In consideration of the ongoing attacks upon Jeremy Corbyn (“Defend Chris Williamson. Fight to Kick Out the Blairites”), I think it is important to highlight that many Labour Party members have been circulating an open letter entitled “Labour Party members in solidarity with Chris Williamson.” (Members can sign it by following this link.) The letter began:
“We are deeply concerned about the suspension of Chris Williamson MP for Derby North over allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ after a recording of him speaking at a Momentum meeting was released recently. We stand in solidarity with Chris, who we fully expect to be cleared as soon as possible by Labour’s investigation – in line with our Labour core values of fairness and natural justice.”
Later on, the letter explained:
“Chris Williamson 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.”
“These comments are neither anti-Semitic, nor denying the existence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. He is simply expressing a sentiment that many of us have that we should not be overly apologetic for something we have not done, and in this case we have actively, as a party, worked tirelessly to ensure that anti-Semitism and all other forms of racism and bigotry are purged from our party, our movement, and our society as a whole.”
At the time of writing some 2,563 members had signed the open letter, including just one of Leicester’s 52 largely Blairite councillors.
Importantly the letter included the facts and figures that demonstrate that Williamson was correct in stating that the Labour Party is continuing to do a good job in fighting anti-Semitism, and the letter point out how “the context and statistics” it refers to “have not been widely reported or have been mis-reported.”
Nevertheless, none of this stopped Corbyn’s enemies, like Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, from latching upon this issue to undermine Corbyn’s leadership. Hence on the day of Williamson’s suspension he said to Channel 4 News that Williamson’s “damaging the Labour movement, and I hope that the leadership take the action that they need to take.” This is scandalous behaviour on Ashworth’s part, which was reasserted by him in his equally scandalous tweet that only served to distort the entire issue wherein he asserted:
“It’s simply not possible to be too apologetic for anti semitism. Such comments are totally wrong, hurtful, offensive, provocative and self indulgent. And there is nothing socialist about castigating the Party & movement for being too apologetic when it comes to racism” (Twitter, February 27)
This distortion was quickly replied to by an ordinary Labour member who simply stated:
“OK Jonathan let me explain why you are wrong. If you apologise not only for anti-semitism but ALSO for suffering bogus accusations of anti-semitism, then you are apologising too much. This is not rocket science.” (Twitter, February 27)
Of course, Mr Ashworth choose not to reply. He had made his own distortion in the national media, and as far as he was concerned the issue was closed!