Labour removed the whip from Chris Williamson and suspended his party membership yesterday, following a leaked video recording of the Derby North MP saying the party had been “too apologetic” for antisemitism, and the revelation that he planned to host suspended Labour member Jackie Walker for a meeting in parliament. Walker was first suspended for claiming “Jews were the chief financiers of the slave trade,” and then again after criticising Holocaust Memorial Day.
Williamson’s suspension has been a long time coming. Here’s ten things he’s done which should mean he’s never allowed to return to the Labour Party.
1 Petition for Gilad Atzmon
Signed and shared on social media a petition against Islington Council’s ban on antisemitic musician Gilad Atzmon performing at one of its venues. Atzmon has promoted holocaust denial, blamed the Grenfell Tower fire on “Jerusalemites” who were “following mitzvot”, and suggested that Hitler’s actions against the jews were a “direct response to the declaration of war on Germany by the worldwide Jewish leadership.” Williamson apologised and claimed that he wasn’t aware Atzmon was anything other than a musician. He hasn’t explained for what reason, if that’s the case, he thought Atzmon had been banned.
2 Defending Marc Wadsworth
Jackie Walker isn’t the first individual expelled or suspended by the Labour Party for antisemitism who Williamson has defended. He shared the link to a crowdfunder to sue the Labour Party after it expelled Marc Wadsworth, who accused Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth of “working hand-in-hand” with the media.
3 Sharing a platform with Tony Greenstein
Last September Williamson shared a platform with Tony Greenstein, who was expelled from the Labour Party after he claimed Jewish MP Louise Ellman “supported Israeli child abuse,” “gay zionists make me want to puke,” and that Owen Jones is a “janus-faced whore.” The event was hosted by an organisation named Labour Against the Witch Hunt, which opposes disciplinary action against antisemitism.
4 Failed to confront antisemitic remarks at a meeting he addressed
At an event where an audience member claimed, “Israeli foot soldiers in Labour … are trying to take our democracy away from us,” Williamson didn’t directly address the comments, and urged the audience to be “brave” in the face of “sinister” action taken against “activists in Labour.”
5 Repeatedly denied antisemitism exists in the Labour Party
Williamson recently said he had “never seen any examples of antisemitism” in the Labour Party, and dismissed claims of antisemitism in Labour as “proxy wars and bullshit, smears and lies and dirty tricks.”
6 Tweeted his support for Vanessa Beeley
Williamson has tweeted his support for Vanessa Beeley, a conspiracy theorist who called Jo Cox “a warmongering Blairite” and an “Al Qaeda advocate” just a year after her murder. Beeley is also a supporter of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, and promotes the conspiracy theory that civilians and humanitarian workers in Syria are terrorists and legitimate targets for bombing.
7 Promoted conspiracy theories about the Salisbury poisoning
Williamson promoted conspiracy theories about the Salisbury poisoning, and shared the views of one blogger who suggested that Israel could have been behind the attempted murder, which was conducted by Russian intelligence officers. Meanwhile, he took money from Kremlin-backed state media channel Russia Today, and has continued to appear on the channel despite the Russian attack last year.
8 Denied Assad was behind the Dhouma chemical attack
Williamson gave a speech outside Parliament last year saying there was no evidence that Assad had launched a chemical attack in Dhouma. He also promoted a blog which repeated Russian state propaganda claiming no chemical attacks have taken place in Syria.
9 Formed an alliance with the Tories as leader of Derby Council
While leader of Derby Council, Williamson formed an alliance with Derby Conservatives and invited them into his cabinet. He also backed the demolition of council housing to make way for a 5* hotel, and boasted about his role in PFI schemes.
10 Campaigning for the deselection of Labour MPs
While most Labour MPs have been doing their job of holding the Tory Government to account and making the case for the Labour alternative, Williamson has been touring constituency Labour parties encouraging members to deselect their local MP.