History / Politics

Hitler in springtime

Ken Livingstone has been sacked from his Saturday-morning gig with David Mellor on LBC Radio, over his ‘controversial’ comments on Hitler and Zionism.  Which seems as good an opportunity as any to remember some of the Left’s more histrionic comments on Hitler. They’re not all from Livingstone, though he does turn up more often than is strictly prudent.

Joan Maynard, reported in 1982: ‘Ms Joan Maynard, who was one of the casualties of the NEC purge, compared the Right-wing’s attitude towards the supporters of Militant with Hitler’s attitude to the Jews.’ [1]

Tony Benn, reported in 1982: ‘Mr Benn raised the spectre of fascism in Britain and compared the national press with Mein Kampf.’ [2]

Tony Benn in 1983: ‘[Hitler’s] attack on the union movement is identical to what is being said now by Mrs Thatcher and her ministers.’ [3]

Ken Livingstone in 1983: ‘If Thatcher gets re-elected you’ll most likely get legislation which would allow the government to detain people who are political activists … It would then be very easy for Thatcher to say there are elements in society undermining civilisation as we know it. We need camps to put them in.’ [4]

Ken Livingston in 1983: ‘What Britain has done for the Irish nation is, although it is spread over 800 years, worse than what Hitler did to the Jews. The difference is that one was compacted into a short period of time.’ [5]

Eric Hammond to hecklers at the 1984 TUC conference: ‘Hitler would have been proud of you lot.’ [6]

Eric Heffer in 1984: ‘We are witnessing not the fascism of Hitler and Mussolini, nor the military dictatorship of a Pinochet or a Franco, but the creation of a sort of controlled democracy, a sort of top-hatted fascism, a mixture of Thatcher’s Victorian values and modernistic techniques, and Orwellian big-sisterism.’ [7]

Linda Bellos in 1987: ‘In Europe we see rising fascism. We see it in this country. What we have seen from the Tories has been horrendous and does lead eventually to gas chambers. It started with prison ships in Harwich. We see detention centres. We see black people being murdered on the street.’ [8]

Tony Banks on Kenneth Clarke in 1993: ‘In his usual arrogant and high-handed fashion, he dons his Thatcherite jackboots and stamps all over local opinion. He is like Hitler with a beer belly.’ [9]

Jeremy Corbyn on Augusto Pinochet: ‘He is the second most evil man of the century, after Hitler.’ [10]

An unidentified trade unionist, described by Polly Toynbee in 1997: ‘In a trade union office plastered with Vote Labour posters, I came across one featuring a beaming Blair and the slogan “Britain deserves better”, but some malcontent had inked in the words “than him”, together with a Hitler moustache.’ [11]

Carys Pugh, an activist from Rhondda: ‘Ron Davies is behaving like Hitler.’ [12]

Ken Livingstone in 1999: ‘Like Hitler with the Jews, Milosevic has inflamed and exploited the fears of some Serbs about their Muslim and Croat neighbours in order to rise to power.’ [13]

Ken Livingstone in 2000: ‘Every year the international financial system kills more people than the Second World War. But at least Hitler was mad, you know?’ [14]

Jack Straw in 2001: ‘You can’t negotiate with these people [Al-Qaeda]. The best historical parallel, I’m afraid to say, is those at the top of the Nazi regime.’ [15]

John Pilger in 2002: ‘Bush and Blair are behaving exactly like Hitler in the 1930s.’ [16]

Ken Livingstone in 2011 on his rivalry with Boris Johnson: ‘It’s a simple choice between good and evil. I don’t think it has been so clear since the great struggle between Churchill and Hitler.’ [17]

Sioux Blair-Jordan, a delegate from Colchester, at the 2015 Labour conference: ‘If Cameron does his Bill of Rights, we might as well walk into the gas chambers today.’ [18]

Len McCluskey: ‘Whatever the law says, I will be on the picket line when Unite members are on strike and I will not be wearing the armbands with the red triangle, like the trade union prisoners. Remember that’s what the Nazis did to trade unionists in the concentration camps at Dachau.’ [19]

And finally a word from the right, with Margaret Thatcher’s former advisor Sir Alfred Sherman in 1987: ‘The SS were as much victims as the Jews were. Without Hitler, they would have been decent young men but they were turned into monsters and they died.’ [20]


[1] Guardian 29 September 1982

[2] Guardian 29 September 1982

[3] Guardian 14 March 1983

[4] NME 9 April 1983

[5] Guardian 27 August 1983

[6] Times 4 September 1984

[7] Times 2 October 1984

[8] Times 28 September 1987

[9] Greg Knight (ed.), Parliamentary Sauce: More Helpings of Political Invective (Robson, London, 1993)

[10] Independent 16 June 1994

[11] Independent 24 April 1997

[12] Independent 11 September 1997

[13] Independent 21 April 1999

[14] Independent 12 April 2000

[15] Daily Mirror 29 September 2001

[16] Sunday Mirror 29 September 2002

[17] Express 19 August 2011

[18] Daily Telegraph 29 September 2015

[19] Daily Telegraph 29 September 2015

[20] Times 22 September 1987


One thought on “Hitler in springtime

  1. This article should be re-cycled given the current way Trump’s ban on visitors to the US is being compared to Hitler and the Final Solution.

    As so often on the Left, its rhetoric is a form of political triangulation. If the Left gets in first and compares Trump to Hitler, they feel that their opponents can’t compare anyone else to Hitler. Even if the comparison is far more valid, as in the cases of Stalin and Mao, who were of course both on the Left.

    The orchestration of the protests against Trump and the haste with which they are being arranged are designed to prevent anyone else asking why it was acceptable for the Chinese President Xi Jinping to be invited on a state visit, given the political repression, the censorship, the occupation of Tibet, the military intimidation of its neighbours, the massive economic inequalities, the absence of a welfare state, the huge number of executions and the way in which baby girls are left to die – all under the banner of Communism.

    It is extraordinary that the Left seems intent on and content with occupying the Twittersphere, at a time when the number of seats that they occupy in elected Parliaments in the UK, the US and probably soon France is collapsing.


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