An Edinburgh lecturer who criticised the suspension of Ken Livingstone from Labour over allegations of anti-semitism is trying to become a member of the Scottish party’s governing body.

Mike Cowley, part of the left-wing slate for the internal Scottish Labour elections, registered “concerns” over the treatment of the former London Mayor, who claimed that Hitler had supported Zionism.

A party source said: "This is a shocking revelation that demands an urgent investigation from the Scottish Labour leadership. It quite simply isn't acceptable for an individual to sign this letter and be on Scottish Labour's decision-making body."

However, Cowley said yesterday: "I have a long history of campaigning on equality issues and in anti-fascist activism. Most recently I helped organise the protest outside Tyncastle against Tommy Robinson and his politics of hate. I unreservedly condemn all forms of racism and anti-Semitism."

Richard Leonard became Scottish Labour’s first left-wing leader in 2017, but his party continues to be dogged by internal bickering between factions.

Moderates are in the majority in Leonard’s MSP group, but the trade unions and party members supported the leader against Anas Sarwar last year.

The Left also has a grip on the Scottish Labour Executive, which makes important decisions about the party, but looming internal elections could help alter the balance of power.

Eight slots for party members are up for grabs in the New Year and the left-wing “Campaign for Socialism” is trying to strengthen its position by winning them all.

However, a row has erupted over a letter that was published during the controversy over alleged anti-semitism in the party, and which was signed by one of the eight left wingers on the slate.

Livingstone, a former Labour MP, was suspended in early 2016 over comments about Zionism - a movement for the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland - and Hitler, whose regime murdered millions of Jews.

He said: “Let’s remember, when Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism. [He then] went mad and ending up killing 6 million Jews.”

The comments prompted fellow MP John Mann to chase Livingstone up the stairs at the BBC’s offices and accuse him of being a “Nazi apologist” and a “fucking disgrace”.

Marlene Ellis, a Momentum activist, was also suspended after describing the action taken against Livingstone as an “outrage”.

Weeks after the Livingstone suspension, Cowley was one of around fifty individuals to put their names to a letter querying the party’s decisions.

They wrote: “We are, however concerned about the recent suspensions of committed Labour Party members for alleged anti-Semitism which undermines serious discussion and thinking.

“We are particularly concerned by the selective use of suspensions, most recently the suspension of Marlene Ellis, a hard working activist with a track record of fighting racism and supporting the local community, for an online post made on behalf of Momentum Black ConneXions which called for Ken Livingstone to be reinstated.”

The individuals added: “We also register our concerns about the suspensions of Ken Livingstone [and three others]. We are disappointed that the appalling behaviour of John Mann MP, haranguing and insulting Ken Livingstone, a senior citizen, and calling him a liar and Nazi apologist in front of cameras…”

They continued: “It appears allegations of anti-Semitism are being used to stifle the sharing of information on some of the uncomfortable events that took place during the Shoah, the Maangamizi (African Holocaust) and free speech.

“We are uncomfortable with the parallel between the suspensions and what took place during the McCarthy era in the United States.”

Cowley, a lecturer at Edinburgh College, signed the letter “in a personal capacity”.

Livingstone quit the party before the disciplinary process was completed. During his suspension, he expanded on his claim that Hitler backed Zionism on account of the Nazi Government signing the Haavara agreement, which aided the relocation of Jews to Palestine in 1933: “He [Hitler] passed a law saying the Zionist flag and the swastika were the only flags that could be flown in Germany. An awful lot. Of course, they started selling Mauser pistols to the underground Jewish army. So you had right up until the start of the second world war real collaboration.”

Lord Foulkes, a Labour peer, said that Cowley signing the letter was “not to his credit”, adding:“What I find disturbing is people in Campaign for Socialism standing to be on the Scottish Executive. If they are successful, it would be the end of the Labour party in Scotland. If they all won, Labour would be transformed from a democratic socialist party into a Trotskyist party.