Exclusive: 'Israel lobby' row erupts among Labour MP's supporters

Leaked social media messages reveal arguments over Chris Williamson among campaigners for Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood



Labour candidate Margaret Greenwood's campaign to retain her Wirral West seat at next month's general election has been rocked by an "Israeli lobby" row among her own supporters.

Messages leaked to the JC from the Margaret4WW Campaign WhatsApp  group show how tensions flared last Wednesday after an activist wrote in support of the then suspended Labour MP Chris Williamson.

With the decision made that day on whether Mr Williamson could stand as a Labour candidate in Derby North,  a local activist who called himself JET on the social media group, wrote: "He MUST be reinstated otherwise we may as well hand over control of the Party to the Israeli lobby."

In an angry intervention the secretary of West Wirral constituency Labour Party wrote to the 115 members of the Margaret4WW WhatsApp group saying:"I hope you will all understand that it doesn't help Margaret if we don't focus on the manifesto and her excellent record."

But the CLP secretary, known as Gail, added that while two people had been removed from the group after being asked to stop posting messages regarding Mr Williamson: "We are not removing anyone for supporting Williamson.

"We have asked that this group focus on getting Margaret re-elected."

Further messages on the Whatsapp group had appeared to call for Ms Greenwood - who has been elected MP for West Wirral in 2015 and 2017 - to make her position clear.

But this sparked an instant reaction from another senior figure within West Wirral Labour Party who said: "Please can we keep Margaret out of this discussion.

"We need to fight this on our policies and Margaret's record as a brilliant constituency MP.

"I realise I'm in line for Grump of the day... but can we focus this group on getting Margaret re-elected please?"

But the argument continued to simmer with another West Wirral Labour member reacting furiously to a decision to remove JET from the group.

They wrote: "The administrators of this WhatsApp group should be ashamed of themselves removing a fantastic socialist like JET for the crime of supporting another superb socialist Chris Williamson.

"Tell Margaret I fully support her but if you delete JET you better delete me."

The same activist signed off their message:"First they came for the Socialists, then they..."

The JC was contacted by a Wirral West Labour member angry at  the continued failure to stamp out antisemitism within the local party.

Last year after former Labour MP Frank Field quit in the neighbouring Birkenhead seat, he blamed antisemitism and said Wirral Labour had been taken over by a "small group of hardline extremist”.

Ms Greenwood has been a staunch supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and was Shadow Secretary for Work and Pension last year.

In 2017 she won her seat with a 5, 365 majority.

Labour disbarred Mr Williamson from standing on Wednesday. He is contesting his seat as an independent.

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