Morning Star: Chris Williamson is right – now is the time for unity

JVL Introduction

A Morning Star editorial highlights the contradictory demands of those trying to get Chris Williamson re-suspended. Tom Watson et al’s letter both “attacks the disciplinary process for “the appearance of political interference” and then demands that leader Jeremy Corbyn politically interfere by overruling it.

It comments: “Corbyn’s enemies in the parliamentary party have made it clear repeatedly that they will not accept any process that does not give them victory.”

Chris Williamson is right – now is the time for unity

Morning Star editorial
27 June 2019

MOST socialists and Labour members will have welcomed the end of Chris Williamson’s suspension from the party, and his call for unity behind its transformational vision should inform our movement’s strategy in the months ahead.

The usual suspects have lined up behind deputy leader Tom Watson to condemn the disciplinary hearing’s decision. Their self-contradictory letter both attacks the disciplinary process for “the appearance of political interference” and then demands that leader Jeremy Corbyn politically interfere by overruling it.

This is not surprising. Corbyn’s enemies in the parliamentary party have made it clear repeatedly that they will not accept any process that does not give them victory.

Stephen Kinnock, one of the signatories to today’s disgraceful letter, previously called on Labour’s general secretary to ban constituency parties from expressing views on Williamson’s suspension because “political interference in political disputes [sic] is not allowed,” yet has no hesitation in politically interfering himself.

This is not intended as an endorsement of Labour’s disciplinary processes more generally. The fact that Williamson was suspended in the first place shows that innocent members of the party can be put through hell because of a pile-on by a mob of neoliberal bullies.

It is an experience familiar to many Labour members less prominent than the MP for Derby North.

Williamson’s remarks in Sheffield last year were essentially correct: Labour has done more than other parliamentary parties to fight anti-semitism.

The Conservative Party, with its links to far-right groups across Europe, has a far worse record of tolerating anti-semitism than Labour, and polls show anti-semitic attitudes in Labour have become less common since Jeremy Corbyn became party leader.

None of that makes the battle against anti-semitism in Labour unimportant — this pernicious and enduring form of racism does exist on the left, and where it does it must be dealt with.

But that cannot justify sloppiness over what constitutes anti-semitism and it certainly does not justify taking at face value accusations emanating from MPs and organisations fundamentally hostile to Corbyn’s socialist project.

Like Corbyn, Williamson has a decades-long association with the anti-racist and anti-fascist left and a demonstrable commitment to these causes which the MPs denouncing him have not shown.

His voice for peace and socialism in Parliament is needed because, as he told this newspaper today, the labour movement is actually in a position to radically change Britain for the better if we can overcome the Establishment forces ranged against us.

It is the only major party in Britain with serious plans to address climate change, to raise wages both by legislative action and by unshackling trade unions and enforcing the right to sectoral collective bargaining across the economy, to reduce yawning inequality by taxing the richest and delivering planned and sustainable regional development financed by publicly owned banks.

It would end the privatisation rip-off by taking water, energy and transport back into public hands. These policies will make a huge and rapid difference to millions of people currently living on the edge.

They are not — as another signatory to today’s letter, Margaret Hodge, patronisingly claims — a “bribe” to the electorate but form a realistic and achievable strategy for advancing socialism, equality and justice.

Realising this vision depends on discipline and solidarity across our movement. Some on the left see every political disagreement as an opportunity for virtue-signalling that too often takes the form of denouncing other socialists for perceived or imagined heresies.

This approach is unlikely to sweep Labour to power and emboldens those who are actively hostile to our project.

It also seriously underestimates the strength and ruthlessness of an Establishment determined to ensure we never have a socialist Britain and assists it in its effort to isolate Labour’s leader and break the movement he leads.

Comments (19)

  • Linda Brown says:

    Absolutely agree with this article. So tired of Tom Watson asserting that he speaks for all party members when we know he does not.

  • rose challands says:

    thank you for this article ……it is so good to see a properly informed response …..

  • Simon Dewsbury says:

    Exposes the contradictions, hypocrisy and simple lack of morality of those signing the disgraceful letter.
    I see that there is an ‘open letter’ circulating at present which states that accusing “jews of manufacturing allegations of antisemitism for political gain” is “an antisemitic trope in and of itself”. This manages to be both Orwellian and Kafkasesque at the same time. There’s a link on yesterday’s Labourlist email

  • Michael John Miller says:

    Spot on. The question of the suspension should be put to the members. Its time to call for an election of the deputy leader.

  • David Stretton says:

    I am speachless but Chris has been suspended again. The anti-Corbyn MPs have won yet again. The only way out of this mess is wholesale de-selection.

  • David Stretton says:

    The only way out of this mess is wholesale de-selection.

  • Sean O'Donoghue says:

    Not even a Tory would state what Hodge says…about Manifesto items being a bribe to the electorate.

    As for Watson, I see his CLP was cancelled this month because they had “no emergency business to discuss”..or some such. It appears they didn’t want to select new conference delegates…last years there will go by default…obviously Waton’s lapdogs.

  • Dr Brian Robinson says: Norman Finkelstein on the “antisemite” Corbyn claims. 3’21” extract from a larger documentary on RT. This was posted 23 May 2019.

    I’ve long feared what Finkelstein here warns about. I hope it’s not too late now to prevent such a terrifying outcome but it’s yet another reason to do everything to make sure that Labour wins the next GE, even for those of us deeply disillusioned about its position on Brexit. If British Jews were really wise and foresightful about this, we’d be pushing for a Labour victory, not as so many are doing, enabling the reverse.

  • Arthur Shaw says:

    Twatson, Hodge and their like speak for no Labour Party member or non member I know. The sooner their gone the better

  • Michael West says:

    Margaret Hodge et al are the Anti-Semites. We cannot have people who align themselves with the murder of children in Yemen and elsewhere in the Labour Party.

  • Margaret Spector says:

    Why, and this a serious question, does Tom Watson not get disciplined by going against Jeremy Corbyn over and over again. He openly stabs him in the back and yet JC does not get rid of him.

  • Si Denbigh says:

    Spot on. Absolutely disgusted with the brazen treachery and lies from the Usual Suspects, and noticed a few other new suspects have finally been emboldened to stick their heads up and show their true colours… Good. We won’t Forget or forgive.

  • geoff rouse says:

    I truly believe that the grass roots members of our party should seriously consider campaigning in Tom Watson’s constituency to have him replaced by a real socialist MP.

  • Keith Nicholls says:

    If there was an election tomorrow and the ideas of people like your organisation where promoted, 99.5% of the electorate would not support you. I have voted labour for nearly 50 years and wife and daughters also support labour. However bwith people like you spinning your outdated views, Corbyn and co will not get our votes along with many other people.

  • Alfreda Benge says:

    Chris points out a true fact, that the emperor is naked,
    and 100 bullying MPs want him to lose his job.
    What horrible people to have to work alongside.
    This behaviour makes any claims by Labour to
    tackle injustice in the world seem pretty unconvincing.
    And the cowardice of those who know he’s innocent
    but fail to support him, makes the claims laughable.

  • Jennifer Joy-Matthews says:

    Thank you , so much for writing this. I am so fed up of a few malcontents stirring up trouble in the Labour Party. Chris Williamson is a good man and does not deserve to be bullied and harassed by these dreadful people.

  • Ann Lewis says:

    When I consider what Chris Williamson actually said,the assertion that has apparently caused this furore, I am totally bemused. I am quite unable to see in what way his comment can be said to be anti-semitic.Are people kidding themselves or are some reactions entirely cynical? OR am I just stupid?

  • Elaine says:

    Suspend hodge and watson. They are bringing the LP into disrepute. They were elected to fight for their constituents but they only bother about themselfs and ripping the LP apart.

  • Elijah Traven says:

    Chris Williamson should be reinstated immediately. The reason why he has been resuspended is because he is on the left of the party and this sticks in the throat of blairites and other malcontents.

Comments are now closed.