JVL deplores the suspension of Chris Williamson

Chris Williamson

We are shocked at the suspension from the Labour Party of Derby North MP Chris Williamson, despite his apology.

As a Jewish organisation we condemn antisemitism unreservedly. And, of course, we support robust measures to deal with any instances.

Like Chris Williamson we stand in a long tradition of opposition to all forms of racism, including antisemitism. We support the statement in which he apologised to anyone hurt by his words.   But we agree with him that the number of instances of antisemitism in the Labour Party, though small relative to its size, is still too high. Any antisemite in the Party is one too many.

Williamson based his statement on the official statistics published by the General Secretary of the Party, Jennie Formby. They confirm that over the last 10 months complaints received led to 453 cases being investigated for antisemitism. This represents 1/12th of 1% of the membership. There is no wave of antisemitism in the Party.

The existence of antisemitism in the Party, as everywhere in society, is not in doubt. It needs to be contested, and the Party’s beefed up disciplinary processes are doing just that. But these figures, and the experience of the hundreds of our Jewish members in the Labour Party, give the lie to the false narrative that the Party is rife with antisemitism. Such a description bears no resemblance to reality.

The flood of exaggerated claims of antisemitism make it harder to deal with any real instances of antisemitism. The credibility of well-founded allegations is undermined by the less credible ones and real perpetrators are more likely not to be held to account. Crying wolf is dangerous when there are real wolves around the corner.

This was the reality that Chris Williamson was drawing attention to. His suspension from the party is unjust and should be rescinded.

Comments (45)

  • Jean Watson says:

    Thank you JVL, The suspension of Chris Williamson is unjust and he should be reinstated immediately.

  • Mariatu Conteh says:

    The Labour Party should call off this suspension because the manner it’s was done is wrong for the PLP to suspend Christ Williamson. They are not the NEC is so disgraceful to hear the discraseful prime standing in the house of corruption and forget about how distrust the Britain already not talking about that. Instead joined forces with tom Watson and the 9 ex Labour MPs distrusting the party. And we should call for open selection and get tom Watson out of the Labour.

  • Matt Mitchell says:

    This is destroying the party.

  • Brian Riches says:

    You are absolutely correct. The harassment of Chris Williamson and others is nothing short of a witchhunt.When I read the words he said, I couldn’t believe how mild & reasonable they were, in view of what I had been led to expect.There is definitely an organised conspiracy underway, led by the far right in the party in an attempt to undermine & overthrow Chris. They must be resisted! No more giving way. Corbyn must be implored to stand firm and take no further back!

  • brian morley says:

    I despair at the lack of political integrity amongst so many of the PLP. The vindictive behaviour of so many against Corbyn and others of a similar political perspective shows at best a lack of political courage. Those who can, please stand up and speak out to save those brave socialists who need to know that there is a real hope for the future. Only the cowards sneer!

  • Richard Snell says:

    I agree with this assessment, and I find it really hard to stomach that there is so little being done by the Party to limit the activities of the Israeli supporters within the Party who are bent destroying the reputations of Israel’s critics by using what is essentially a slander, that their criticisms of Israel and Zionism are somehow proof of their anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, The MPs and the PLP’s leadership who are opposed to him are not setting the proper limits because it does not serve their own poilitical purposes to do so.

  • Tamara Nikiforova says:

    What a relief, after reading this! My impression of all I have heard from Williamson, is that he is a genuine, passionate socialist, a real treasure for the Party.
    I had an experience of my Jewish brother in law subjected to abuse by thugs. The present accusations seem highly exagerated and orchestrated for a purpose.

  • Richard Winter says:

    A very welcome call out of what is becoming a hysterical and very carefully crafted plan to ‘shame-out’ the acceptability of socialist or Palestinian-sympathetic voices, simply by making assertions of anti-Semitic attitudes or intent. It is a cowardly case of playing with fire when only those targeted get burnt because the accusers are seen as untouchable. I support JVL’s bravery and will apply to join as a non-Jewish associate.

  • Carole Wilson says:

    Thank you for this. Absolutely agree.

  • Susan Dellet says:

    Commonsense finally thank you

  • Kay Jenkinson says:

    Couldn’t agree more. The rise of anti-Semitism throughout Europe is very worrying but suspending people like Chris Williamson and the attacking the LP is counter-productive in tackling it.

  • Sarah Streatfeild says:

    Thank you JVL for all you do. Solidarity. #IStandWithChrisWilliamson

  • John Dunn says:

    Thank you Jewish Voice for Labour for this post and your wise words. We need your voice more than ever now. I listened attentively to Jenny Mason on Radio 4 late yesterday afternoon and it was a shame that there were technical problems and I hope Radio 4 will invite Jenny into the studio to talk about this matter. Yours in support and solidarity.

  • Laura Jones says:

    Thank you for your support of Chris Williamson. Like you I have been concerned for a long time this overplaying of anti semitism could rebound and mean that genuine cases of abuse could be lost amongst the noise. People who have been genuinely abused will be left disbelieved and unsupported, what a sad mess this has created.

  • Mr. Guy Mitchell says:

    I completely agree

  • Jeffrey Harris says:

    I find all this very concerning .It seems an attempt is being made to isolate Jeremy Corbyn by stripping away his most loyal mps and force him to resign .If this continues Labour will be fit for nothing.

  • Graham mills says:

    Reinstate Chris Williamson

  • Jacqueline Sexton says:

    Scape goat, not a fair assessment.

  • Maggie says:

    I feel so disheartened by this injustice . Thank you for your principled support for Chris Williamson

  • hilary klonin says:


  • Alan Deadman says:

    I was at the meeting where Chris made his comments and fully support his claim that the LP has backed off too much as it dealt with charges of anti-semitism.

  • Meg Howarth says:

    ‘I do think we have a major problem and it always seems to me that we underestimate the scale of it.

    ‘I think it is a widespread problem. It’s now obvious we have a much larger number of people with hardcore antisemitic opinions which, unfortunately, is polluting the atmosphere in a lot of constituency parties and, in particular, online’ – Jon Lansman, Momentum


  • Michael Gomulka says:

    So your response to antisemitism is to claim a conspiracy funded by Israel and its supporters? If only they could understand the irony eh?

    • Mike Cushman says:

      If you could point us to any mention of ‘conspiracy’ in our statement we would be grateful

  • Will McAllister says:

    I hope I’m OK to leave a comment here. I’ve been trying to get a handle on the whole anti-semitism issue for a while now. There aren’t many places that seem open for reasoned discussion.

    I guess I feel part of the problem is that anti-semitism is so embedded in Western culture that it can be weaponised by those wishing to justify almost any course of action. It’s almost as old as European civilisation itself (certainly it predates Christianity). Whether we’re talking about Pontius Pilate’s washing of his hands or about Shylock’s determination to get his pound of flesh. It sits under the radar for decades at a time in a scab that might look to have healed over before erupting in a pustule of hatred whenever someone decides to pick at it. If you dig deep enough into any aspect of Western culture, be it Shakespeare or Christianity, you can find anti-semitism and bring it back to the surface again.

    Some of the anti-semitic cliches are ripe for weaponising. The cliche of the ‘self-hating Jew’, in itself a derogratory cliche based on a person’s ethnicity used to attack anyone of anti-semitism even if that person is themselves Jewish. The long-running association between anti-semitism and anti-elitism based on the idea of Jews as wealthy parasites that allowed fascists in the 1930s to dress racists up as champions of the common-man; while paradoxically, targeting the left with accusations of ‘Judaeo-bolshevism’. Then comes the notion that Jews, no matter where they were born, where they were brought up and what their first language us are loyal to their religion over and above their home country, Stalin’s ‘rootless cosmopolitans’, the tale of the wandering Jew.

    Before the Daily Mail became the shining beacon in the fight against anti-semitism it is today it was playing on these last two cliches when claiming that Ralph Miliband was ‘the man who hated Britain’. He was Jewish so he clearly had to answer to claims of being a disloyal Judeao-bolshevik.

    Well that’s an example anyway of how plasticine the concept of anti-semitism can be, really it should just be seen in the same light as every other form of racism but there are so many different ways to express anti-semitism when compared to racism directed against other groups, because of Europe’s rich heritage of ostracising Jews, it’s not always easy to tell the difference between real anti-semitism and fake anti-anti-semitic outrage.

  • Williamson should be reinstated immediately.and Tom Watson should be questioned.

  • Simon Cohen says:

    What worries me is this might be a sign that the Labour party has decided to ‘dance’ to the media narrative which is a big mistake.

    We need to challenge the media in their cynically manipulative ‘ weaponistaion’ of the issue and try to educate the public about what is going on from the inception of the argument around ‘that mural’ to the present events.

  • Terence McGinity says:

    Isn’t it interesting that it is the LP under Jeremy Corbyn that is being so vilified. Where is the Media or indeed the voices of some of our own PLP when it comes to Tory support for Far Right Governments who openly espouse Racism? When Netanyahu invites Victor Orban to Israel is it anti-Semitic to point out that Orban has made vicious anti-Semitic statements and is still welcomed with a handshake? Is it anti-Semitic to mourn the deaths of so many Palestinians including children?
    And of course, we mourn the murders of six million Jews under the Nazi’s. And we mourn the murder of millions of Africans captured into slavery of which this country played such a large part.
    And so much more down the annals of history.
    But we have a long tradition in the LP of fighting for the Oppressed whether in Cable Street or against the Francoists in Spain. Against Apartheid in South Africa when Thatcher (and much of the Right Wing media) accused Mandela of terrorism.
    I firmly believe that the LP under Jeremy Corbyn’s Leadership with the support of thousands of LP Members and many thousands more who will vote it into Government will make a decisive break with our Imperial past (including the invasions into Iraq and Libya). Emily Thornbury clearly stated that Human Rights would be at the forefront of our dealings with other countries. No more Arm Sales to the likes of Saudi Arabia!
    But! We must work towards the immediate reinstatement of Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker and many other LP Members wrongly accused of antisemitism. Just as there is no place in the LP for Racism of any kind there must also be no place for witch-hunts with the effect of stifling through fear free speech in the defense of the Oppressed.
    Through our Branches and CLP meetings we need to send a clear message through Motions that we will not be cowed by the Media or those opposed to the Socialism and humanity of what Jeremy Corbyn stands for.
    Terence McGinity

  • TONY ERIZIA says:

    Well in a sense that was what Chris Williamson was suggesting, and I agree with him. Ultimately, the tsunami of a/s allegations will lead to a “cry wolf” response from the public – that is if it hasn’t already.

  • Stephen Houston says:

    Anti-Semitism is the biggest squirrel to have been foisted upon the labour party Ever!!

    It’s being used as a battering ram to undermine the Labour Party with the support or senior members of the party

  • Daphne Parkin says:

    Why is it that a response like this rarely appears in the mainstream news? A rhetorical question. We know why. Chris Williamson’s suspension has to be the most disgraceful yet. He commented on antisemitism, that’s not the same as making antisemitic comments. What in the world is happening? Would it be possible for all the Corbyn-supporting MP’s and we half a million LP members and Momentum to form a different party! Now that would be a split I would be happy to move with.

  • Meg Howarth says:

    ”Whether Jon Lansman is driven by personal ambition, a residual commitment to his childhood Zionism and a totally mistaken concept of how to defend Jeremy is between him and his therapist and not for me to comment on – it is a mystery to me.’

    Shame on you.

  • Linda walker says:

    Kudos JVL. Chris Williamson is one of the good guys. His comments have been blown out of all proportion. This witch hunt totally justifies chris’s Stance on mandatory reselection.

  • Terence McGinity says:

    We can never overestimate the long term traumatic effects of genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. How do humans recover from such violence and cruelty? How do the millions of Africans captured into Slavery deal with the Legacy today? How do the rest of us help?
    And for Jewish people there is a more recent legacy of humiliation, cruelty and fear. There are survivors and there are those who lost family. The fear and need for security and safety is very pressing. The fear can be ignited so easily.
    How cruel, therefore, it is to play on these fears. How cruel and dangerous it is use claims of antisemitism as a political attack weapon.
    It is also dangerous not to stand up to these attacks. I may apologise for poorly expressed ideas. I am willing to get better at that. But I make no apology to those who are out to destroy a humane and socialist orientated movement led by Jeremy Corbyn.
    Let’s be clear. To criticise the cruel Apartheid system operating against Palestinians and Israeli Arabs is not anti-Semitic. Jewish people are not responsible for this cruelty. It is the Israeli Government and IDF that shot so many Palestinians in recent times. It is the Nation State Law that compounds Apartheid. It is the Occupation and Settlement of the West Bank and the imprisonment and bombardment of Gaza that the World abhors and indeed, as the very recent UN Human Rights Enquiry has found, deems as Crimes Against Humanity.
    Stand firm Labour Party. Hold onto our principles.

  • Terence Hannah says:

    The Labour party needs to get rid of Tom Watson who is a decisive influence and a Blairite who we do not need! I did not vote Labour only to have traitors in the party! Why doesn’t he just go and join the Tories? because that is what he is! Also, we must get rid of Yvette Cooper who is just the same kind of traitorous person as Herr Watson!

  • Terence McGinity says:

    Oh, dear!

  • Mark Campey says:

    Well done JVL. I always knew that Tom Watson was going to be a snake in the grass when he got elected as deputy leader. He appears to have aspire to become leader and is happy to use the AS paradigm to inject his poison via his over exposure on the MSM in order to achieve his ambition. Would it be appropriate to campaign for an inquiry into the machinations of the LFI with regards to an obvious conflict of interest between its members and the Labour Party constitution?

  • Terence McGinity says:

    Please let us not use language like “Herr Watson”. This is precisely what they want and we play into their hands.
    Of course, anger comes up, And isn’t it the trouble with Online commenting that we might say things we never would at our Meetings and in Public Forums? I think we need to take care without losing the grasp of our arguments and principles.

  • ian Lawson says:

    As a newly joined solidarity member, can I ask if it is ok to share jvl articles to 1 My LabourCLP facebook page (closed group) and/or 2 Labour Party forum & other open groups. New here , do not want to break any protocols. The above article I like very much having been to several of Chris Williamsons meetings and i find no fault and considerable inspiration from his position.

    • Mike Cushman says:

      We actively encourage people to share our articles for non-commercial purposes.

  • Mike Cohen says:

    Theresa May joined Tom Watson in denouncing Chris Williamson: proof, if proof were needed, how little all this has to do with any concern about antisemitism.

  • Terence McGinity says:

    This morning on the Today programme John Humphries interviewed Siobhan McDonagh, Labour MP for Mitcham. Talking about bringing the Party into Disrepute!
    She lied. She said that Chris Williamson had made “a Statement on being too sympathetic on anti-semitism” (whatever that is meant to mean).
    I have emailed LP Complaints demanding that she retract and apologise or be suspended.
    I am very worried that this vile behaviour by members of the PLP is opening the door to physical attacks on Jeremy Corbyn. Tom Watson et al are guilty of stirring up hatred towards proven anti-racists. They take their lessons from the lies of Blair that has caused untold numbers of deaths and displaced persons.
    God, it’s difficult to stomach this kind of politics!

    • Mike Cushman says:

      It even worse than that:

      McDonagh seems to be suggesting that all or many Labour Party members believe that banks are controlled by Jews, classic Protocols of the Elders of Zion territory. She draws the conclusion that, therefore, Labour’s critique of the financial casino activities that almost crashed the world economy is motivated by antisemitism.

      She attacks conspiracy theorists by launching a bizarre conspiracy of her own.

      She owes the tens and hundreds of thousands of Party members who are campaigning for effective oversight of the banks a speedy and humble apology.
      Fighting for a fairer society and against inequality and austerity is not a symptom of antisemitism. McDonagh cannot be allowed to silence criticism of capitalism within a socialist party.

  • Akhtar Khan says:

    Totally support CW and jewish voice for labour .Both tell it as it is. Thankyou

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