Jewish student leader quits Labour in disgust after MP Chris Williamson is invited to campus

The MP has 'repeatedly defended, and shared platforms with, antisemites expelled from the Labour Party,' the Jsoc says


UPDATE: Labour students u-turn on controversial MP's invite

The co-chair of the University of Sheffield's Jsoc has quit Labour after its local student group dismissed a plea not to invite controversial pro-Corbyn MP Chris Williamson to campus.

The Jsoc said inviting Mr Williamson, whom they accused of "repeatedly defended, and shared platforms with, antisemites expelled from the Labour Party", would be “a betrayal of Jewish students in Sheffield”.

When Sheffield Labour Students voted to proceed with next week's event, co-chair of the Sheffield and Hallam Jsoc Gabe Milne tweeted it was the "final straw".

"I can't in good conscience remain in the Labour party and be able to look the people I represent in the eye," he said.

The Jsoc had urged Sheffield Labour Students (SLS) to rescind an invitation to Mr Williamson, who will speak at a November 8 event alongside the Stop the War group about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen.

The Jsoc noted that, straight after the Pittsburgh shooting left 11 Jewish people dead - "when our community was at its most vulnerable" - Mr Williamson was tweeting an attack on the Board of Deputies.

"He only retweeted condolences from Jeremy Corbyn hours later after outrage against him. He has called antisemitism allegations in the Labour Party ‘proxy wars and bullsh*t’," the Jsoc added.

The SLS voted to proceed with the event in a committee meeting held on Tuesday.

According to minutes of the meeting, seen by the JC, one committee member said that “other Labour MPs (have) also spoken at events with people who are controversial, eg. Clive Lewis, Jeremy Corbyn - do we not invite them?”

Other members said that it wouldn’t “look good” to rescind the invitation.

One added Mr Williamson was "part of our movement” and that not hosting him now would be “embarrassing... rejecting the support we get from people in our movement on basis of no evidence will be damaging.”

The Jsoc said that it “strongly condemned” the SLS’s decision, saying: “We as a committee believe that Chris Williamson’s actions have encouraged a culture of antisemitism.

“As such, any society inviting him onto campus, for any reason, is a betrayal of Jewish students in Sheffield and the Jewish community as a whole.”

Daniel Kosky, campaigns organiser for the Union of Jewish Students, said: “We are deeply concerned [SLS has] decided to ignore the concerns of Jewish students on campus... 

He said the invitiation "shows a total disregard to the legitimate concerns that the Jewish community have raised over antisemitism in the Labour Party.

"It sends a strong message that antisemitism, and those that deny it, will be tolerated in a movement which claims to be anti-racist.”

Earlier this year, Mr Williamson defended former Labour member Scott Nelson, who was expelled from the party after tweeting about “Jewish companies” with “Jewish blood…exploiting workers abroad.”

After initially denying that Mr Nelson had made such comments, describing them as “smears” but then said Mr Nelson “repeatedly apologised for those comments. He is opposed to all forms of racism and bigotry… please give him a chance.”

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