Williamson was never a left-winger; good riddance to himby Oliver Kamm / November 7, 2019 / Leave a comment
By no plausible standards could Chris Williamson, who was yesterday blocked by Labour’s national executive from standing as a candidate, be judged a left-winger. He has become a totem for the radical left for the sole reason that he has fairly remorselessly insulted or baited Britain’s Jewish community. His resignation letter from the party was entirely in accord with this record: a bizarre, ranting screed in which he contemptibly insinuated that he was a victim of nefarious Israeli interference in British politics.
Relief that the party has finally barred this demagogue as a candidate can’t but be tempered by the knowledge that he represents an ideological strain that has grown within Labour since Jeremy Corbyn became leader, and that there are others like him. To those who hold centre-left views and have usually (in my case, almost always) voted Labour, the state of the party is astonishing and appalling. This is not some fringe revolutionary sect but a historic party of the reformist left, with deep roots in Anglo-Jewry and long connections with the Labour cause in Israel and the search for a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
Williamson is a historically trivial figure in himself, and this is indeed my point. He entered parliament in 2010 as MP for Derby North having served in municipal government, where he was instrumental in a housing scheme based on a private finance initiative and led Derby Council in coalition with the Tories. He backed Ed Miliband for leader rather than Diane Abbott, supported military intervention in Libya and air strikes on Islamic State in Iraq, and abstained on the immigration bill proposed by Theresa May that envisaged the infamous “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants. After losing his seat in 2015, he won it back two years later and became a single-minded campaigner to undermine moderate colleagues and (there’s no better way of putting it) troll Jews, all the while denying that he was anti-semitic and insisting he was merely an opponent of Zionism.
To comprehensively list his inflammatory behaviour by word and deed would take more space than I have available but none was so noisome as to post on social media an attack by a far-left website on the Board of Deputies of…