Labour party

Chris Williamson scandal shows Corbyn’s Labour is institutionally anti-Semitic

BY Ben Kelly | tweet thescepticisle   /  27 February 2019

After a terrible week, the Labour Party managed to temporarily change the news agenda by throwing a dead cat on the table when it seemed to back a second referendum. Really, it’s just a continuation of the policy of obfuscation Corbyn and his inner circle have used to keep Leavers and Remainers onboard, with the bonus that it distracts from the unfolding crisis in the Party.

Now, the spotlight has returned to Labour’s descent into a toxic party of far left dogmatists and anti-Semites. Anti-Semitism was cited as among the keys reasons for leaving Labour by MPs who quit the party for the Independent Group last week. In response came the usual empty words about adopting a zero-tolerance policy on anti-Semitism, but actions speak louder than words.

This week the Labour leadership wrung its hands over the proposal to officially ban the Islamist terrorist group Hezbollah (Corbyn has previously called them “friends”). This is an organisation that explicitly seeks the elimination of the state of Israel, spreads anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and denies the holocaust. In the end, Labour managed to get to a position where they didn’t oppose the ban but instead questioned it based on a lack of evidence.

This is the new normal, but we should never find this acceptable.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Chris Williamson has been in the news again. Williamson faced criticism this week for helping to arrange a screening in parliament of a film defending Jackie Walker, the activist suspended from the party over comments about anti-Semitism. The screening was to be hosted by Jewish Voice for Labour, a pro-Corbyn organisation that denies there is any issue with anti-Semitism in Labour.

Walker was suspended after she wrote about Jewish people as “financiers of the sugar and slave trade” before being reinstated. She was suspended again in September 2016 after saying she had not found a definition of anti-Semitism she could work with, and questioning Holocaust Memorial Day.

After much criticism, Williamson cancelled the screening and said he hadn’t planned to attend or watch the film. Why would he? He saw it last week when he attended the premier in east London. The film is called “Witch Hunt” and attempts to cast scepticism on the (heavily evidenced) claims that Labour has experienced a problem with anti-Semitic behaviour under Corbyn’s leadership.

Then last night came the Yorkshire Post scoop, a video showing Williamson addressing a Momentum meeting passionately arguing that Labour has been “too apologetic” over anti-Semitism allegations:

“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.”

Tellingly, this received a very warm reception from the Momentum members in attendance. It’s clear that Chris Williamson believes himself to be untouchable. The fact that he felt able to openly talk like this and get away with it is symptom of just how far gone Labour is. This is yet another test, because only an institutionally anti=Semitic organisation would tolerate this and allow Williamson to remain within in it.

The initial reaction has been predictably pathetic. Corbyn’s office called on Williamson to apologise and withdraw his comments. If his actions were taken seriously, he would have had the whip withdrawn immediately without hesitation.

Williamson has now issued an apology, which is just more self-congratulation about Labour’s anti-racist credentials and mythical “historic struggle against racism”. Not only does this narrative forget Labour’s tepid opposition to fascism in the 30’s and its enactment of various anti-immigrations laws, including the explicitly racist Immigration Act of 1968, it is a contemptible defence of the very real racism problem Labour now has.

In his letter, Williamson tries once again to minimise the problem (which is, remember, what he is apologising for in the first place). He says there have been “very few” cases of anti-Semitism in the Party, when in fact the cases have been shockingly numerous, with Twitter accounts dedicated to chronicling just some of it. Examples come from self-proclaimed Corbyn supporters, Labour members, councillors, MP’s – including several examples from Williamson himself – and Corbyn’s unofficial spokespeople.

It’s this simple. Forget the pathetic “few rotten apples” or “tiny minority” argument, the Labour Party is now made up of anti-Semites, apologists for anti-Semitism and those who are willing to tolerate anti-Semitism. Principled MPs should leave now.

The sincerity of Williamson’s apology would be more plausible if he hadn’t made so many appalling comments that reveal his own bigotry and tolerance of bigotry. Anyone who defends him is themselves either stupid, a bigot or immoral enough to cover for a bigot.

Last week he said “We have backed off on too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic.” This week he said “I was trying to stress how much the party has done to tackle anti-Semitism.”

Come off it. Check out this Jewish Chronicle article for more Williamson highlights.

After a media storm, criticism from the Prime Minister, protest from many MPs, and reported pressure from Tom Watson, Williamson has finally been suspended. Labour sources say that once the “pattern of behaviour” was reviewed in full, the decision was made. The problem with this is that the “pattern of behaviour” has been evident for a very long time. Corbyn had to be dragged kicking and screaming to this decision. 

The reason Corbyn was reluctant to act is because Williamson is a key ally and a friend. What to make of that? A deeply unpleasant man, part of the worst extreme traditions of the Left, an anti-Semite and defender of anti-Semites, is considered a friend by Corbyn.

Last year Williamson was justifiably branded a “Jew baiter” after signing a petition defending the notorious anti-Semite Gilag Atzmon. Corbyn defended him, saying he was an “anti-racist campaigner” and was “not antisemitic”. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous and so utterly terrifying to the Jewish community.

There is a lesson to learn here, if you haven’t already. Jeremy Corbyn isn’t a lovely and righteous old man who is so nice that he sometimes misses the nastiness in other people. He isn’t so focussed on social justice and anti-racism that he sometimes accidentally befriends racists or indulges in antisemitism himself. He hasn’t accidentally fallen in with the wrong crowd.

Chris Williamson is simply Jeremy Corbyn off-piste and without a filter. His actions and his words are a window into the mind of Corbyn, the true Corbyn we get to see in old video clips and news clippings. The one being cleverly concealed by his propagandists. Williamson allows us to scratch beneath the veneer and pierce the personality cult of the sweet old man and social justice warrior. What does it take for a man to become the leader of a Far-Left movement toxified by extreme dogmatists, bullies, abusive trolls, deranged conspiracy theorists and racists?

Think about it.


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