Wales election: Jeremy Corbyn campaign visit cancelled

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has cancelled an assembly election campaign visit to Wales amid fears it would be overshadowed by an anti-Semitism row.

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone has been suspended for his comments saying Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism.

A source close to Mr Corbyn said a “high level of media interest” would have affected the day’s campaigning.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said he agreed with the decision taken on Thursday night.

‘Mountain out of a molehill’

Mr Livingstone had said in a radio interview that Adolf Hitler was originally “supporting Zionism” by wanting to send Jews to present-day Israel, “before he went mad” and started killing them instead.

Commenting on reports that Welsh Labour had asked Mr Corbyn not to visit Wales, former Welsh Secretary Lord Hain said: “Given what’s happening in London, it’s sensible we concentrate on what’s going on in Wales.”

Labour was a “proud anti-racist party”, he told BBC Radio Wales, saying the Livingstone controversy was “an aberration”.

Newport West Labour MP Paul Flynn rejected the idea that Mr Livingstone was anti-Semitic.

He said there was a “misunderstanding” over the comments and denied there was any “crisis” in the party.

“The Labour Party has been friends with Israel and with Jews for ever,” he told BBC Radio Cymru.

“People have made a mountain out of a molehill.”

First Minister Carwyn Jones has called for Mr Livingstone to be expelled from the party, saying he had to “pay the price” for his comments.

In a BBC Wales interview on Thursday, he went on to say that Mr Corbyn would make a campaign visit to Wales “in the next few days”.

But on Friday, a source close to Labour’s UK leader told the BBC: “Jeremy Corbyn cancelled the visit due to a high level of media interest that would have affected the day’s campaigning.”

A spokesman for Welsh Labour later told BBC Wales that the party was trying to reschedule a visit by Mr Corbyn before polling day on Thursday.

Mr Corbyn visited the closure-threatened Port Talbot steel plant in March, but has not been seen in Wales since.

Prime Minister David Cameron has only made one visit to Wales during the election campaign; earlier this week he too visited Port Talbot, and joined Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies at a factory in Gorseinon, near Swansea, although no TV cameras were allowed to film the visit.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron and UKIP’s Nigel Farage have both made two visits to Wales during the campaign.

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