anger he will have caused, and no care for the damage he continues to do to Labour.

"It's another embarrassment. I look forward to his shame-faced apology for his latest sickening outburst."

'Ken is Ken'

Former shadow minister Michael Dugher, who was sacked by Mr Corbyn in his first reshuffle, was quoted as telling the Huffington Post's Paul Waugh: "Ken Livingstone is not fit to lace Dan Jarvis's boots."

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Image caption Dan Jarvis is being tipped as a future Labour leader

Asked if he thought Mr Livingstone's comments were appropriate, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: "Well Ken is Ken isn't he, really?"

He added he knew Dan Jarvis and he was "an honest and decent bloke who is making a major contribution to the Labour Party".

Mr McDonnell said he "welcomed" Mr Jarvis's speech, describing it as "part of the democratic debate on the Labour Party".

Mr Jarvis, a former paratrooper, is widely tipped as a future Labour leader.

In his speech on Thursday, he argued for a more "radical" approach to the economy than that pursued by New Labour in order to tackle inequality and win back voters.

According to the Register of Members' Interests, Mr Jarvis received £16,800 from hedge fund manager Martin Taylor in February to support his work as an MP.

Mr Taylor, who according to reports in January was closing his Nevsky Capital hedge fund, has been one of Labour's biggest personal donors in recent years.

Mr Jarvis was also given a donation of £12,500 in January from businessman Peter Hearn, who owns a financial recruitment agency.

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