Labour Against the Witchhunt
We believe that the renewed suspension of Chris Williamson MP is a travesty of justice.
We are particularly concerned that Keith Vaz’ U-turn seems to have been motivated purely by the pressure coming from the right inside and outside the party. Sadly but unsurprisingly, that now includes Jon Lansman.
We presume Vaz initially judged the case by its merit and found – correctly – that Chris had not said or done anything that could be described as anti-Semitic or bringing the party into disrepute. Vaz quite rightly judged that the evidence did not warrant Chris’s ongoing suspension or his referral to the National Constitutional Committee (which is still dominated by the right).
But Vaz’s U-turn and Chris’s renewed suspension, following the deeply undemocratic and hysterical letter organised by Tom Watson, symbolise how unfair and one-sided the whole disciplinary process really is. The right is calling all the shots – and Labour HQ seems to always do exactly what they demand.
But the right will never be appeased. They will never accept Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, let alone prime minister. They will continue their campaign of sabotage, because he remains an unreliable ally from the ruling class’s point of view, especially given his strong support for the rights of Palestinians.
There is very little chance that Chris will get a fair hearing from the NEC Disputes Panel, when several of those who will sit in judgment upon him have already torn his reputation to shreds on social media, without even having seen all the evidence.
We therefore call on the NEC:
- to immediately reinstate Chris Williamson, as recommended by the NEC panel
- to immediately open trigger ballots so that Labour Party members can choose a parliamentary candidate who actually reflects their wishes
- to stop the practice of automatic suspensions and expulsions: members should be regarded as innocent until proven guilty
Labour Party Northern Ireland
1. We are opposed to the original suspension of Chris Williamson MP. Given that the opinion expressed was a reasonable one, we consider that there was insufficient evidence from the outset that his comments constituted conduct that justified withdrawal of the whip.
2. We are opposed to the second suspension of Chris Williamson on the grounds that it was arbitrary and unreasonable, being as it failed to adhere to Labour Party rules and procedures governing disciplinary matters.
3. We are opposed to the disciplining of any member who publicly states that the Labour Party does not have a particular problem with anti-semitism.
4. We call on the Labour Party leadership and on all members to robustly challenge the false narrative that the Labour Party is a racist and bigoted party.
Jewish Voice for Labour
This branch/CLP notes with alarm the unprecedented over-ruling of an NEC disciplinary panel decision to lift the suspension of Derby North MP Chris Williamson, as a result of a hostile public campaign led by members of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Disciplinary panels have delegated powers and make their decisions in the light of material presented to them by party staff and independent advice from qualified legal counsel. To our knowledge there is no previous case of a panel decision being referred back to the NEC. For this to happen as a result of partisan political lobbying is unacceptable interference in the processes the party has been struggling to make faster, more robust and more effective. It amounts to a violation of the natural justice that members have a right to expect in the party’s disciplinary procedures.
We call upon the NEC, meeting on July 9, to reject such interference and to uphold the decision of the June 27 panel lifting Chris Williamson’s suspension.
We note that:
- Chris Williamson is a well-respected and hardworking MP with great standing in his constituency and a strong record of anti-racist campaigning.
- Our campaign for a Labour Government depends on the dedication and principled commitment of Chris Williamson and others like him.
- Chris Williamson, Labour MP for Derby North, said ”The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. …[O]ur party has been partly responsible for that because… we have backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”
- Following his initial suspension (27/02/19) Chris Williamson was tried according to procedure by the 3 member panel of the NCC and the suspension was lifted (26/06/19).
- Following the lifting of his suspension, a hostile and personal campaign against him by the Media and sections of the PLP has resulted in unprecedented action to refer his case on to the NEC (28/06/19).
We believe that Chris Williamson’s comments are not anti-Semitic.
We strongly disagree with the actions of the members of the Parliamentary Labour Party who published a letter calling upon Jeremy Corbyn to overturn this decision on the basis that there has been, “political interference.”
This branch/ CLP reaffirms our support for Chris Williamson and we call on the NEC to reinstate Chris Williamson immediately.