Defend Chris Williamson. Fight to Kick Out the Blairites

There are no murky depths to which Blairite MPs will descend in their attempts to oust Jeremy Corbyn from the leadership of the Labour Party. The latest outrage committed against Labour’s membership was made earlier today by Siobhain McDonagh (Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden) who accuses Labour members of being anti-Semites: “Because it’s very much part of their politics, of hard left politics, to be against capitalists and to see Jewish people as the financiers of capital.

Such outrageous and dangerous slurs however are nothing new for McDonagh. For example, in 2015, shortly after she had her fellow Blairites had voted for the bombing of Syria, she wrote an article for the right-wing Evening Standard titled “Labour MPs must speak up for democracy against hard Left trolls.” In this disgraceful article she compared online criticism for her war-mongering ways to domestic violence. In response, Socialist Party member, Paul Callanan, succeeded in getting the following letter published in the Standard which pointed out how:

“Siobhain McDonagh’s article is yet another example of a figure from Labour’s hard Right losing their grip on reality. She even goes as far as comparing Left-wingers to the perpetrators of domestic violence. Surely this highly offensive slur is a prime example of the very bullying tactics she purports to oppose?

“The indignation of these figures stems from the fact that people are now trying to hold them to account. Surely Labour members should have a say in who represents the party at elections. Why do some MPs feel they have a divine right to a seat for life?

“The reason these people are making such allegations against the Left is clear. Jeremy Corbyn’s victory showed that people are desperate for a party that stands against austerity and war, which would consign MPs like Ms McDonagh to the history books.” (December 18, 2015)

McDonagh’s intolerable Blairite indignation was also exhibited on the eve of the successful vote of no-confidence in Joan Ryan by the members of her CLP, with McDonagh tweeting:

“Tonight my dear friend @joanryanEnfield faces a vote of no confidence because she stood up to anti semitism. She’s brave & tough. She’s prevailed against worse but how can this be right? She’s a brilliant MP & I stand with her!” (September 6, 2018)

ryan tweet

This of course is all complete rubbish: Joan Ryan lost the vote of no-confidence because the Labour Party members in her constituency had no faith in her ability to fight for socialist ideas. Little wonder that she recently left Labour’s ranks to work together with a groupuscle, which includes two Tories, in her ongoing efforts to undermine Corbyn.

And so, it continues… with the never-ending claims of anti-Semitism having just resulted in the suspension of Corbyn-supporting MP Chris Williamson. Williamson’s apparent crime in this instance was merely to state the truth, as in a Labour meeting he quite correctly stated:

“The [Labour] 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.”

Tragically, when the Blairites and the Tory press unleashed their virulent attacks upon Williamson for making these comments, instead of standing firm, he at first apologised and was then suspended. To make matters worse, this suspension was deemed correct by so-called Left Labour spokespeople like Owen Jones, who eagerly tweeted his support for yet another misplaced apology for anti-Semitism which took the form of an open letter which began:

“We are Labour members who support Jeremy Corbyn in his leadership and the progressive, socialist programme and anti-racist principles of the Labour Party.

“We have seen antisemitism from Labour members and supporters, online or offline. We recognise that as a movement we have been too slow to acknowledge this problem, too tolerant of the existence of antisemitic views within our ranks, too defensive and too eager to downplay it.

“We sincerely apologise to the Jewish community, and our Jewish comrades in the party, for our collective failure on this issue to date…”

Jones tweet

But apologising for stating the self-evident truth – as outlined in Williamson’s statement — is no way to stand-up against capitalist bullies, as such signs of weakness only invite further attacks. This was made plain by the response to Williamson’s speech and his ensuing apology by Hope Not Hate’s Campaigns Director, Matthew McGregor, who went straight in for the kill, stating:

“This is yet another in a series of carefully worded apologies from Chris Williamson, after yet again seeming to bait the Jewish community, in which he yet again minimises the problem. If Labour is serious about addressing antisemitism in the party, it will suspend Williamson and conduct a proper investigation.” (Twitter, February 27, 2018)*

Hope not hate tweet

As Socialist Party member Judy Beishon succinctly explains in her recent article: there must be “No more succumbing to the Blairite saboteurs!” (February 28) Williamson cannot afford to sit back and wait for the results of his investigation. This is why Beishon concludes:

Williamson needs to campaign among, and base himself on, the hundreds of thousands of Labour members – and trade unionists and other socialists – who want to see Corbyn’s policies being delivered.

“He also needs to back, and could help spearhead, the Socialist Party’s call for the convening of a labour movement conference to draw together all socialist fighters, trade unionists and anti-cuts activists to discuss and debate how Labour could be changed into a 100% anti-austerity party.

“Corbyn and McDonnell must urgently stop backing off from the right’s attacks, and instead go on a counter-offensive. The target of the right is to undermine Corbyn’s anti-austerity programme and to try to prevent him from getting into a position – as prime minister – where he can be pushed to go further in the interests of the working class.

“Corbyn, McDonnell and the left trade union leaders must stand firmly against the Blairite saboteurs and turn immediately to the urgent business of calling a mass demonstration and action to bring down the Tory government and achieve a general election.”

Note

*This problematic demand from Hope Not Hate was of course very much in keeping with McGregor’s own personal commitment to opposing socialist ideas by propping up capitalist alternatives, as he had joined Hope Not Hate early last year after “play[ing] a key role in the 2012 Presidential elections as the head of Barack Obama’s digital attack operation tasked with targeting Mitt Romney’s credibility.” Subsequent to that he was then recruited to help run the Labour Party’s 2015 General Election, where he as “asked to help Labour replicate the Democrat’s success in harnessing social media to ruthlessly attack their opponents.”

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