Podcast Ep 26: Why Labour won’t deliver socialism

On Episode 26 of The Electronic Intifada Podcast, we have an in-depth conversation with former UK Labour MP Chris Williamson.

Williamson was the only Labour MP under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership period to acknowledge the truth about the party’s “anti-Semitism crisis” – that it was a manufactured disinformation campaign orchestrated by the pro-Israel lobby and the right.

As a result, he was pushed out of the Labour Party, finally quitting to run as an independent MP in last year’s general election. Now, with Corbyn being suspended as a member of Labour’s parliamentary group, very similar tactics are being used against the former Labour leader.

We discuss the state of the Labour Party and the future for the left.

“I think the Labour Party is going through an existential crisis, to be honest with you, which I don’t think they can recover from,” he says. He argues that “it’s no longer a suitable vehicle to deliver socialism.”

We also pay tribute to Robert Fisk, a veteran war reporter and the author of Pity the Nation, among other books covering the history of western imperialism in the Middle East.

Fisk’s most lasting legacy is how he revealed the truth about the Israeli-led massacre of Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon.

Exactly how many were killed between 16 and 18 September 1982 remains unknown, but estimates vary from 800 to 3,500.

Sabra and Shatila, Fisk wrote in The Independent in 2012, “are a memorial to criminals who evaded responsibility, who got away with it.”

Articles we discussed

Theme music by Sharif Zakout

Music: “Sa’alouni al-Nass,” Fairuz

Image: Chris Williamson addressing a Jewish Voice for Labour protest against the IHRA “working definition” in 2018. The document conflates legitimate criticisms of Israel with anti-Semitism. (Stephen Chung/Newscom)

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In 1974 the BBC broadcast Colin Welland's play Leeds United about the clothing workers' strike in 1970. The play is wholly in favour of the women workers not only against their employers but also their time-serving union officials and a manipulative CP agitator, more concerned with ideological purity than the women's interests. Not only socialistic, the play was anarchistic in its suggestion the women can do things for themselves: they are resourceful, cheeky, cynical, life-loving and resilient. They don't need union officials or politicians on the make. That's why Labour won't deliver socialism. It has been a Party of careerists almost since its inception. Its claim to speak for the common folk is belied by the millionaire lifestyles of its leaders. Blair is an eyesore in that regard. Margaret Hodge sits atop her pile of money, some of it made from investments in South African apartheid, and pretends to be on the side of equality. Labour will never deliver socialism because it is afraid of the common folk. It doesn't want them to run their own lives. It patronises them, bamboozles them and lets them down again and again. You will see no play like Leeds United on the BBC today. Why not? Thatcher. And Thatcher was given her opportunity by Callaghan, an old man clinging to power. His delay between October 1978 and May 1979 was fatal. His imposition of wage restraint on some of the poorest paid workers while he enjoyed his lavish farm in the Home Counties, simple hypocrisy. The Tory press were quick to label the strikes that followed the "winter of discontent". In 1974 people voted twice for a "shift of wealth and power to working people". What did they get? Public sector cuts and pay restraint. The people will make socialism themselves or it won't arrive. A dim-witted, cowardly, greasy-pole body like the LP is hopeless. Watch Leeds United and rejoice in the courage and vision of the women. That's socialism. The LP hates it.


The bit about the manipulative communist agitator was why the BBC was happy to broadcast it.


Keep up the good work. Thoroughly enjoyed the interview with Wiliamson. If only there were more politicians like him with a conscience and a humanity.
Can you please tell me the name and singer of the song that was played in the epsiode? Thank you.

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Sorry about that! It’s “Sa’alouni al-Nass” by Fairuz. We added it to the podcast post notes as well.

Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).