JVL statement on Chris Williamson

A number of student Labour clubs in London have joined what appears be a coordinated campaign of boycott targeting a left Labour MP and a London constituency party.

Jewish Voice for Labour urges Labour-supporting students to resist attempts to enlist them in divisive and damaging attempts to harm leading supporters of party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Almost identical tweets from clubs at UCL, Birkbeck and LSE make the defamatory and unfounded allegation that Chris Williamson, MP for Derby North, is an antisemite. They state that they will not campaign on behalf of Cities of London and Westminster Constituency Labour Party until it withdraws and apologises for an invitation to Williamson.

An additional tweet from KCL turned out to have been posted without authorisation of the Labour Society which apologised and said it had no intention of boycotting the CLP.

Labour List has taken up and elaborated upon the attacks, saying that student societies were reacting to news that members of the CLP had been invited to a meeting featuring a presentation by Chris Williamson MP.

It said “Chris Williamson has been criticised by Jewish groups and activists for sharing platforms with expelled Labour members such as Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker.”

For the record, the expulsion of Tony Greenstein, a life-long Jewish anti-racist campaigner, was not on the grounds of antisemitism. Jackie Walker, a Black Jewish socialist, has not been expelled. She is fighting against her suspension which has been accompanied by more than two years of being publicly vilified, without any justification, as an antisemite.

Chris Williamson is one of shamefully few prominent Labour figures who have had the courage to stand out against a wave of malicious and dishonest attacks on the left. Charges of antisemitism have to be taken seriously and guilty individuals dealt with. Misusing such allegations to undermine political opponents works to the detriment of the struggle against rising far-right racism, of which the fight against antisemitism must be a part.

Jewish Voice for Labour urges students wanting to support the anti-racist movement backing Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist politics to embrace doughty fighters for equality and justice such as Chris Williamson. JVL welcomes debate with all shades of pro-Labour opinion on campus.