Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/28783
Chris Williamson suspension:
No more succumbing to the Blairite saboteurs!
Tory prime minister Teresa May demanded in parliament that Labour take action against Derby North left-wing Labour MP Chris Williamson, and just hours later, Labour's leadership shamefully obliged.
Williamson's 'crime' was a speech to a Momentum meeting in Sheffield in which he said, regarding accusations of antisemitism, "our party's response has been partly responsible ... because, in my opinion, we've backed off far too much, we've given too much ground, we've been too apologetic."
His words - which received loud applause - were nothing but true, but were seized on by the Blairite Labour right to launch a massive campaign of pressure for Williamson's suspension.
Condemnation was piled on, using the slander of antisemitism, from the likes of Labour deputy leader Tom Watson and right-wing GMB union leader Tim Roache.
They have been backed up by recent splitter-from-Labour Luciana Berger, who has been told by Tory Health Secretary Matt Hancock that "she'd be very welcome to stand as a Conservative" instead.
Their onslaught on Williamson is the latest step in their drive to isolate Corbyn or even remove him from his leadership position.
Williamson is a supporter of Corbyn's policies and calls for the return of mandatory reselection of parliamentary candidates, so that the candidates reflect the views of party members. He has been touring the country in a 'Democracy Roadshow' to call for the right of party members to "shape the direction of the party".
On the issue of antisemitism it's not just his own words that have enraged the right, but also his support for other party members who have been wrongly accused of antisemitism.
As even a cross-party parliamentary committee pointed out, there has not been any evidence of a higher level of antisemitism in the Labour Party than in other political parties.
Outrageously, Watson told the radio 4 Today programme (28.2.19) when trying to justify the suspension of Williamson, that Berger is "a pregnant young MP bullied out of her own party by racist thugs".
In reality the pressure on Berger was over two 'no confidence' motions which members of her Wavertree constituency Labour Party had planned to move against her, because they objected to her "continually criticising our leader [Corbyn] when she should be working for a general election and opposing the Tories".
The executive committee of Wavertree Labour Party had to put out a statement refuting antisemitism in response to Watson's slurs, which included:
"We as an executive have always and continue now to express total solidarity with Luciana as a victim of misogyny and of anti-Semitism - coming mostly from the far right. Our chair is himself Jewish and the suggestion that the CLP Executive is in any way a party to bullying and anti-Semitism is a false and slanderous accusation."
Court convictions have come about as a result of antisemitic attacks on Berger, but they have been of neo-nazis, not members of Labour.
This latest succumbing - Williamson's suspension - by the Labour leadership to pressure from the right, won't stop the unrelenting attacks and use of false accusations of antisemitism as a battering ram.
Even the likes of supposed 'lefts' like Owen Jones and Ash Sarker have jumped on the right's bandwagon, saying that Williamson's suspension is 'correct'.
Williamson it seems will have very few 'left' figureheads or Corbyn-supporting MPs to turn to for support. The pro-capitalist wing of Labour remains dominant, and in this case of his suspension, much of Labour's left is in effect tail ending it.
Williamson needs to campaign among, and base himself on, the hundreds of thousands of Labour members - and trade unionists and other socialists - who want to see Corbyn's policies being delivered.
He also needs to back, and could help spearhead, the Socialist Party's call for the convening of a labour movement conference to draw together all socialist fighters, trade unionists and anti-cuts activists to discuss and debate how Labour could be changed into a 100% anti-austerity party.
Corbyn and McDonnell must urgently stop backing off from the right's attacks, and instead go on a counter-offensive. The target of the right is to undermine Corbyn's anti-austerity programme and to try to prevent him from getting into a position - as prime minister - where he can be pushed to go further in the interests of the working class.
Corbyn, McDonnell and the left trade union leaders must stand firmly against the Blairite saboteurs and turn immediately to the urgent business of calling a mass demonstration and action to bring down the Tory government and achieve a general election.
Some of the previous Socialist Party articles on Labour and antisemitism:
- Socialism Today editorial, September 2018: Vultures circle but the Corbyn insurgency can still be saved
- Antisemitism - what it is and how to fight it, an article in Socialism Today, October 2018
- Antisemitism smears against Corbyn are battering ram of the right
- Livingstone, Labour and anti-semitism
- Livingstone suspension - slow coup against Corbyn