Chris Williamson MP has been suspended from the Labour Party, hounded by the Labour right wing. We call on all our supporters to defend Williamson against these Blairite attacks.

Chris Williamson MP has been suspended from the Labour Party, hounded by the Labour right wing. We call on all our supporters to defend Williamson against these Blairite attacks.

Read: Model motion - Stop the witch hunt. Fight the real racists.

Left-wing Labour MP Chris Williamson has become the latest victim of the Blairite witch hunt. The Derby North MP was suspended from the party yesterday, following an hysterical outcry from the right wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).

Rank-and-file members of the labour movement must rally to defend Williamson against these slanderous attacks. We cannot allow this smear campaign against the left to continue any longer. Enough is enough.

Slanders and smears

As has been the case with so many of the high-profile accusations of anti-semitism against Corbyn and the Labour left, the charges made against Chris Williamson are a conscious and orchestrated attempt to create a storm in a teacup.

The specific comments that have provoked this latest uproar are a statement made by Williamson at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield earlier this week. At the event, the Corbyn-supporting MP told the audience that he believed Labour had made too many concessions in regards to the baseless assertion emanating from the Blairites and their allies in the establishment media that the party is “institutionally anti-semitic”.

"[Labour is being] demonised as a racist, bigoted party,” Williamson noted. “But 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 far too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic...We've done more to address the scourge of anti-semitism than any political party."

Williamson is 100% correct - and he is backed up by the facts. Official figures recently provided to the PLP by Jennie Formby, the Labour general secretary, show that only a miniscule minority of Labour members have been involved in reported cases of anti-semitism.

Just over 1,100 allegations of anti-semitism were referred to the Labour HQ in the past 10 months, since procedures were stepped up to root out any racism in the party. Of these cases, 433 did not involve Labour members. And of the remaining 673 cases, 220 were thrown out due to a lack of evidence to back up the accusations.

This means that there were 453 reports of genuine anti-semitism - in a party of over half-a-million members. And of these cases, 96 resulted in suspensions, with a further 12 expulsions.

Of course, even one racist incident inside our party is one too many. There can be no place for racism and bigotry in our movement. But one swallow does not make a summer. And 453 incidents of anti-semitism in a party of 540,000 - a rate of less than 0.1% - certainly does not amount to “institutional anti-semitism”.

These latest figures confirm the findings of the 2016 Chakrabarti Inquiry, which looked into allegations of anti-semitism and racism inside the Labour Party. The report concluded that whilst there was evidence of “occasional” incidents, anti-semitism was by no means “endemic” within the party.

In this respect, Williamson was completely correct to assert that Labour has “given too much ground” in response to the hyperbolised accusations that the party has a special “anti-semitism problem”. But, of course, why would the Corbyn-haters in the PLP and the press want to let the facts get in the way of a good story?

From tragedy to farce

Jewish newspapers unitedEver since Jeremy Corbyn was elected in 2015, accusations of anti-semitism have sporadically raised against the Labour leader and his supporters.

At first Corbyn’s critics thought they could bring him down through other means - for example, attacking him over his supposed “cosying up to terrorists” (i.e. advocating political dialogue with figures inside the IRA and Hezbollah) or for being a “Kremlin stooge”.

But when it was evident that such mud-slinging would not stick, other lines of attack were sought by Corbyn’s opponents on the right wing of the party. And this is where the furore over anti-semitism began.

Ken Livingstone, the former London mayor, was one of the first victims of this witch hunt, vociferously pursued by the Blairites and hounded off the party NEC.

The right-wingers briefly went quiet in the wake of their failed “chicken coup” in the summer of 2016 and the success of the Corbyn-led general election campaign in 2017. But this was only the calm before the storm.

The Blairite hubbub blew up again in March last year after right-wing MP Luciana Berger (founding member of the new big business formation, the ‘Independent Group’) dug up spurious “evidence” of the Labour leader’s alleged anti-semitism.

Soon we had the farcical sight of supporters of imperialist wars and immigration controls amongst the right wing of the PLP rubbing shoulders with Trump-supporting rabbis, calling a demonstration on Parliament Square to protest against Corbyn’s supposed endorsement of anti-semitism.

Blairites MPs, given ample opportunity to air their opinions in the mainstream media, lined up to condemn the Labour leader and talk of the “shame” that he had brought upon the party. Margaret Hodge chimed in to proclaim that Corbyn has become “the posterboy of anti-semites everywhere”. And three Jewish newspapers collaborated to publish the same front-page story declaring that Labour now posed “existential threat to Jewish life in this country”.

Ever since, the commotion has only intensified. Nowadays it is a deafening cacophony. Even Theresa May - leader of a provably racist, xenophobic party - has had the gall to chime in and accuse Corbyn and the left of racism.

Concessions

John Mann Enough is Enough March 2018At every step, the Labour leadership has tried to calm the situation down, offering reassurances that the “problem” is being addressed. Last summer, this revolved around the party’s adoption of the full IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition of anti-semitism. Unsurprisingly, even when this was done by the Labour NEC, it did not stem the tide of attacks by the Blairites.

Leading figures in the labour movement have consistently offered out an olive branch, with endless concessions to those who assert that Labour is “institutionally anti-semitic”. John McDonnell, Jon Lansman, Owen Jones: all of these and other key voices on the left have unfortunately accepted this ridiculous claim, which has no basis in fact.

Presumably the hope was that by acknowledging the “problem” and addressing the “concerns”, the discussion could be moved on to more pressing matters (such as kicking out the Tories). But this naively assumes that the accusers “concerns” are genuine.

In reality, the Blairites leading this smear campaign are not driven by a desire to eliminate racism and bigotry from within the Labour Party, or from society more widely. After all, those who have split away from the party don’t seem to care that one of their ranks refers to BAME comrades as “funny tinged”. The only agenda for these right-wingers is - and always has been - to drive Corbyn and his supporters into submission.

Reinstate Chris Williamson!

For these reasons, we applaud Chris Williamson for being one of the few honest voices willing to stand firm and tell the truth in the midst of this hysteria. For this ‘crime’ he has been hounded by the Blairites, with dozens of right-wing Labour MPs demanding his suspension the minute his recent comments came to light.

Of course, an apology from Williamson was not enough for these people. They are not interested in having a reasoned debate, but only in claiming a scalp from their opponents on the left.

And what better figure to go after than a principled left-wing MP - one of the most consistent campaigners against austerity and imperialism since retaking his Derby North seat in the 2017 snap election. One only need note his strong opposition to the Trump coup in Venezuela to see that Williamson is not cut from the same capitalist cloth as so many of the careerists in the PLP.

Above all, Williamson has been an outspoken supporter of the demand for mandatory reselection. With his “democracy roadshow” last year, he toured the country to demand greater accountability of Labour’s elected representatives. And in this campaign for “open selection” (supported by Momentum), Williamson has even clashed horns with trade unions leaders, such as Len McCluskey, who scandalously helped to block this measure from being discussed at last year’s Labour Party conference.

It is for these reasons that Chris Williamson has been targeted by the Blairites - not just in this instance, but for somewhile. In recent months, for example, right-wing university Labour clubs have gone after him, nominally for the fact that he has defend others wrongly accused of anti-semitism.

What the Blairites cannot stand is that Williamson has shone a light on their dubious behaviour and treacherous actions, and has emboldened members by demanding that Labour’s grassroots be given the opportunity to kick out these Tories-in-disguise at the first available opportunity. For this, the Labour right wing will never forgive him.

This is why we must defend Chris Williamson and campaign for his immediate reinstatement. He has the full support of all genuine and honest people on the left and in the labour movement, including organisations such as the Jewish Voice for Labour.

We call on all our readers to pass the emergency motions below and tell the Blairites loud and clear: enough is enough. No more lies and smears. No more betrayal and sabotage. We need to deselect the careerists and unite around a socialist programme in order to bring down the real racists: this rotten Tory-DUP government.


Model motion: Reinstate Chris Williamson!

Chris Williamson Jeremy CorbynThis CLP / branch notes with disappointment the suspension of Chris Williamson MP from the Labour Party.

Williamson has been falsely accused of anti-Semitism. This is an excuse for Tom Watson and the anti-Corbyn wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) to demand his removal from the Party.

These right-wing elements are opposed to Williamson because he has been outspoken about the need for mandatory reselection of all Labour MPs by local party members, which is a basic democratic right.

We note with concern that the establishment media and the right wing of the PLP continue to assert that the Labour Party is institutionally anti-Semitic. Unfortunately, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have gone along with this baseless assertion.

The accusation of "institutional anti-Semitism" in the Labour Party is asserted as a fact, despite data released by the Party which show a 0.08% incidence of anti-Semitic behaviour by Party members over the last ten months.

We note that Chris Williamson was simply questioning whether the characterisation of the Labour Party as a racist organisation is fair, and that he even offered an apology and clarification in case his comments had been misunderstood.

It is a scandal that he has been suspended from the Party for this. Meanwhile, figures like Tony Blair - who bear responsibility for the death and destruction of the Iraq War and who repeatedly, openly attack the democratically elected leadership of the Party - are allowed to remain as Labour members. We completely reject such double standards.

We therefore call upon the NEC to immediately reinstate Chris Williamson’s membership of the Labour Party.

Furthermore, we call upon the NEC to immediately implement trigger ballot procedures in all constituencies, in order to allow the Party membership to decide who should represent them in Parliament.

These recent events demonstrate why Chris Williamson is correct to demand mandatory reselection. Such a measure would definitively settle the question of whether it is the likes of Williamson or Watson who best represent the view and values of Labour members.

Model motion: Fight the real racists

This CLP notes with increasing alarm the acceptance of the 'fact' that the Labour Party is 'institutionally anti-semitic' by not only the media, but the right wing of the PLP.

The accusation of "institutional anti-Semitism" in the Labour Party is asserted as a fact, despite data released by the Party which show a 0.08% incidence of anti-Semitic behaviour by Party members over the last ten months.

It is a scandal that we are allowing ourselves to be branded as a racist party. Meanwhile, figures like Tony Blair - who bear responsibility for the death and destruction of the Iraq War and who repeatedly, openly attack the democratically elected leadership of the Party - are allowed to remain as Labour members. We completely reject such double standards.

Furthermore, we call upon the NEC to release a statement firmly rejecting the accusation that Labour is in any way 'institutionally racist', making it clear that Labour and its current leader have a proud record of fighting racism and will continue to do so.

We must also be clear that to defeat racism, we have to fight the conditions that cause it. It is the capitalist system, and its relentless crises, unemployment, insecurity and unaffordable housing that foster racism. It is the apologists for it in the media and the Conservative party who promote racism.

We also call on the NEC to immediately implement trigger ballot procedures in all constituencies, in order to allow the Party membership to decide who should represent them in Parliament. It is unacceptable to allow our representatives to slander the party and its members whilst we put them into office.