Labour row gath­ers Mo­men­tum as Cor­byn ally de­fends activists

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY LEE HARPIN

ONE OF JEREMY Cor­byn’s clos­est al­lies has de­fended Labour activists who use lan­guage “per­ceived as an­tisemitic” at a packe d meet­ing of Mo­men­tum sup­port­ers in Liver­pool. Chris Wil­liamson, the Derby North MP, spoke out on Tuesday night af­ter a left-wing Labour mem­ber used a hard-core an­tisemitic trope to de­fend Peter Wills­man — the dis­graced rul­ing Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee mem­ber ex­posed on Mon­day by the JC.

To loud ap­plause, Mr Wil­liamson urged the au­di­ence to be “brave” in the fac e of “sin­is­ter” ac­tion taken agains t such “activists in the Labour Party.” Mr Wil­liamson said: “I don’t be­lieve they are an­ti­semites.”

Min­utes ear­lier, a mem­ber of the Sefton Con­stituency Labour Party, known only as Jack, used an openly an­tisemitic trope, claim­ing that “Is­raeli foot­sol­diers” are at­tempt­ing to “take our democ­racy away from us”.

In a speech that was given a stand­ing ova­tion, and the loud­est cheer of the night, Jack told the left-wing gath­er­ing: “What could be a greater threat to our democ­racy than a for­eign gov­ern­ment who is try­ing to veto the per­son we want for Prime Min­is­ter?

“Of course, I’m talk­ing about the Is­raelis with their foot­sol­diers in Labour — the LFI, the JLM.

“They are try­ing to take our democ­racy away from us.

“I was dis­ap­pointed in the Labour Party’s re­ac­tion to the smears that have been thrown at the party. I was dis­ap­pointed this morn­ing. I was fu­ri­ous this evening be­cause Pete Wills­man was forced to re­tract the state­ment he made.”

When Mr Wil­liamson re­turned to speak, he point­edly failed to chal­lenge the an­tisemitic con­spir­acy the­ory that

had been given rap­tur­ous ap­plause from the au­di­ence.

The MP, a for­mer shadow fire min­is­ter un­der Mr Cor­byn, said: “I un­der­stand the rea­sons why some feel cow­ered.”

He added: “I think it was wrong to take the ac­tion we did against Ken Liv­ing­stone … We should have drawn a line in the sand. Ken has spent his life fight­ing big­otry, an­tisemitism and racism.”

Mr Wil­liamson also at­tacked the Board of Deputies and the “self­ap­pointed” Jewish Lead­er­ship coun­cil. He said: “They don’t speak for all Jews in this coun­try - there’s a Jewish Voice For Labour, there’s the Jewish So­cial­ist Group, there’s non-aligned Jews.”

Ad­mit­ting “we need to be care­ful of the lan­guage we use”, he sug­gested those who did use an­tisemitic lan­guage should have “po­lit­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion” with re­gional of­fi­cers urged to “put your arms around these peo­ple”.

Dur­ing the event at the Quaker Meet­ing House in Liver­pool city cen­tre, speak­ers in­clud­ing Wal­ton MP Dan Car­den re­peat­edly at­tacked the Par­lia­men­tary Labour Party. And there was wide­spread anger from the au­di­ence about “smears” that have dogged Mr Cor­byn’s lead­er­ship.

Mr Wil­liamson sug­gested the “rul­ing class are throw­ing ev­ery­thing” at the Labour leader to stop him com­ing to power.

He also said he sup­ported manda­tory de­s­e­lec­tion of MPs. At one stage, the chair of Dame Louise Ell­man’s River­side CLP openly called for her to be re­placed.

Other speak­ers - in­clud­ing Nina Houghton, sec­re­tary of Lu­ciana Berger’s Wavertree CLP, and the chair of Wal­ton CLP, Mary Doolin, also re­peat­edly backed calls for the de­s­e­lec­tion of elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Ms Houghton, who de­clared her­self to be a fem­i­nist, claimed that Liver­pool’s Jewish fe­male MPs were not suf­fi­ciently pro-women.

She also backed calls for greater rep­re­sen­ta­tion of BAME (Black Asian and mi­nor­ity eth­nic) in­di­vid­ual in Liver­pool Labour - but faced em­bar­rass­ment when a black fe­male from the au­di­ence pointed out that the en­tire panel of speak­ers was white.

Chris Wil­liamson: we need po­lit­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion

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