Jewish students at the University of Nottingham have called for a speaking invitation to Chris Williamson, the controversial MP for Derby North, to be withdrawn, citing the politician’s “history of Jew baiting.”
The university’s Centre for British Politics has invited Mr Williamson to speak on October 11, as part of a lecture series on “British Politics in Crisis”.
The MP, who is described in the centre’s programme as a “Corbyn cheer-leader” and “Labour MP for Derby North”, was in fact suspended from the party in February after video footage emerged of him telling a Sheffield Momentum meeting that Labour had been “too apologetic” regarding internal antisemitism.
In a joint statement from the Union of Jewish Students and the Nottingham Jewish Society, both organisations said they were “surprised by the wholly unacceptable decision.
“Williamson has been suspended by the Labour Party over antisemitism and has a consistent history of Jew-baiting and defending antisemitism.”
They said that while the MP had been invited to speak “to add a perspective of an individual who is an ally of Jeremy Corbyn, there are plenty of individuals the university could have invited who have not been suspended for antisemitism.”
The JC understands that these events will be chaired; students will be able to ask questions at the end.
“The University of Nottingham has a proud record of being a welcoming place for Jewish students,” the UJS and Nottingham Jsoc joint statement added.
“Decisions to host those suspended from their political parties over anti-Jewish racism are inappropriate, offensive and go against the very ideals of the university.
“We have contacted the university to express our concern and have called on the event to be cancelled immediately.”
A spokesperson for the university said that "while the university is committed to supporting the well-being of all students within our community, we also have a legal duty to ensure that lawful free speech should not be prevented on campus.”
They said that although the institution “does not in any way condone the actions and statements of Mr Williamson", they had "no reason to believe that he will break the law when speaking on our campus."
The Jewish Labour Movement described itself as "incredibly disappointed by the University of Nottingham’s decision", while the Board of Deputies described the invitation as "disgraceful" and the Derby North MP himself as "a wholly inappropriate speaker for any university.
"Universities must reject hate, not host it."