Defend Chris Williamson!
By Jay Blackwood
Following a fiery speech at a Momentum event in Sheffield, MP Chris Williamson is once again in the sights of the Blairites and their appeasers on the soft left of the party. The BBC sums up the latest attacks against him as follows:
Veteran Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge said "nothing less" than suspending the MP would do, while ex-leader Ed Miliband suggested it was a "test" for the party about how serious it was about dealing with the issue of anti-Semitism within its ranks.
Tom Watson has predictably joined the feeding frenzy, following Hodge's demand that Chris is immediately suspended from the party.
One would think, reading these and similar attacks, that Chris is a proven antisemite. You know, in much the same way that Boris Johnson's comments about "picaninnies" and letter-boxes prove that he is an unrepentant racist - something for which he continues to get a free pass in the media and the Tory Party.
So what is the latest evidence that Chris is an antisemite (or a "fucking antisemite" as Hodge called her own party leader last year, for which she escaped without any disciplinary sanction whatsoever)? According to the Yorkshire Post, which reported on the event, Chris's offending comments were as follows:
The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say I think our party's response has been partly responsible for that, because in my opinion...we have backed off too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic.
The reality is that most Labour Party members - include this blogger - would wholeheartedly agree with Chris's words. I have not seen a single shred of evidence from his speech to justify the vile slurs now being thrown in his direction. Condemning the party's supine response to the campaign of vilification conducted by the Blairites, the Israel lobby and the mainstream media is not in any way antisemitic.
In fact, Chris made his feelings on antisemitism crystal clear in August last year, describing it as "utterly repugnant and a scourge on society, which is why I stand in absolute solidarity with anyone who is subjected to antisemitic abuse". That is about as forthright and unambiguous as you can get. But of course it's not enough to satisfy Tom Watson, Margaret Hodge and the like.
I have seen nothing to support the accusation that Chris Williamson is an antisemite, and much to support the proposition that he is a consistent, principled opponent of racism in all its forms.
But of course the attacks on Williamson have nothing to do with genuine concern about genuine antisemitism, which is on the rise across the world and spreading across social media like a disease. It is rather all about ensuring that the focus remains on Labour's supposed 'internal problems', rather than on the murderous Tory regime of austerity.
So it was no surprise to see a large segment of today's politics show on the BBC given over to a friendly discussion between Laura Kuenssberg and a Labour Shadow Cabinet minister about how severely Williamson should be punished for openly questioning the Labour/antisemitism narrative. In this context Chris's apology, doubtless extorted from him by the usual suspects, was just more grist to the mill.
I have consistently argued on this blog that no amount of appeasement will satisfy the MPs who are using the antisemitism issue to undermine the party. Making concessions simply plays into their hands, providing them with more publicity and more material from which to spin their bizarre narrative. Sadly, Corbyn and McDonnell have set the tone on this, with cringe-worthy displays of hand-wringing contrition around an issue which has largely been invented by the mainstream media.
The anti-Corbyn wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party will not be satisfied till Jeremy and his supporters have been hounded from office. They would rather see Labour out of power for ten years than countenance the election of a Corbyn government - even if that means ten more years of grinding poverty for working class people. Failing that, they want at the very least to see Corbyn and his inner circle firmly brought to heal.
For the anti-Corbyn MPs, the antisemitism 'issue' is just a useful weapon in their campaign to undermine Corbyn's newly radicalised party.
If I was facing real antisemites on the street I know who I'd rather have fighting alongside me. It wouldn't be useful idiots like Hodge, Watson or Miliband. It would be real anti-racists like Chris Williamson and Marc Wadsworth.
We cannot continue to play along with the fiction that antisemitism is a major problem inside the Labour Party. We have to call that out, as Chris Williamson has done, while continuing to oppose real antisemitism wherever we find it - just as we consistently oppose all forms of racism. We need to end the witch hunts, and reinstate Marc Wadsworth, who is currently having to pursue his case through the courts.
We need to stand up and support - loudly and proudly - good anti-racist MPs and activists like Chris Williamson, Jacqui Walker and Marc Wadsworth when they're slandered by the mainstream media. And we need to break, once and for all, from the foolish strategy of appeasement that has led us down this suicidal path.
Posted by Jay Blackwood
The LRC agrees with Jay 100%