Resolutions, statements and quotes in support of Chris Williamson MP

Like and share this post:

So far, at least 28 CLPs, 9 Momentum branches and dozens of trade union bodies and left Labour organisations have come out in solidarity with Chris Williamson MP (we know of couple of other CLPs where it was decided not to publish the successful resolution). Each CLP has an average of 800 members, so you can calculate for yourself how that compares with the very few MPs who have demanded Chris’ scalp.

PLEASE  NOTE THERE IS NO BAN ON MOVING MOTIONS IN SUPPORT OF CHRIS: We hear that in a number of branches and CLPs, the chair has prevented the meeting from discussing motions in support of Chris because of apparent recent guidelines sent out by Labour HQ. We have produced detailed advice to show that this is not the case – click here for more info and details on  how to move a motion. Click here for a number of model motions.

Feel free to download, share and use our memes.

Table of Contents

Continue Reading “Resolutions, statements and quotes in support of Chris Williamson MP”

Bury Momentum letter to Jon Lansman: “Your unsubstantiated remarks can only give succour to Labour’s enemies”

Like and share this post:

Jon Lansman, Chair, Momentum
Cc Laura Parker, Momentum National Coordinator
Bcc National Coordinating Group

19 March 2019

Jon,

As officers of Bury Momentum we are writing to express our dismay and anger at your recent comments on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme of 25 February when you said Labour had “a major problem with anti-Semitism” and that it was “now obvious we have a much larger number of people with hardcore anti-Semitic opinions…” Such sweeping and unsubstantiated remarks – making no mention of the findings so far on this by Labour General Secretary Jennie Formby nor to the Party’s robust disciplinary process – can only give succour to the Labour Party’s enemies.

Bury Momentum discussed the latest developments in the attacks on Corbyn and the Partyat its recent meeting on Monday 11 March, including the suspension of Chris Williamson MP. Our members asked us to write to you and Momentum nationally expressing our unanimous support for Chris, our disappointment at Momentum’s failure to speak up for him and our feelings of let-down at your damaging comments to the media.

Part of Bury Momentum’s catchment area includes the second largest Jewish community in the country and in our two Bury CLPs your remarks are being used by our opponents to smear Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Left and Bury Momentum. It frankly beggars belief that the leader of Momentum can do such a disservice to its members’ campaigning efforts against austerity and our support for the Labour Manifesto, especially at such a critical time.

We call on you and National Momentum to defend Labour’s proud record as a democratic, anti-racist Party, stand in solidarity with Chris Williamson and other socialists who are being attacked, and apologise to Momentum members for demoralising and demobilising them by making unproven public statements. We expect your support.

There is NO BAN on moving motions in support of Chris Williamson MP!

Like and share this post:

We have been contacted by dozens of people in the last few days, so we have put together this detailed article to assure you that there is NO BAN on moving motions in support of Chris Williamson in your branch/CLP – despite what you might have read in the media or been told by a regional official. But you should go into your meeting well prepared. Please find detailed guidelines below.

Remember, Chris did not say anything anti-Semitic: He was suspended merely for questioning if the party had responded correctly to the charge of being institutionally anti-Semitic! If we allow this suspension to stand – or even turn into an expulsion – this will not only be a great injustice to Chris, but to all of us!

Chris has been the only MP who has stood up for all those who have been witch-hunted on false or exaggerated allegations of anti-Semitism or ‘bringing the party into disrepute’. With his immensely popular ‘Democracy Roadshow’ he brought hope to many members that the party could be radically and democratically transformed to act in the interests of the many, not the few. That is why he has become a target.

He has stood up for us – now let’s stand up for him!


Why it’s not a ban

1.) There is some dispute if this is actually newly distributed communication or if it has been taken from an old email that was then re-distributed by an overly eager London regional officer. This would certainly explain why nobody seems to have seen the actual email from Jennie Forby (instead, it’s always the same brief snippet) and why many CLPs and branches have not received this communication.

2.) But in any case, it’s certainly not an instruction – and it’s not a ban! This becomes even clearer from a recent email that an employee at Labour HQ sent in reply to a CLP member asking for advice on motion regards Chris: “Unfortunately this motion is not deemed competent business as it relates to an ongoing disciplinary matter. As you will appreciate for reasons both of confidentiality and law, we are unable to discuss individual disciplinary cases.”  All this email says is that ‘Labour HQ will not deal with your resolution.’ It clearly does not state that branches/CLPs are not allowed to discuss the motion. Quite clearly though, there is room for interpretation in the HQ’s stance on this issue, which reflects of course the struggles that are currently going on in the party.

3.) Also, once a case has been in the public domain as much as Chris’ has, it cannot in any way be considered as a “confidential” issue and is therefore clearly “competent business” for branches and CLPs to discuss.

4.) It is always up to the members of any meeting to decide what they want to discuss. All Labour Party meetings are entitled to discuss any issues they choose. Your resolution might not be “discussed by the NEC” (how many of them do?), but it will certainly be published on our website and elsewhere.

5.) Remember, every single statement and resolution will add to the pressure to get Chris reinstated. His case is absolutely crucial in the ongoing fight for the soul of the Labour Party. If he were to be expelled, that would be a massive defeat not just for Chris, but also the whole Corbyn project. It would be a huge victory for the right-wingers now so neatly assembled in Tom Watson’s ‘Future Britain’.

But if we can get Chris reinstated, this would give the left in the party a major boost – and it might help us in our fight to finally get natural justice and due process implemented in the party’s disciplinary process. And, of course, to get one of our few allies in the Parliamentary Labour Party back on board!


How to move a motion in support of Chris

Make sure to send us any resolutions and statements so that others can take courage and inspiration from them. We have collated all successful resolutions and statements here. Some model motions are available here.

1.) Ideally, submit as a ‘normal’ motion. They have to be submitted to the secretary of your Labour Party branch in writing 14 days before a meeting (unless it says something different in your local standing orders). Normal motions have to go through a branch first before they can be presented to the CLP – though please note that this is not the case with emergency motions.

2.) Emergency motions can be submitted anytime before the meeting of your branch or CLP (but as soon as feasible) – again, in writing to your secretary. The rule states that emergency business “may be accepted by the majority of the meeting on the recommendation of the Chair, who shall interpret the term ’emergency’ in a bona fide manner”. That means your chair has a lot of power and can “recommend” not to accept your motion. Please note that your chair cannot refuse to even table the motion (this is against the rules, though of course many try to do it nevertheless).

3.) If your chair rules against accepting the emergency motion (or refuses to put it on the agenda), you can try to overturn the decision:

  • Firstly, you will need to raise a point of order, which must be heard. Then you need to explain why in your view the matter is indeed an emergency (for example, “because it only just happened”). Do not yet talk about the context of the motion, only why it is an emergency. Get somebody to call “seconded” straight away. This challenge needs to be supported by “no less than four members” at the meeting. The “challenge shall be put to the meeting without discussion” by the chair. If anybody tries to intervene and speak against your challenge, remind them of the rules.
  • If 2/3 of eligible members at the meeting vote in favour of your challenge, the motion must be heard.
  • You can then move the motion to the meeting. If a simple majority votes in favour of the motion, it is passed and becomes the agreed resolution.

4.) Always bring enough copies of your emergency motion and hand them out before the meeting – that will make it very difficult for the chair to try and stop your motion from even being tabled. You should also try and get as many people as possible behind the motion beforethe meeting so that they are prepared to back you up. And print out the relevant bits from the rule book, just in case!

Reference for further info on these rules: model procedural rules (page 73) in the Labour Party rule book 2019

Feel free to get in touch if you need some more detailed advice. Good luck! And please keep us updated!

We condemn the suspension of Jo Bird and the appointment of Lord Falconer

Like and share this post:

UPDATE: Jo Bird’s suspension was lifted on March 15, though apparently she was given a ‘warning’ – for telling jokes!

Labour Against the Witchhunt unreservedly condemns the suspension from the Labour Party of Jewish councillor for Bromborough Jo Bird. At a Justice4Marc meeting last year in Manchester (in solidarity with Marc Wadsworth) she made a light-hearted comment, stating: “Jewish Voice For Labour is calling for disciplinary hearings to be paused until a due process has been established, based on principles of natural justice. What I call Jew process”.

Clearly, the context of that quote shows that her joke was not anti-Semitic at all – but the exact opposite.

Coming so soon after the suspension of Chris Williamson MP on equally baseless grounds, we are concerned that the small positive reforms of the disciplinary process introduced by general secretary Jennie Formby have been rolled back. We are seeing the return of automatic suspensions, even before an investigation has started. And again, they are used almost exclusively against left-wing supporters of Corbyn. Tom Watson, Margaret Hodge, Joan Ryan and Louise Ellman on the other hand get away with insulting and undermining Jeremy Corbyn and the party without any consequence. This is clearly not a fair process.

We are also greatly concerned with the plan to appoint Lord Falconer to “re-investigate” cases of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. As an ally of Tony Blair, a member of his war cabinet and the lawyer whose legal advice helped to break up the National Union of Mineworkers, we believe he is most certainly not the right man for the job. His interview in the Sunday Times shows that he is also far from impartial on this issue: “The most frightening thing is the profound and almost universal sense within the Jewish community that the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn are anti-Semitic. They feel they are not safe … because the potential prime minister and the main opposition party are anti-Semitic.”

This is nonsense. Firstly, there is no hegemonic “Jewish community”. There are pro-Zionist Jews and there anti- or non-Zionist Jews – those like Jo Bird, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein and the thousands organised in groups like Jewish Voice for Labour, Jewish Socialist Group etc. They certainly do not feel “unsafe” in the Labour Party. It is a story spun by the right-wing in the Labour Party, in cahoots with non-Labour organisations like the Board of Deputies and the Israeli embassy – who are united in their desire to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.

We believe these recent, bad decisions of the Labour leadership are the direct consequence of the formation of the so-called The Independent Group. Eager to stop any more right-wingers from splitting from the party, the leadership is bending over backwards once more. We are even hearing that the reformed trigger ballots are being put on hold to avoid any challenges to sitting MPs –despite the fact that this policy was agreed at Labour Party conference 2018.  But the last three and a half years show: Appeasement does not work. Every time the leadership takes a step back, the right makes two steps forward.

As Ken Loach, one of LAW’s sponsors said: “If it looks like a witch hunt and behaves like a witch hunt – it may well be just that. This is intolerable and must end now.”

Model Motions: Reinstate Chris Williamson MP!

Like and share this post:

THERE IS NO BAN! We hear that in a number of branches and CLPs, the chair has prevented the meeting from discussing motions in support of Chris, because of apparent recent advice by Labour HQ. We have produced detailed guidelines on this issue here.


Model motion 1

Don’t expel Chris Williamson MP from the Labour Party

This Meeting:
1. Notes the personal statement from Chris Williamson (February 27, published in full below).
2. Is opposed to all forms of anti-Semitism and racism.
3. Does not believe Chris Williamson MP should be expelled from the Labour Party.

APPENDIX/NOTE: Chris Williamson’s personal message.

The Labour Party is an anti-racist party. It is the only party that has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with religious and ethnic minorities in their decades-long fight against racism, discrimination and prejudice in the United Kingdom.

On a personal level, I have been an anti-racist all my life. As a former member of the Anti-Nazi League. I participated in direct action to confront foul anti-Semites in the streets. I reject racism ethically and morally. It has no place in the Labour Party or in our country.

It pains me greatly, therefore, that anyone should believe that it is my intention to minimise the cancerous and pernicious nature of anti-Semitism.

I deeply regret, and apologise for, my recent choice of words when speaking about how the Labour Party has responded to the ongoing fight against anti-Semitism inside of our party. I was trying to stress how much the party has done to tackle anti-Semitism.

Our movement can never be “too apologetic” about racism within our ranks. Whilst it is true that there have been very few cases of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party – something I believe is often forgotten when discussing this issue – it is also true that those few are too many.

It is precisely because of our party’s historic struggle against racism that we have taken it upon ourselves to strengthen our rules, to improve our disciplinary procedures and to redouble our efforts to take on anti-Semites. We have held ourselves to a higher standard than any other political party when it comes to anti-racism – and rightly so.

I am therefore sorry for how I chose to express myself on this issue within our party. This is a fight that I want to be an ally in.

In future, I will take it upon myself to be more considered in my remarks. and ensure they reflect the Labour Party’s unswerving and unfaltering commitment to anti-racism and the fight against anti-Semitism.


Model motion 2

This Constituency Labour Party notes with great concern the suspension of Chris Williamson MP for Derby North.

  • The allegation that Chris is downplaying anti-Semitism is totally unfounded. His comments, made at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield, were taken out of context in a deliberate attempt to ruin both the reputation of Chris Williamson MP and Jeremy Corbyn.
  • Chris Williamson MP actually said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”
  • His comments are clearly neither anti-Semitic, nor denying the existence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (as in wider society). But he does quite rightly point to the fact that there has also been a political campaign to “weaponise” accusations of anti-Semitism.
  • Chris is a target because he is one of the very few Labour MPs who have openly stood up to the witch-hunt of Corbyn supporters and because he has campaigned tirelessly for the much-needed democratisation of the party.
  • Despite the departure of Iain McNicol as general secretary, the witch-hunt of left-leaning party members continues. The main target of this campaign is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn himself. But thousands of Labour Party members have been investigated, suspended and expelled, often on spurious grounds. Like Chris Williamson, they are the collateral damage in this campaign to ‘get’ Corbyn.

This Constituency Labour Party therefore moves to:

  • Write to Jennie Formby, the general secretary, and the National Executive Committee with a copy of this motion and demanding that Chris is reinstated immediately. (jennie_formby@labour.org.uk) 
  • Write a letter of support to Chris Williamson MP (chris.williamson.mp@parliament.uk)
  • Invite Chris Williamson to a local rally/meeting in support of his reinstatement
  • Support the key aims of Labour Against the Witchhunt: 1) An end to automatic suspensions and expulsions. 2) Rejection of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people. 3) Abolition of Labour’s ‘compliance unit.’ (http://www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/contact/)
  • Affiliate to Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) at the soonest possible opportunity and include a statement of support for LAW on this CLP’s social media channels and website. (Cost £25 pa)
  • Campaign to reverse the NEC’s decision to adopt the disputed ‘definition of anti-Semitism’ published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)
  • Work to arrange a local screening of the “The Witchhunt” documentary https://witchhuntfilm.org)

Model motion 3

This branch/CLP notes with concern the use of the term (as attributed in the media to a Labour spokesman) “downplaying” anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

We believe that of course the Labour Party should combat all forms of racism.

However, accusations of “downplaying” anti-Semitism (or worse placing it on a par with anti-Semitism itself) have the potential to inhibit the freedom of all Labour Party members to discuss the issues relating to racism in the Party. They should for example be able to:

  • Challenge the assertion that the Labour Party is institutionally anti-Semitic. This has been repeated so many times that it has become established fact, despite the conclusions of the Chakrabati report and an all-party Home Affairs Select Committee that anti-Semitism and other types of racism are not endemic within Labour
  • Question whether the characterisation of the Labour Party as a racist organisation is fair or even in some cases politically motivated
  • Judge based on the data the extent of antisemitism in the Labour Party and whether the Party’s procedures and actions are effective and proportionate
  • Discuss whether the Party’s adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is appropriate
  • Speak out on cases of injustice within the Labour Party
  • Resist any curbs on legitimate freedom of speech and any move towards a culture of denunciation

This branch/CLP  therefore moves to:

  • Write to Jennie Formby (Labour Party General Secretary) and Shami Chakrabarti (Shadow Attorney General) with a copy of this motion
  • Submit this motion to local Constituency Labour Parties as necessary

Solidarity with Chris Williamson MP

Like and share this post:

The suspension of Chris Williamson MP is an absolute disgrace. We stand in full solidarity with Chris, who must be cleared as soon as possible by Labour’s “investigation” – though judging by how Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein, Ken Livingstone and many, many more Corbyn supporters have been thrown under the bus, we have very little confidence that he will receive a fair one.

He is the latest victim of the witch-hunt by the right in the party whose main target is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn himself.

Jeremy Corbyn recently said: “Chris Williamson is a very good, very effective Labour MP. He’s a very strong anti-racist campaigner. He is not anti-Semitic.” Corbyn was right. He should finally stand up and tell people like Jon Lansman and John McDonnell to stop joining in the witch-hunt – but support the thousands of left-wingers who have been investigated, suspended and expelled, many of them on false accusations of anti-Semitism.

This campaign to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism will only get worse, the closer we get to a general election. Trying to appease the right clearly does not work. If you fight, you might loose – but if you don’t fight, you have already lost.

“They can fuck off”. Report of LAW’s first ever fringe meeting at LP conference

Like and share this post:

Labour Against the Witchhunt held a successful fringe meeting at the Labour conference. Stan Keable reports

“There can be no greater injustice than anti-racists being accused of racism by racists,” the Scouse comedian Alexie Sayle told LAW’s packed fringe meeting on Sunday night. The potential for a “massive transformation” of the Labour Party and society opened up by “the miracle of Jeremy Corbyn” has overcome Alexei’s longstanding objection to voting. Having grown up in a communist family, he used to say: “Don’t vote, struggle against capitalism”. But, although Jeremy has changed all that, Alexei has not joined the Labour Party. A comedian needs to maintain their independence, he said, to be able to criticise any politician. The witch-hunters can’t expel me because I am not a member, he added, “so they can fuck off!” (The democracy we fight for, of course, includes the right of any Labour member, comedians included, to criticise all Labour leaders.)

Jewish Voice for Labour’s Jo Bird, newly elected four weeks ago as a councillor in Birkenhead, pointed out that she and her comrades had been canvassing for weeks, talking to people about all manner of issues, but “no-one raised the issue of anti-Semitism on the door”. She was appalled by Birkenhead MP Frank Field. He rounded on the rank-and-file party membership within his constituency. He invented accusations of anti-Semitism and bullying. To all those party members falsely suspended and expelled, she said: “You are owed a huge apology. On behalf of the party, I am very, very sorry.”

That moving apology became particularly poignant when 73-year-old Bob Walker, the youngest of the ‘Garston 3’, described how three disabled pensioners were expelled for merely attending a meeting of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition – to discuss socialism. Gerry Tyrell, Tony Lock and Bob were rewarded for their tireless work of knocking on doors and delivering leaflets in all weathers during the 2017 general election campaign by being expelled. They were not told the names of their accusers or the evidence against them. Nor was there any hearing or right of appeal. LAW demands due process before any disciplinary sanction is taken.

Ex-Liverpool councillor Tony Mulhearn called on Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell to stand up to the witch-hunters: “No more apologies, no more retreats. When you apologise, you are accepting you did something wrong.” He called out Andrew Marr for the bias he showed that morning while interviewing Corbyn, insistently cross-examining him about anti-Semitism allegations for more than 20 minutes. “Jeremy should have asked Marr who prepares such questions for him”, he said. Moreover, Corbyn should have asked: “Why don’t you show pictures of me on anti-racist demonstrations?” and “Why are Jews who support Jeremy never interviewed?” The smear campaign is “producing fear among Jewish people”, Mulhearn added.

Recalling the “ridiculously long list of charges” he faced in his own expulsion in 1986, comrade Mulhearn reminded us of how that earlier witch-hunt had been politically driven by the “bloated toad” Neil Kinnock. He insisted on getting people expelled regardless of the facts. “A witch-hunt is irrational”, said Tony, “because the decision has already been made”. At that time, John McDonnell had stood firm in his defence, but is now singing a different tune: “We need to be conciliatory, we are a broad church.” As LAW vice-chair Tony Greenstein commented: “Even the broadest church expels atheists. The ‘atheists’ in our party are those who are not, and never have been, socialists.”

Chairperson Annyana Ndukwe of Liverpool LAW and Grassroots Black Left read out a solidarity message from Asa Winstanley of Electronic Intifada, who was unable to join the panel of speakers:

Despite the new leftwing general secretary Labour has, the party bureaucracy is still disciplining members on entirely fallacious pretexts. One comrade in Brighton showed me a letter she received this very month from Labour’s head of complaints, Sophie Goodyear, warning her that several “provocative” tweets she’d allegedly written in 2016 had “caused offence” and that such “abuse” would “not be tolerated” in Labour … One of the three tweets cited was simply the comrade posting the headline and link to my April 2016 article, ‘How Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisis’ without comment … it seems that at least some in Labour HQ are treating critical journalism like Electronic Intifada as banned publications. (Full text here)

Tony Greenstein, expelled in February 2018, told us how he had also been suspended from the party in 1992 by then general secretary Larry Whitty, now a Lord – “well rewarded for services rendered to the capitalist state”, as comrade Mulhearn put it. Comrade Greenstein emphasised that the witch-hunt is “not about anti-Semitism, it is about removing Corbyn as leader”.

Chris Williamson MP, introduced by comrade Ndukwe as “one of the few MPs who is a true socialist”, confronted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the party, declaring that he often describes Israel as an apartheid state. He compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the fate of the Cherokees in America. Denouncing the “terrible injustice” being done to Jackie Walker, he condemned the way Marc Wadsworth had been “demonised as a bigot” for merely “asking a question at a press conference”.

Comrade Williamson, advocating mandatory reselection, quoted Ed Miliband’s advice: “If we trusted the members more, we would not have made so many mistakes”. And he laid into Neil Kinnock’s view that the party belongs to the MPs, not the members. As for those MPs who object to reselection on the grounds of employment rights: “It ain’t a job, mate! You are elected as a representative of the party and the people who elected you.”

Calling on Corbyn and McDonnell to wake up and confront the rightwing witch-hunters, comrade Williamson said McCarthyism, like all bullying, only stopped when people stood up to it. “The monster is getting bigger. Stop feeding the beast!”


LAW has also been running a number of stalls in Liverpool, organised a successful emergency lobby of the NEC and the showing of Jackie Walker’s ‘The Lynching’ with actress Jo Martin taking over Jackie’s role.

Message of support from Chris Williamson MP

Like and share this post:

Click here to download all messages of support in a PDF file: from Alexei Sayle, Ken Loach and Chris Williamson MP

Please accept my apologies that I can’t be with you tonight, but I would like to express my support for and solidarity with Marc’s campaign to clear his name.

I attended Marc’s hearing and spoke on his behalf, which is why I know that the National Constitutional Committee’s decision was inconsistent with the evidence before them.

As I said immediately after the outcome was announced, the decision has all the hallmarks of predetermination and tramples on the Labour Party’s record of standing up for fairness.  The NCC has besmirched the reputation of a veteran anti-racist campaigner and their decision cannot be allowed to stand.

Marc deserves the support of everyone who believes in natural justice, democracy and the progressive agenda that delivered two landslide leadership victories for Jeremy Corbyn, and Labour’s biggest vote share increase since 1945.

As Martin Luther King Jr once said: “It is always the right time to do the right thing.” And the right thing to do now is help Marc to right the terrible wrong that has been done to him.

Best wishes,

Chris Williamson MP