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Jewish Voice for Labour's statement on Tom Watson, Chris Williamson and Ian Austin

JEREMY CORBYN’S characteristically generous letter to Tom Watson marks the end of a turbulent relationship between the deputy leader and the Labour Party’s twice massively acclaimed popular leader, as well as a huge majority of the party.

It is fair to say that Watson steadily worked himself into an impossible position in the party: in September 2016 he proposed a draconian rule change for the election of the leader (to place selection entirely with the Parliamentary Labour Party) which would have ensured Corbyn’s deselection.

In an open letter to Watson in July this year general secretary Jennie Formbywrote: “You are complicit in creating a perception that anti-semitism is more prevalent in the Labour Party than wider society. This is deeply irresponsible for the deputy leader of a party which seeks to be in government.”

Whilst welcoming Watson’s statement that he will continue to support Labour during the campaign, for members who are committed to the party’s transformative programme, and who are now having to confront his denigration of the party leader on the doorstep, his exit has been long awaited.

Resigning from the party is Chris Williamson, a direct casualty of the attack on the left spearheaded, amongst others, by Watson. As a principled socialist and prominent Corbyn supporter, Williamson was targeted by the right within the party and Labour’s enemies outside, in alliance with those who define as anti-semitism support for the Palestinians’ fight against their oppression.

We knew that another onslaught by this coalition was coming; it was launched by Ian Austin’s acrimonious attack on Corbyn and his extraordinary exhortation to vote for Boris Johnson. Not unsurprising as Austin left Labour nine months ago to be appointed as a Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy to Israel.

Having been denied the opportunity to fight for re-election to his seat in Derby North, Chris Williamson faces an impossible choice: allow his parliamentary career to be cut short after decades of dedication to the Labour cause, or resign to campaign as an independent.

We wanted Chris to stay in the party so that we can continue to campaign for his reinstatement as a valued member, and we are disappointed that he has decided to stand as an independent.

Glyn Secker is Jewish Voice for Labour secretary.


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