Firebrand MP Chris Williamson boasted about role in Derby PFI scheme

Chris Williamson's time in local government suggests the firebrand opposition MP was a pragmatic councillor when in power, boasting of setting up PFI deals and opposing criticism of New Labour's ID Cards scheme

Corbynite outrider and straight-talking Derby MP Chris Williamson today denounced Labour MPs who don’t share his worldview as ‘political enemies’.

So it may surprise his acolytes to learn that as leader of Derby council he boasted about signing a PFI deal and appeared to endorse the introduction of identity cards by striking out an edict put forward by Labour councillors opposing the plan.

Both PFI and ID cards were bitterly opposed by the left of the Labour Party and became so closely associated with New Labour that the former has been completely disowned by the current leadership.

John McDonnell said last year that PFI will end and existing deals will be brought into public ownership.

But as Leader of Derby Council in 2006, Williamson boasted that “as Chair of Housing in the mid-1990s I spearheaded one of the cities [sic] first Private Finance Initiative schemes”.  The project led to the redevelopment of a housing scheme, a worthwhile project but one he would presumably now condemn.

 

Perhaps more controversially, archive material shows Williamson also shot down  a request from councillors to write to the government calling on it to abandon ID cards, although in his defence he was simply following party policy by ignoring their demand.

His time in local government suggests the firebrand opposition MP was a pragmatic councillor when in power.

Times have changed, of course, and the language of compromise has now become so unfashionable it is in danger of becoming obsolete.

But politicians are judged on their records and Williamson’s record suggests his actions then may not match his rhetoric now.

They say the past is another country. For Williamson it may as well have been another planet.

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