Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Chris Williamson’s New Best Friend, Tony Greenstein, and Nemesis, Owen Jones.

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“Williamson became a topic that caused mounting anger and frustration within the leadership, including Corbyn who according to senior aides, privately called him an idiot and wished he’d shut his fucking mouth. (Page 253. This Land.)

Many people have reviewed Owen Jones’ This Land, The Story of a Movement (2020). It is a participant’s account of the Corbyn moment,  a “political revolution”  in the Labour Party. It begins with an account of left wing protests in the new millenium, the Stop the War marches in 2003, and continues up to (amongst others) the People’s Assembly Against Austerity formed in 2013. The author by this a national columnist, was prepared to offer some selfless support for this and other campaigns, touring the county to speak in towns and cities. Work, as a Parliamentary Researcher for John McDonnell in 2005, and, for some time, membership of the Labour Representation Committee reinforces the depth of his commitment to the left. That is, before Corbyn’s win the Labour internal elections.

From Jeremy Corbyn’s success in the 2015 leadership contest, an honourable score in the 2017 national ballot, to crushing electoral defeat in 2020, Jones offers a weighted series of judgements within a compelling set of first hand reports on the day-to-day working and strategies of the Labour leadership, and their internal battles. It is an effort to present neither a story of Corbyn as the leader of a “crazed political cult” doomed to fail from the word go,  or a noble effort wrecked by internal sabotage and the eternal right-wing smear campaign against socialism. It remains an important record.

 

Reception has often focused on ‘Corbyn’s Court’. “This is Seumas Milne, he does our thinking for us” the Labour chief would sometimes introduce him.  After some less than faint praise for the Party’s Communications Director, This Land talks at length of how Milne was “sadly lacking”, “evasiveness”. turning up at meeting only to “waltz in and out”, lack of professionalism, and a fair amount more. Other figures appear in This Land. Andrew Murray,  Karie Murphy, Len McClusky, with varying degrees of respect and criticism. Jones’ ally Andrew Fisher, come across as a thoroughly decent person, with a real political ‘nose’ which is not the case for everybody.

Its pages are worth reading now, with some distance.

But this is not another review of last year’s political books.

This Blog thinks simply that  Owen Jones is a good thing. He is a columnist, a commentator. He does the ground work. He offers analysis. You can disagree.  But the last thing left wing politics needs is an echo chamber.

So one one let readers gauge if History will be kinder “to a “reluctant leader” with a deep-rooted revulsion of injustice” who “withstood a campaign of vilification that would have broken many”. Or that his failures included that, used to agreement amongst those on his section of the left he was left struggling “with difficult conservations with those he disagreed with” and that his stubbornness contributed to a “bunker mentality” of his inner circle. Some may agree that it was a tragedy that John McDonnell, “serious on winning the prize” was not in charge, and  “Labour’s lost leader”

But I digress…..

Chris Williamson, never one to forget a grudge, has been nursing one against Jones. Apart from the head quote there is another,

If those described as ‘cranks’ had a King, it was Chris Williamson. As leader of Derby City Council he implemented  pro-privatisation schemes, the Private Finance initiative, and formed an alliance with the Conservatives in order to govern. ….2010, backed Ed Miliband ..I met him at the time, He was a middle of the road ‘soft left’ MP who would tweet countdowns about how many days remained until a Miliband government would usher in ‘responsible capitalism’. Williamson supported the war on Libya Western airstrikes on Iraq in 2014, and refused to vote against Conservative workfare programmes in 2013……But when he lost his seat in 2015 Williamson re-invented himself a revolutionary, his new political outlook accompanied by a Twitter profile picture of Fidel Castro accompanied by Nelson Mandela,” (Pages 251 – 2)

And it gets hotter,

“But is was Williamson’s role in the antisemitism crisis that proved toxic” .

Jones lists many incidents, the defence of any Labour member accused of anti-semitism, notably Jackie Walker, re-tweeting dubious figures, and, as people who follow this Blog and others know full well, Williamson’s “inflammatory comments”. This Land claims that Karie Murphy  (Executive Director of the Labour Party’s Leader’s Office, LOTO) acted a  “one-woman” Chris Williamson defence league. This does not reflect well on her judgement. Or indeed on those on the left who rallied behind him.

The saga continues.

It’s the Alternative Voice: the Monster Raving Greenstein Party take on This Land.

 

Review of Owen Jones ‘This Land’ – a liberal apologist for Israeli Apartheid who helped bring the Corbyn Project down

 

I have devoted a whole blog to ‘The AntiSemitism Crisis’ in Owen Jones book, because he played a key role in supporting a campaign whose sole purpose was removing Corbyn.

In years to come, the moral panic over ‘anti-Semitism’ which helped destroy the Corbyn leadership of the Labour Party, will come to be seen for what it was. Utterly contrived and confected.

It is not hard to see why Williamson likes this torrent of a rant,

Chris Williamson [251-3]

If the ‘cranks’ had a king according to Jones, it was the socialist Labour MP Chris Williamson. There follows what can only be described as litany of lies. This is ‘journalism’ according to Jones.

Chris’s crimes included meeting Miko Peled, son of an Israeli General and hiring a House of Commons room to show Jackie Walker’ film WitchhuntThe film was an expose of the fake anti-Semitism campaign. The Zionists did not like it and when it was scheduled to be shown at the Labour Conference in 2018 someone phoned a bomb threat to the place where it showing. Jones has nothing to say about these Zionist attacks on free speech.

Let those who plan to align with Williamson, and his “grassroots, anti-imperialist working class movement” Resist, such as the Socialist Party and the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) reflect on what kind of figure this man is..

 

Here’s some more of Williamson’s allies:

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 30, 2021 at 12:03 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Williamson is typical of the kind of middle class twats who, when disappointed by their fortunes as right wingers or “moderates” within the Labour Party, suddenly become ever so “left wing” and even “r-r-revolutionary”. And, very often (as in the case of Williamson) antisemitic.

    Jim Denham

    January 30, 2021 at 5:38 pm

  2. Yes. Its a trajectory not often commented on, but real nonetheless We have a few cases in my area. I know of at least a couple of members who spent the early 1990’s in the imperial pomp of Blairism dissing me (as a then council leader) as a, in their lexicon, “dinosaur” (I enjoyed having a kids paper mache model of a T Rex on my desk) and who, up to recently at least, were thumping the table at regional meetings of Momentum denouncing me and others as “Melts” or whatever the phrase was. It’s all a bit like being one of those guys working a fairground dodgem who retreats to the centre of the apparatus and watches everthing else whizz by him, and whizz by him, and……………

    david walsh

    January 30, 2021 at 6:50 pm

    • We have not even gone down to the lower depths of Williamson, his collaboration with Assad Supporters.

      “. The time Williamson promoted a Syrian war crimes denier

      For me, one of the most unforgivable things Williamson has done, last summer, was promote Vanessa Beeley, a war crimes denier and fake news merchant. Here is an extract from Oz Katerji in the New Statesman on this incident:
      Williamson, who was attending the Beautiful Days festival, tweeted of his “privilege” in meeting Vanessa Beeley, a blogger who described meeting the Syrian regime’s war criminal president Bashar al Assad as her “proudest moment” and has waged a relentless campaign of lies and distortion to promote the Assad regime abroad… Responding in kind to Williamson’s endorsement, Beeley said in a Facebook post “Hats off to Chris Williamson, Labour MP – a genuine human being.”…

      June 29, 2019
      WHAT’S WRONG WITH CHRIS WILLIAMSON?

      I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen people on Twitter – whether ignorantly or disingenuously – claiming to not know what’s wrong with Chris Williamson.

      Here are just a few of the things. I’m starting with some that have nothing to do with antisemitism. And the antisemitism issues I’m including having nothing to do with Israel-Palestine, so please don’t tell me that all Williamson has done is criticise Israel. Some of this was in my older posts about him (here and here). A lot of the material is via Twitter, because Williamson is a prolific tweeter, but Williamson blocked me on Twitter on Holocaust Memorial Day this year, so I also drew for the antisemitism section on Twitter threads by Marlon Solomon and Barny Skinner and Daniel Sugarman’s article.

      RED TORY

      I want to start with Williamson’s politics. The #IStandWithChrisWilliamson online army see him as being under attack because he represents the left of the party. How does that claim stand up?

      1. The time Williamson entered into coalition government with the Tories and drove through privatisation

      Chris Williamson entered politics in his thirties via local politics in Derby, eventually becoming leader of Derby council. How did that go? He formed an alliance with the Conservatives, demolished council flats to make way for a 5* hotel, and supported PFI initiatives for housing, which he later said did not deliver value for money.

      2. The times Williamson didn’t vote with the left

      Williamson likes to describe himself as a life-long anti-racist, but he didn’t vote against the racist immigration legislation that led to the Hostile Environment and Windrush. He also – with Kate Hoey, Ruth Smeeth and John Mann – rebelled against the Labour whip in several of the recent EU debates, voting against the interests of EU migrants.

      SYRIA

      3. The time Williamson promoted a Syrian war crimes denier

      For me, one of the most unforgivable things Williamson has done, last summer, was promote Vanessa Beeley, a war crimes denier and fake news merchant. Here is an extract from Oz Katerji in the New Statesman on this incident:
      Williamson, who was attending the Beautiful Days festival, tweeted of his “privilege” in meeting Vanessa Beeley, a blogger who described meeting the Syrian regime’s war criminal president Bashar al Assad as her “proudest moment” and has waged a relentless campaign of lies and distortion to promote the Assad regime abroad… Responding in kind to Williamson’s endorsement, Beeley said in a Facebook post “Hats off to Chris Williamson, Labour MP – a genuine human being.”…
      Williamson’s tweet provoked immediate condemnation, drawing a strong response from James O’Brien, who called Williamson a “disgrace” and referred to Beeley as “Assad’s very own Alex Jones.” The Washington Post’s Middle East correspondent, Louisa Loveluck, responded to Williamson’s endorsement of Beeley’s “reporting” with: “Beeley has justified the use of incendiary weapons against civilians, recycled and championed debunked conspiracy theories, and described a meeting with Assad as her proudest moment. This is cheerleading, not reporting.”
      Noting that Beeley has viciously slandered the late Jo Cox (Beeley “has shamelessly accused her of being a “warmongering Blairite” and “al-Qaeda advocate” endorsing a policy of “wholesale devastation” on Syria.) Oz argues that the Labour Party has a choice between being the party of Jo Cox or the party of Chris Williamson.”

      The times Williamson promoted fake news about chemical weapons in Syria

      And so it goes.

      http://brockley.blogspot.com/2019/06/whats-wrong-with-chris-williamson.html

      Andrew Coates

      January 30, 2021 at 7:00 pm

  3. A couple of CW quotes;

    ‘The Liberal Democrats were today celebrating becoming the largest party on Derby City Council after a night of spectacular gains … Labour leader Chris Williamson said that his party would have to take stock of the election results before deciding whether or not to renew the pact with the Tories.’ – Derby Evening Telegraph (2008) [

    ‘A former council leader, Labour’s Chris Williamson, was among those in favour of a higher allowance – pointing out that a fairer salary would attract younger people to politics. “There are very few young people able to give the time to become elected members,” he said.’ – Derby Evening Telegraph (2009)

    david walsh

    January 30, 2021 at 7:29 pm

    • David, I have some involvement in local politics, going back, er, a few decades.

      You are more experienced than I am.

      It is not hard to spot a wrong ‘un, though generally they are shunted off to some harmless post.

      A simple reason is that most councillors are thoroughly decent types.

      But in this case you have found a right stinker!

      Andrew Coates

      January 30, 2021 at 8:08 pm

      • Andrew Coates

        January 31, 2021 at 5:00 pm


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