The Labour Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has reportedly barred Chris Williamson from standing for re-election as its candidate in the upcoming general election. And supporters of the pro-Jeremy Corbyn campaigner have responded to the decision with dismay.
No Labour endorsement for Williamson
The party first suspended Williamson in February, over comments he made about its handling of complaints about alleged antisemitism. The party readmitted the MP on 26 June after he submitted evidence to the National Executive Committee (NEC). Then followed a furious backlash from some Labour MPs, and the party removed the whip from him again on 28 June. Another suspension came on 3 September, over separate claims of misconduct.
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A July poll, however, found overwhelming support from party members and activists for Williamson’s reinstatement. And as The Canary reported, “over 100 members of the Jewish community, including Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, signed a letter of support for Williamson”, stressing:
Chris Williamson did not say that the party had been “too apologetic about antisemitism”, as has been widely misreported. He correctly stated that the Labour party has done more than any other party to combat the scourge of antisemitism and that, therefore, its stance should be less apologetic. Such attacks on Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters aim to undermine not only the Labour party’s leadership but also all pro-Palestinian members.
Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, has previously insisted:
Chris Williamson is a very good, very effective Labour MP. He’s a very strong anti-racist campaigner. He is not anti-Semitic in any way.
Williamson has been a consistently firm opponent of far-right extremism, destructive regime-change wars abroad, and secretive government-funded smears of the left. He has also campaigned vigorously for greater democracy within the Labour Party. For those reasons and more, many supporters expressed anger at Labour’s failure to endorse him for re-election:
For clarity: Chris Williamson remains suspended as a Labour Party member. He hasn't been expelled, and is likely to remain in limbo till long after the general election.
NEC has decided today to he cannot be a Labour candidate in this election. #ReinstateChrisWilliamson
— Asa Winstanley (@AsaWinstanley) November 6, 2019
— Linda Scott 🖐 (@lindas1954) November 6, 2019
Labour's NEC has dropped Chris Williamson as a candidate.
From investment advocacy, to foreign policy, to monetary theory, to corporate media manoeuvring, Williamson is one of Labour's greatest assets.
This decision isn't just immoral. It's idiotic.
— James Wright (@wrightismight) November 6, 2019
No one has written more pro-Corbyn/pro JC Labour pieces than me. Twice I voted for Corbyn in leadership elections. I now think it was a waste of time. Because if Chris Williamson, Corbyn’s most loyal supporter can be thrown under the bus, who is safe? Corbyn will be next. https://t.co/7R4mkwbpMc
— Neil Clark (@NeilClark66) November 6, 2019
Everyone on NEC has to take responsibility since decisions are all made behind closed doors, we get no feedback as to who it is that is doing the dirty on Chris Williamson & when there is supposed to be transparency – that's NOT acceptable. @jeremycorbyn
— Christina (@55krissi55) November 6, 2019
Chris Williamson has been kicked out because he spoke out against the undeniable weaponisation of anti-semitism, & because he’s been vocal in support for Assange, in showing solidarity with Venezuela, etc.
ie because he’s an anti-imperialist.
Horrific that you help enable this
— Vote For Peace & Justice 🕊 (@jamesforpeace) November 6, 2019
As I, Chris Williamson, and many others have said, nothing Corbyn or labour do will be enough. Nothing that is, other than getting rid of Corbyn, getting rid of socialist members, stopping our legitimate criticism of Israel and support for Palestinians.
— MinersLamp #VoteLabour (@LampMiners) November 6, 2019
Chris Williamson is one of just two Labour MPs who have explicitly spoken out in support of the YPG/YPJ and Rojava revolution since Corbyn became leader and less vocal on this kind of thing #ReinstateChrisWilliamson https://t.co/jGATAQQc1Y
— Rosa (@rosagilbert) November 6, 2019
🔴 Chris Williamson was the most dedicated supporter of Jeremy Corbyn.
🔴 He devoted every waking hour to putting Jeremy Corbyn into number 10.
🔴 Dame Hodge is going to be a Labour MP again. Williamson is not. pic.twitter.com/hWTnvX8H78
— Josef Kalf (@JosefKalf) November 6, 2019
Sickened by this news. This is unjust and shows extraordinarily poor judgement.
— Jolene#VoteLabour#IStandWithChrisWilliamson (@sojourner337) November 6, 2019
Despite the anger and disappointment, though, some reflected on Williamson’s previous words:
I will be focussing my energies, as we all should, on winning the next election. Because a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government could transform the lives of millions, by bringing about an irreversible shift in the balance of wealth power and income in our country.
Disappointing, but wholly unsurprising, news about Chris Williamson. Guess the pragmatic position, under the circs, is to push on and address this travesty later. At the same time, not exactly the tonic left activists needed to get out into those marginals and secure the win. 😞
— Joe Sucksmith (@JoeSucksmith) November 6, 2019
Disappointing news about Chris Williamson. Feels as though he's been thrown under the bus again.
However, I know without any doubt he'd urge us all to stay & fight.
So please no ripping up of membership cards, we have a GE to fight.#IStandWithChrisWilliamson.
— The hopper 🌹🌹 (@Thehopper7) November 6, 2019
In short, Williamson may not be a Labour candidate in this election. But he still has massive support from ordinary people and activists. And after this highly important election, the battle to clear his name will continue.
Featured image via Mohamed Elmaazi
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