Labour has covered itself in disgrace with the Chris Williamson controversy

Chris Williamson: It seems he’s doing the Labour version of the Hokey-Cokey. You put your left leg in, you take your left leg out…

The re-suspension of Chris Williamson amid renewed – and malicious, in This Writer’s opinion – screams of “anti-Semite” is a scar on the face of the Labour Party.

The Labour MPs, peers and party employees who have vilified Mr Williamson – without any real evidence, let’s remember – all deserve to be subjected to the same disciplinary procedure, with the threat of being thrown out. Every single one of them. They have done more to bring the party into disrepute than he ever did.

Here are the names of the MPs and peers involved: Tom Watson, Holly Lynch, Stella Creasy, Anna Turley, Rosie Duffield, Louise Ellman, Ruth Smeeth, Jenny Chapman, Roberta Blackman-Woods, Stephen Dought, Karin Smyth, Baroness Thornton, Lord McNicol, Baroness Morgan of Huyton, Lord Turnberg, Gloria de Piero, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, Yvette Cooper, Baroness Massey of Darwen, Baroness Kingsmill, Lord Soley, Madeleine Moon, Kate Green, Ruth Cadbury, Owen Smith, Seema Malhotra, Liz Kendall, Chris Matheson, Margaret Hodge, Stephen Kinnock, Jeff Smith, Chris Bryant, Wes Streeting, Julie Elliott, Lord Levy, Lord Knight of Weymouth, Lord Harris of Haringey, Ali McGovern, James Frith, Lucy Powell, Bridget Phillipson, Pat McFadden, Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall, Lord Triesman, Lord Dubs, Ian Murray, Darren Jones, Alex Sobel, Karen Buck, Neil Coyle, Lord Mandelson, Anna McMorrin, Chi Onwurah, Baroness Taylor of Bolton, Lord Willie Bach, Susan Elan Jones, Ged Killen, Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale, Lord Livermore, Kevin Barron, Dan Jarvis, Jess Phillips, Martin Whitfield, Rachel Reeves, Peter Kyle, Baroness Armstrong of Hilltop, Lord Young of Norwood Green, Ellie Reeves, Baroness Maggie Jones, Rushanara Ali, Debbie Abrahams, Daniel Zeichner, Lilian Greenwood, Graham Jones, Toby Perkins, Lord George Robertson, Baroness Mary Goudie, Barry Sheerman, Tonia Antoniazzi, Ian Lucas, Lord George Foulkes, Lord Wood of Anfield, Cat McKinnell, Ben Bradshaw, Lord Haskell, Lisa Nandy, Gareth Thomas, Lord Brooke, Sharon Hodgson, and Lord Kennedy of Southwark.

Of course, context is everything. If any of them can demonstrate that they were misled and did not understand that they were supporting false accusations, I would certainly advocate leniency. But they all deserve to have their cards marked for this particular abomination.

The letter they signed provides absolutely no evidence in support of their demand.

The most relevant line – ironically – is “It is clear to us that the Labour Party’s disciplinary process remains mired by the appearance of political interference.” Of course, their letter is the most blatant example of political interference there could be. They didn’t like the result of the party’s investigation so they’re trying to change it.

That is how the public sees this and the public has responded with disgust at Mr Watson and his co-plotters.

On the basis of that letter, one may be forgiven for thinking that these Labour MPs and peers are attacking Mr Williamson because they don’t like him. That is the limit of the information in their letter.

Fortunately, The New Statesman‘s Patrick Maguire has provided a letter from 68 anti-Semitic – yes, anti-Semitic – Labour Party staffers, providing details of their accusations against Mr Williamson.

These details include claims that Mr Williamson:

“Shared a platform with Tony Greenstein, suspended from Labour for using terms such as ‘Zio’ and describing a Jewish member of the Labour Party as a ‘Nazi Bitch’.”

I have bad news for these Labour staff – who should know better: Tony Greenstein is himself a Jewish man. He was suspended from Labour for standing up and saying that, as a Jew, he did not accept the way certain prominent members of the party – not all of them Jewish – were making claims of anti-Semitism that did not stand up to scrutiny. You might not like the language he has used but the vilification of this man by these people is clear hatred against a Jew, as a Jew. That is anti-Semitism and everybody who signed this letter is therefore an anti-Semite.

They also complained that Mr Williamson:

“Attended events in solidarity with individuals suspended from the Labour Party for antisemitism.”

How kind of these Labour officers to confirm what many of us have known for years – that those accused of anti-Semitism are automatically assumed to be guilty by the party machine. There’s no justice in Labour’s disciplinary procedures while these people are around!

They said he

“campaigned for the reinstatement of Marc Wadsworth, who attacked Ruth Smeeth MP at the launch of the Chakrabarti Inquiry and accused her of ‘working hand in hand with the press’.”

Mr Wadsworth was well within his rights to accuse Ms Smeeth, as is well-documented. She instantly accused him of anti-Semitism, despite the fact that he did not even know she was Jewish at the time. Labour’s disciplinary procedure led to his unfair expulsion – a decision that created a wave of disgust at the party’s biased system.

You can read this article for more information. It includes Mr Williamson’s tweet in support of Mr Wadsworth, pointing out that he is an anti-racism campaigner who was instrumental in the campaign for justice after the death of Stephen Lawrence.

They said he

“reasserted his support for Pete Willsman, after a recording surfaced of an antisemitic rant about Rabbis and that antisemitism in the Party was manufactured by Israel, an antisemitic conspiracy theory.”

How many times do we have to repeat that criticism of Israel is not anti-SemiticThere is a wealth of evidence to show that the Israeli government habitually interferes in Labour Party affairs – read this article for a taste of it.

They said

“just hours after 11 Jewish people were murdered in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Chris Williamson tweeted a conspiracy theory article from the website Skwawkbox, accusing the Board of Deputies of British Jews of using antisemitic language.”

Here‘s the Skwawkbox piece. As you can see, it was reporting on claims in the Jewish Chronicle that Marie van der Zyl, chair of the self-elected Board of Deputies, had used an anti-Semitic stereotype in a speech.

And you know what Mr Williamson’s comment was? It’s in my article here: “Wow, well blow me down with a feather.” That’s an expression of surprise or shock – not of anti-Semitism. Maybe he was being sarcastic but, in context, that should be no reason for vilification either.

I don’t have personal knowledge of the claims regarding a petition in support of Gilad Atzmon or endorsement of Scott Nelson. I have heard that he was asked to support a petition against calls to boycott a concert by Mr Atzmon, who is a musician by trade. For some reason, at the time of writing, I am unable to access that petition on the site, so I cannot tell whether there is any mention of his political views. If not, it’s possible Mr Williamson was not aware of any accusations of anti-Semitism against that person. In Mr Nelson’s case, my understanding is that this is a person who accepted he had made anti-Semitic comments in the past and apologised for them – and Mr Williamson was calling for people to accept the apology and move on.

So, on the face of it, the evidence against Mr Williamson is spectacularly weak.

There was no anti-Semitism in the speech that prompted his suspension in the first place. See my article here for the facts about that.

The manufactured anger over that speech seemed to be part of a co-ordinated campaign against Mr Williamson; he was also attacked for trying to host a screening of the film Witch-Hunt, that covers the false claims of anti-Semitism against Jackie Walker (and others). Not mentioned by opponents of Ms Walker is the fact that she is herself Jewish. Like Mr Greenstein, she stands up – as a Jew – to denounce the misappropriation of anti-Semitism accusations. Those who accused her, in turn, of anti-Semitism were in fact guilty of the offence themselves.

But they always seem to get away with it, don’t they?

Mr Williamson has tweeted his own impatience with the inconsistency in Labour’s disciplinary process:

As a resident of Brecon and Radnorshire, where Labour is about to field a candidate in a by-election, I am deeply concerned about the misbehaviour of party members and officers who should know better.

It will undoubtedly reflect on the campaign and people may decide not to support Labour because of it.

And then who will be to blame?

It won’t be anyone who has been falsely accused of anti-Semitism but I can’t see Tom Watson biting the bullet. Can you?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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17 thoughts on “Labour has covered itself in disgrace with the Chris Williamson controversy

  1. trev

    I am dismayed but not surprised to see my own MP’s name on that list – Barry Sheerman – he’s completely out of touch and it’s time he resigned. Baroness Thornton too, don’t know how she has the nerve after pocketing £100k in expenses for her mother’s bungalow in Clayton where she hasn’t lived since she was 18.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Agreed. Labour’s processes can’t be trusted and I wouldn’t trust anybody nominated by a Labour representative – on either side. Take it to law.

    2. ELLIE


  2. Simon Cohen

    As A Jew I’m angry and shocked that bogus notions of antisemitism are still being used by the right wing of the Party. We cannot get back to a real Labour Party until most of these atrocious M.P’s are deselected.

    Giled Atzmon, is of course, Jewish and the accusations that Chris supported a ‘holocaust denier’ turn out to be based on his support for Miko Peled, an Isreali Jew whose father was a General in the Israel Army.

    So he has been accused of supporting Jewish people!!! You cannot make this up!

  3. Marie

    You made a great point about how all this is going to be viewed by the electorate and how it could affect the by-election. I think that they want to stop Labour polling high. They have been shouting that Labour is unelectable under Corbyn, so is it not possible that they will do their utmost to turn people away from Labour. Then they can gloat and go for JC.

  4. Audrey Pool

    I totally agree with you Labour will definitely lose votes because of this.The right wing blairites are winning time and time again and the ordinary voters don’t see the political machinations at play only a divided squabbling party.Corbyn is appearing weak and indecisive,incapable of running his party never mind the country.Every policy is mired in uncertainty as one of the usual suspects invariably gets msm attention by disputing official party policy on an almost daily basis.The all encompassing rhetoric of anti Semitism ,charges that are fundamentally flawed and confuse criticism of Israel with true anti Semitic behaviour have become a stick to beat down anyone who supports the left and instead of standing up and defending themselves the party presumes guilt where there patently is none ,apologises and suspends members and mps alike.This is destroying faith in the party,the surge of hope that Cornyn brought is disappearing as the right continue to ruin the party unchecked.If decisive action isn’t taken soon Labour will consign itself to the political wilderness once again which is exactly what the likes of Watson want.

    1. jill Phillips

      It is WE who must take the decisive action. Corbyn is doing everything he can in every way permitted by the constrictions placed on his position – PLUS the incredible power of his unique gifts coupled with unpolluted goodness.
      You say “Corbyn is appearing weak and indecisive….etc. etc.” The most important word vanishes into the force of your very long sentence. This word is ‘APPEARING’!!!
      The media has proved itself. Selected FB & Twitter comments aren’t sufficiently powerful if that’s where they stay.
      We have tp find/invent as many ways as possible way of enabling Corbyn to APPEAR – EVERYWHERE, EVERY DAY… But the most powerful must surely be the incredible local Members’ Groups – out there every day – with videos of the daily messages sent out on FB and Twitter by Corbyn and others

  5. Rita

    The usual suspects are one thing but who exactly were these 68 staff members? I want to see their names and positions and then I want them Jennie Formby to begin action for their gross misconduct or is the behaviour acceptable now?

  6. jaynel62

    I’m sickened by this, there are a number of people in my constituency, Leicester West who are talking of leaving the party as our MP Liz Kendall is repeatedly one of the signatories of such crap

  7. kickoff3pm

    I have every intention to cancel my membership of the Labour party shortly. The thought of government with these people dictating policy over the membership is too hard to imagine. But it won’t matter because as long as Watson is dep leader Labour have no chance of beating Johnson in an election. They won’t have my vote if Williamson is not restored.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Of course your removal from the Labour Party will delight the people you dislike so much. Did you think of that? Much better to stay and be a fly in their ointment.

Comments are closed.