Chris Williamson condemned those who supported Jewish MP as 'white privileged'

Exclusive: He said parliamentarians who stood with Ruth Smeeth were 'white people trying to shout down a black guy'


Labour MP Chris Williamson described the parliamentarians who marched in solidarity with Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth at an antisemitism hearing against a black activist who was later expelled by the party as “white privileged,” the JC can reveal.   

In a recording obtained by the JC, the Derby North MP repeatedly attempted to portray the hearing into the black activist Marc Wadsworth, who was expelled by Labour for bringing the party into disrepute, as an example of “white people trying to shout down a black guy.”

MPs including Luciana Berger, Dame Margaret Hodge and Jess Philips were photographed walking with Ms Smeeth ahead of last year’s hearing into Mr Wadsworth’s conduct.

Mr Williamson compared it to a film that dramatises the KKK's murder of civil rights activists, saying: “It looked like a scene out of Mississippi Burning.

"It was disgraceful, absolutely despicable in my opinion.”

Listen to the audio below

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson led calls for Mr Williamson to be suspended by Labour on Wednesday for bringing the party into disrepute after claiming they had been “too apologetic” over the antisemitism crisis.

In the speech obtained by the JC, which was given to Labour activists last September, Mr Williamson said Labour had “turned into a 21st century version of the Stasi” with its response to the antisemitism crisis.

He added: “I think frankly our response has been really really really poor – we’ve tried to reason with people who are completely unreasonable."

The MP also said: “I’ve been a member 42 years and I’ve never witnessed antisemitism – I’ve witnessed other forms of racism inside the Labour Party I regret to say.

“I’m not saying it’s never happened obviously. But let’s not inflate it and imply that it’s a major problem when it isn’t . It’s clear people have weaponised this.

“It’s not just me saying that, its people in the Jewish community who have said that.”

Mr Williamson said that those protesting against antisemitism in the party had repeatedly been given “concessions” as he referred to the departures of Ken Livingstone and Mr Wadsworth from Labour.

Insisting campaigners were using antisemitism as a means of removing the Labour leader, he said: “Ultimately what they want to do is topple Jeremy – they will not be satisfied until Jeremy has wither stepped down, died or been removed.”

He added: “It is like we are living in a George Orwell novel 1984. We’ve got the Ministry of Truth, we’ve got double-speak.. black is white, good is bad.”

Mr Williamson referred to the thousands of examples of antisemitism submitted to the Party and said “most of them are absurd.”

Then, discussing the expulsion of Mr Wadsworth from the Party over his conduct at the launch of the Chakrabarti report into antisemitism in Labour, Mr Williamson said Mr Wadsworth had been “shouted down” by “people shouting antisemitism at him.”

He added: “Bear in mind this is a room full of white people trying to shout down a black guy – what about the optics of that?”

Recalling the scene of the day of Mr Wadsworth’s hearing - where he was found guilty of having breached party rules after accusing Ms Smeeth of working "hand-in-hand" with right-wing newspapers – Mr Williamson said: “We had 40-50 white privileged parliamentarians marching down to try and influence a disciplinary hearing into a black guy."

He added: "Look we are on the left… We are decent people, we care... It’s in our DNA to be anti-racist.

“This is a really pernicious and effective attack – you are attacking the very foundation of what we believe in by implying we are antisemitic or racist."

Labour has been contacted for comment.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive