Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

LABOUR Left-Winger Ken Livingstone [...]

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

LABOUR Left-Winger Ken Livingstone [...]

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor

LABOUR left-winger Ken Livingstone was at the centre of a mental health storm today after his 'psychiatric' jibe at North East MP Kevan Jones.

The Durham North MP, and a former senior member of Newcastle City Council, is one of only a handful who has spoken about his personal fight with depression.

But after the criticised the appointment of Mr Livingstone to a senior position in Labour's defence team, the former London Mayor hit back.

Mr Jones, he said, "might need some psychiatric help".

His outburst sparked a storm of criticism from fellow MPs and mental health experts.

Eventually, Mr Livingstone saw fit to apologise - but only after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn ordered him to do so.

And Mr Jones was in an unforgiving mood, saying: "It doesn't really matter if he apologises to me.

"He should apologise to the tens of thousands of people he offended across the country."

The row plunged Labour into a fresh bout of in-fighting at Westminster.

Mr Livingstone's appointment as co-chair of Labour's defence review, which will consider the controversial issue of whether Labour should support renewing the UK's Trident nuclear weapons system, was the start.

Mr Jones, a shadow defence minister who supports renewing Trident, criticised the appointment.

So Mr Livingstone said: "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."

The remarks were immediately condemned by Labour MPs.

Catherine McKinnell, Labour MP for Newcastle North and the Shadow Attorney General, a senior position in Labour's frontbench team, said on Twitter: "Ken Livingstone's comments about my North East colleague Kevan Jones are completely and utterly unacceptable."

Mr Livingstone defended himself by saying he had no idea Mr Jones had suffered a mental illness and had "never heard of him" - even though Mr Jones is a Labour defence spokesman and Mr Livingstone is co-chair of Labour's defence review. …

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