Labour grassroots want Chris Williamson back — poll

Chris Williamson (UK Parliament)

Labour’s grassroots overwhelmingly want left-wing MP Chris Williamson back in the party, a new poll found on Tuesday.

A key supporter of left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn, Williamson is one of the most high-profile victims of the Labour Party’s witch hunt against the left and the Palestine solidarity movement.

A decision by a disciplinary panel last week to readmit Williamson was overturned within two days.

Party news website LabourList ran a poll asking whether Williamson should be readmitted to the party – 61 percent responded yes. Just 31 percent said no.

The results are significant, both because LabourList is not associated with the left of the party, and because of the number of participants – more than 10,000 readers voted.

The reversal of Williamson’s readmission came after massive pressure from more than 100 other Labour MPs, mostly from the right, and from Jon Lansman – a member of Labour’s ruling national executive.

Lansman reacted with rage on Thursday, after Williamson’s initial readmission, claiming the MP had not showed “one iota of contrition nor any acknowledgement of wrongdoing,” demanding that “he has to go!”

The MPs were organized by right-wing deputy party leader Tom Watson, who has been hostile to Corbyn’s popular movement for years.

Watson’s office is bankrolled by David Garrard, a major funder of Israeli embassy front group, Labour Friends of Israel.

Soon after these interventions, Labour sources announced on Friday that the panel’s decision to reinstate Williamson would be referred back to Labour’s ruling national executive for further investigation.

Jennie Formby, the party’s general secretary, said that this means Williamson would not be restored as a Labour MP, “as the decision is still pending.”

Because he was elected by voters during 2017’s general election, Williamson remains a member of Parliament – but not a Labour MP. As a suspended member, he is barred by party rules from holding elected office within the party.

But there is confusion about the process.

One press report on Monday stated that Williamson would be “protected” from being replaced with an alternative Labour candidate, due to the ongoing investigation.

Under fire

Williamson has come under fire from the Labour Party right for two main reasons.

He has led a campaign for greater internal party democracy, calling for all MPs to face a compulsory vote of members – effectively introducing a system of primaries – rather than being appointed as candidate for MP by party leaders.

This made him something of a hate figure for the mostly right-wing Parliamentary Labour Party, as anti-Corbyn MPs know they have made themselves unpopular with the membership.

Williamson has also been the only MP to publicly challenge the fabricated “Labour anti-Semitism crisis” narrative that has caused massive problems for the party over the last four years.

This “crisis” has caused an unprecedented witch hunt, with members supportive of the Palestinian struggle and on the left of the party being suspended and expelled on usually spurious grounds.

Left-wing Labour groups have responded with outrage to Williamson’s re-suspension.

Labour Against the Witchhunt on Friday condemned it as “a travesty of justice,” calling the statement by the more than 100 MPs attacking Williamson “deeply undemocratic and hysterical.”

Jewish Voice for Labour said it was “appalled” at the reversal, calling it a “violation of the natural justice that members have a right to expect in the party’s disciplinary procedures.”

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Every one of the signatories to the letter of protest over Mr Williamson's reinstatement should be asked for their response to this:

"The Jew is a hideous distortion of the human character, something unspeakably low and repulsive...We'll breathe more easily, having got rid once and for all of these people who, with furtive shame, we were obliged to treat as our fellow tribesmen..."

It was written by Theodore Herzl, the father of Zionism. It is vile Jew-hatred, which is typical of Zionism. Jews who do not support the Zionist project have been reviled, abused, attacked and murdered by Zionists. All the signatories should be asked to condemn not only the statement above, but the long catalogue of abuse and violence from the Zionists. If they are truly motivated by concern over anti-Jewish sentiment and action, they should have no difficulty.

One of the signatories is Mrs Ellman. On 28th November 2011, in the House of Commons, she described Zionism as "the national movement of the Jewish people for a homeland in the State of Israel." Clearly, she supports Zionism. Does she support its Jew-hating abuse? Does she endorse the quotation above? Does she excuse Zionist violence against Jews? Or does she excuse loathsome and violent abuse of Jews when it comes from those who support the Zionist project? The Jew-hating of Zionism has no place in the Labour Party. No Labour Party member who supports it should be excused. There must be consistent and absolute opposition to demeaning prejudice in all its forms. Write to your Labour MP. Send the above quote. Ask for them to condemn it without reservation.

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Reinstate Chris and throw out all the Zionist Fiends against Labour and all those who have taken the shekels . Everyone knows what their agenda is now.The time has now come to stop appeasing the Zionists and look after our Jewish members who do not condone the way that the government of Israel treats Palestinian children and women.The backlash from their false claims of anti Semitism has probably caused more animosity towards Jews than existed before their insidious campaign to undermine our twice elected leader

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Too many Labour MP's demonstrate little or no commitment to the Party being a Democratic Socialist Party rather than a Tory-Lite Neoliberal one. The clear majority of members are behind the Party's new direction under Jeremy Corbyn and are constantly let down by a rump of Blairite MP's who seem to have more in common with MP's in other parties and fail to adequately represent Labour Party values. We do need many new MP's and many current MP's are of little benefit to the party as a whole!

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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.