UK Labour Leader Corbyn Under Pressure Over Readmission of MP Who Dismissed Antisemitism Concerns
The civil war in the British Labour Party over the readmission of a leading ally of party leader Jeremy Corbyn intensified on Friday, as more than 60 Labour members of the British Parliament signed a motion calling for their colleague Chris Williamson again be suspended.
The initiative came one day after 120 Labour parliamentarians and lords led by deputy leader Tom Watson demanded that Williamson — one of Corbyn’s most vocal backers and a prominent supporter of the anti-Zionist BDS campaign targeting Israel — be ejected from the party.
Williamson was welcomed back into the party on Wednesday, following a brief suspension over a remark that Labour had been “too apologetic” over the antisemitism scandals that have plagued its ranks since Corbyn took charge in 2015.
Speaking to a cheering crowd at a meeting in the city of Sheffield last February, Williamson said that the party’s supposed meekness in rejecting the charges of antisemitism in its ranks were to blame for Labour’s public image as an organization hostile to Jews.
“I’ve got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible,” William declared. “Because, in my opinion, we’ve backed off far too much, we’ve given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic.”
A three-person internal committee decided on Wednesday to reject a recommendation by party officials to refer Williamson — who represents the constituency of Derby North in central England — to the next stage of a disciplinary process.
Leaders of the UK Jewish community described the decision as a “slap in the face,” while several observers pointed to the timing of Williamson’s readmission, which comes as the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), a UK government agency, is formally investigating Labour for alleged “institutional antisemitism.”
The motion signed by the Labour MPs on Friday calls for the Parliamentary Labour Party “to take action to suspend the whip from Chris Williamson for a period of a year.”
Others pressuring Corbyn to sanction a disciplinary process included one of his most loyal confidantes — Jon Lansman the Jewish founder of the far-left advocacy group “Momentum” that backs Corbyn.
In a tweet, Lansman said that Williamson had shown “not one iota of contrition nor any acknowledgement of wrongdoing following a further formal warning from the Labour party for behaviour grossly detrimental to the party. Such contempt for the party’s verdict! He has to go!”
Sir Keir Starmer — who has been attempting to fashion a coherent response from the Labour Party to the current “Brexit” crisis over EU membership — also condemned the decision to readmit Williamson.
“I do not understand the rationale behind the decision,” Starmer said on Twitter. “The EHRC [Equality and Human Rights Commission] should also be invited to look at the specifics of this case.”