University Labour clubs announce campaigning boycott of local party over Chris Williamson invitation

'We will no longer be campaigning for that CLP... until he is uninvited and an apology issued'


Labour clubs at three London universities have said they will not campaign for the local Labour party because it invited a controversial MP, with a history of ignoring and denying antisemitism within the party, to speak.

The Labour student societies at University College London, Birkbeck and the London School of Economics tweeted on Wednesday evening that, because Westminster Constituency Labour party had invited Chris Williamson to speak, “we will no longer be campaigning for that CLP and we urge other Labour clubs to do the same until he is uninvited and an apology issued.”

The MP for Derby North has defended people within Labour who have made problematic statements about Jewish people.

Earlier this year, he defended Scott Nelson, who was expelled from the party after tweeting about “workers abroad being exploited” by “Jewish companies” with “Jewish blood”.

Mr Williamson originally dismissed the charges against Mr Nelson as “smears” when a Twitter follower told him about them.

When shown the evidence, the MP then said: “[Mr Nelson] has repeatedly apologised for those comments. He is opposed to all forms of racism and bigotry… please give him a chance.”

Mr Williamson has also defended Jackie Walker, who claimed that “many Jews… were chief financiers of the slave trade”, and publicly supported Pete Willsman, a senior member of the party, after the JC published a recording of him ranting about how Jewish people were "Trump fanatics and all the rest of it" at a Labour NEC meeting.

In August, the Jewish Labour Movement wrote to Labour’s Chief Whip, Nick Brown, as well as Labour’s General Secretary, Jennie Formby, asking they withdraw the whip from Mr Williamson because he was “repeatedly sharing platforms with expelled and suspended members of the Labour party, claiming those speaking out on antisemitism within our party were Tories in disguise, and regularly denying that antisemitism exists within Labour.”

Liron Velleman, the JLM's Youth and Students officer, said it was “really important and heartening to see… Labour clubs standing alongside their Jewish comrades and taking action when others in the movement are failing to do so.

“JLM youth and students call on Cities of London and Westminster CLP to listen to young members, quickly change their tune, cancel the event and apologise for inviting Chris Williamson.”

Another Labour University society at Kings College London, had also tweeted the same message as the Labour student groups at UCL, Birkbeck and LSE, but subsequently removed the first tweet, issuing what they called a “correction”.

It read: “Whilst there may be issues surrounding Williamson, this tweet does not represent the society or committee in any way & wasn't agreed to."

They said they would campaign for Steven Saxby, Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate in Westminster, whom they called "a wonderful future MP and KCL student".

"We apologise to anyone impacted,” they added.

Mr Williamson has been approached for comment.

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