Tom Watson calls for Chris Williamson to be expelled
search

Tom Watson calls for Chris Williamson to be expelled

Labour deputy leader has written to Chief Whip to demand Williamson is expelled for bringing party into disrepute

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has demanded Chris Williamson has the party whip withdrawn amid a deepening row over antisemitism within the party.

Williamson is to be investigated, but not suspended after he told activists Labour has been “too apologetic” over antisemitism; remarks which he now says he “deeply regrets”.

In a clip published by the Yorkshire Post, Williamson told a meeting hosted by Momentum the party had “given too much ground”.

He suggested Labour’s response to complaints of antisemitism had contributed to the party being “demonised”.

Williamson also said he had celebrated the resignation of former Labour MP Joan Ryan, who defected to join the Independent Group of MPs last week, by singing Kool & The Gang’s 1980s pop classic Celebration.

In a letter to Labour’s Chief Whip Nick Brown and General Secretary Jennie Formby, Watson accused Williamson of bringing the party into “disrepute” and called for his expulsion.

Watson also tweeted: “Chris Williamson has produced a long-winded and heavily caveated apology. It is not good enough. If it was in my gift I would have removed the whip from him already.”

Labour MP West Streeting echoed Watson’s words, tweeting: “I do not believe this is sincere. I believe you have deliberately baited Jewish people in our Party and across the country.”

Louise Ellman described Labour’s decision to issue Williamson a notice of investigation as “meaningless” and a “failure of leadership yet again” and called for his suspension from the party and PLP. “The pressure will be kept on. The overwhelming number of MPs feel very strongly and Tom Watson is a great encouragement.”

Following speculation at the weekend she was on the verge of quitting the party, she said: “I’ve not taken any decision. I’m fighting this within but am increasingly angry.”

Earlier this week, Williamson provoked fresh outrage after he booked a room in Parliament on behalf of Jewish Voice for Labour for a screening of suspended Jackie Walker’s new film.

The film was due to be shown in a committee room of the House of Commons next Monday, though questions remained about whether the screening would be cancelled by the time Jewish News went to press.

JLM last summer called for the whip to be withdrawn from Williamson for a pattern of behaviour that has included repeatedly sharing platforms with suspended and expelled activists and retweeting from accounts with hardcore antisemitism.

He was also one of the few high-profile figures to continue to publicly support Pete Willsman’s efforts to be re-elected on to the NEC after the latter’s Jewish Trump fanatics rant was revealed.

Ruth Smeeth, who first raised the issue of the room booking, told Jewish News: “It’s outrageous that a member of Parliament is giving a platform to an organisation that seems more intent on characterising the antisemitism crisis within the party as smears rather than being part of solution.

“Giving these people and Jackie walker a platform at the home of British democracy is a complete and utter disgrace. I’ll be complaining to the Leader of the Labour Party and the house authorities.”

 Walker – who was suspended from Labour after saying that “many Jews were chief financiers of the slave trade” and then again over remarks during an antisemitism training event at party conference more than two years ago – is currently awaiting a disciplinary hearing.

The full letter is printed below.

Dear Nick and Jennie

I completely agree with Jennie that it is inappropriate for a Labour MP to help facilitate a member in the middle of a disciplinary process in campaigning against our democratically agreed processes at a public event.

To me this is clearly unacceptable conduct for a Labour MP and cannot go unchallenged.

I am therefore concerned that, as far as I am aware, Chris Williamson has still not cancelled this event which has been booked in his name despite the party publicly calling for this to happen.

I am of the view that Chris Williamson has to be told in no uncertain terms that the event he has booked must be cancelled by the end of today.

In addition to this, footage has emerged yesterday of Chris Williamson speaking at a public event a few days ago, where he undermined our efforts as a party to tackle antisemitism by saying “I have got to say I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we have backed off too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic”, when speaking about antisemitism in the party.

For me this is again completely unacceptable, it brings the party into disrepute, and amounts to a Labour MP breaching the party’s code of conduct on antisemitism in a public forum. The code makes clear that “”Any behaviour…. which undermines Labour’s ability to campaign against any form of racism, is unacceptable conduct within the Labour Party.” and we must act as a party to uphold and defend the processes we have set up to tackle antisemitism.

I formally request that Chris Williamson has the Labour whip removed from him and/or is suspended from the Labour Party.

Best Regards,

Tom

read more:
comments