Ken Livingstone's comments about mental health 'belong in the dark ages' says MP Kevan Jones

The former Mayor of London had said Kevan Jones should see his GP

Kevan Jones, the MP who came to blows with Ken Livingstone
Kevan Jones, the MP who came to blows with Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone’s comments about mental health “belong in the dark ages”, the Labour MP who was subjected to them has said.

Kevan Jones, who is open about his history of depression, was told by the former Mayor of London to “seek psychiatric help” after he criticised Mr Livingstone’s appointment to a defence policy group by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

But Mr Jones told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme that mental health should not be used as a line of attack against people with “political differneces”.

“His comments belong in the dark ages and that’s where they should stay,” he said.

Mr Livingstone told the same programme that he apologised for any offence caused but defended his comments.

“I had no idea that he had any mental health issues otherwise I never would have said it. If he’s upset, I’m sorry. But he can’t blame me: he was the one who came out and attacked me and questioned my competence to do this job,” he said.

“I grew up in South London: if someone was rude to you, you were rude back to them. I didn’t go to Eton and get all that smarmy charming education, I’m afraid. [What Kevan Jones said] is a personal attack, he’s questioning my competence to do the job.”

Livingstone on mental health

His Twitter account later significantly escalated the level of apology, adding: “I unreservedly apologise to Kevan Jones for my comments. They should not have been made at all, let alone in this context.

"I also make this apology because Jeremy is right to insist on a more civil politics and as a party we should take this seriously."

Ken Livingstone had told the Daily Mirror newspaper that shadow defence minister Mr Jones should seek “some psychiatric help” after he criticised the former Mayor of London’s appointment a policy review post.

“I think he might need some psychiatric help. He's obviously very depressed and disturbed,” Mr Livingstone had said. “He should pop off and see his GP before he makes these offensive comments.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on Mr Livingstone to apologise after the comments came to light.

Labour NEC had appointed Mr Livingstone to a review of Labour's policy on Trident, which attracted criticism from Mr Jones.

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