Chris Williamson runs for Parliament as independent

Chris Williamson announced his run by posting a letter to social media. (Chris Williamson/Twitter)

A high-profile target of Labour’s “anti-Semitism crisis” witch hunt on Wednesday quit the party, announcing an independent run for the UK’s Parliament.

Left-winger Chris Williamson, the current MP for Derby North in the Midlands, told The Electronic Intifada that he would stand in next month’s election as an independent socialist candidate.

“I have hundreds of activists from around the country ready and waiting to campaign for me in Derby,” Williamson said.

Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee decided earlier on Wednesday that Williamson, who was suspended pending investigation earlier this year, would not be allowed to stand as a Labour candidate in the 12 December general election.

Williamson said he had decided to quit rather than be expelled from the party for standing against a Labour candidate – which carries a potential five-year ban.

For the past two years, Williamson has been one of the primary targets of Labour’s internal Israel lobby. He has been the only MP to openly criticize the manufactured anti-Semitism crisis as “smears.”

The national executive’s decision flies in the face of a judge’s ruling last month. The High Court found that the party’s “re-suspension” of Williamson in June had been illegal.

However, Labour suspended him yet again on similar trumped-up charges in September, only the week before his court hearing. The judge did not overturn this subsequent suspension.

In a letter to Wiliamson on Wednesday, the party’s legal unit said he was “ineligible to represent the Labour Party and stand as a candidate” due to the suspension.

In a letter to Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby on Wednesday, Williamson responded by quitting the party, saying he believed that party officials had enabled the witch hunt, and that the legal and governance unit should be dismantled.

Williamson was first suspended in February, days after booking a room in Parliament to screen the documentary, WitchHunt.

Endorsed by acclaimed British filmmakers including Mike Leigh, Peter Kosminsky and Ken Loach, the film tells a persuasive story about Israel’s alliance with the global far right, and the media war against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

You can still view it for free online.

The parliamentary constituency of Derby North is a marginal seat, with only about 2,000 votes separating Williamson and the Conservative candidate in 2017’s general election.

Campaigning for a non-Labour candidate is against Labour Party rules, so Williamson’s supporters face potential disciplinary action.

“Chris has got lots of supporters who are willing to be expelled, or who are not in the Labour Party anyway,” said a source close to Williamson.

Although a surge of optimism when Jeremy Corbyn was first elected leader in 2015 led to a massive increase in party membership, suspensions and expulsions as part of the witch hunt have put a damper on enthusiasm.

In July, membership dipped below half a million, down from a peak of 564,000 at the end of 2017.

Update, 12 November

Williamson has now officially registered his independent campaign for Parliament. In the Morning Star this past weekend, he wrote explaining his decision to run. “Contrary to Jeremy’s wishes, if Labour wins this election, it would aim to be socialist in words and deeds at home but imperialist in words and deeds abroad,”he wrote.

Meanwhile, Williamson’s replacement as the official Labour candidate for Derby North has been endorsed by the hard-right Labour First faction.

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Comments

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Labour suspended Chris Williamson for daring to tell the truth, the smearing of Labour members by the friends of Israel is shameful and should not be tolerated.

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Good decision. I have no doubt that a committed long term Labour member like Williamson would only take this path to fight a real problem within the Party. This is not a case of sour grapes due to thrawted personal ambition. Given that the seat is marginal, Wiliamson could well split the vote and allow a Conservative win, but this is a fight for good internal governance and thus justified.

I hope those within the Labour Party who do not support Corbyn's leftist policies finally give up on using false charges of antisemitism to cobble Corbyn. The Israeli lobby could only do its mischief with their willing and unprincipled co-operation. They should just get back and do the hard yards of arguing their case. Taking the shortcut of the antisemitic smear is not the best way to influence Labour policy. It both brings the Party into disrepute and weakens its electoral chances.

Saying that, l hope Williamson and Corbyn can pull it off and come out victors.

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I felt physically sick yesterday when I heard that the NEC had not endorsed Chris. I felt that way regarding every member who is not an antisemite who has been hounded out of the party. But Chris's decision in court that the party were wrong to make the first decision and that the court could not rule on the second accusations as the party had not ruled on it meant the NEC would stop playing dynamite ping pong with him. But now here we are again. The truth is they should have made the decision as the court said on the follow-up charges before taking any other action. regarding his rights in the party but they have not done this. But no they let it stew and along comes the GE and Chris quite rightly want to stand in his own CLP and they want him to stand there. The NEC is behaving now almost as badly as the one that came with Jeremy's first election as leader and we still have people in our party who think saying the killing of a child and their family watching TV is necessary and just if you are the State of Israel yet when it is any other country they will condemn that government. There was certainly more to Chris's case than we are being told now and if the truth came out it would be a game-changer. I honestly think if Chris were to defeat Labour as an independent the NEC would be able to see the wrong in their decision,
you know the one where the court said the NCC had been wrong in the first place

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To see Watson, a snake of the first order, who has constantly back stabbed Corbyn being praised by him, while Chris Williamson who has worked tirelessly to support Corbyn is abandoned, makes one wonder if Corbyn has any sense of loyalty and solidarity whatsoever?

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I see the Labour Right are now suggesting that Chris Williamson's decision to stand endangers Labour's prospects in the seat. Well the answer is very clear. Don't stand and let Chris win the seat again!

I shall be happy to go to Derby and lend a hand as will many others

tony

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Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He lives in London. Biography here.