The decision on 24 February by an adjudication panel of the Standards Board for England to suspend London Mayor Ken Livingstone is an outrage against democracy. Livingstone should be reinstated.
Yes, Livingstone is a shyster. We have often criticised him. Yes, he should have apologised for his outburst against a Jewish newspaper reporter. We said so at the time. Having seen Ken Livingstone endorse a campaign denouncing us as part of a "world Zionist conspiracy", back in 1983, yes, we think his sort of "anti-Zionism" does tip over into effective anti-semitism.
But Livingstone was elected. He has been suspended - sacked - by an unelected body, appointed by the Government.
Such unelected bodies should not have the right to remove elected representatives.The precedent is very dangerous. What would they do with a genuinely left-wing mayor, who surely also would say things that offended many people?
The hypocrisy is also breath-taking. If the elected Ken Livingstone should be deposed for stupid remarks, then something much worse should be done to the elected Tony Blair.
It should be possible for politicians to be "recalled", rather than being untouchable in office for four or five years. The Greater London Assembly should elect, and be able to remove, the Mayor. Each electorate, if a suitable minimum number of voters petitions for it, should be able to "recall" its representative.
But unelected bodies should not have the power to undo the results of democratic elections.