Chris Williamson Suspended From Labour Party

Chris Williamson, the Labour MP for Derby North, has been suspended from the party after allegations that he made antisemitic comments. Williamson, who has denied the allegations, will be suspended until investigations are completed.

Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the party, condemned the words used by Williamson, saying:

“Chris Williamson has produced a long-winded and heavily caveated apology. It is not good enough. If it was in my gift I would have removed the whip from him already.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews also condemned Williamson, saying:

“We reject Chris Williamson’s half-hearted apology, which appears in any case to have been written by someone else.”

Ian Austin MP Resigns From Labour Party

Ian Austin, the MP for Dudley North, has quit the Labour Party and said that he is “ashamed” of the party. Austin has represented the constituency since 2005 and won by a majority of just 22 votes in 2017.

“I grew up listening to my dad, who was a refugee from the Holocaust, teaching me about the evils of hatred and prejudice. One of the main reasons I joined the Labour Party as a teenager here in Dudley more than 35 years ago was to fight racism and I could never have believed I would be leaving the Labour party because of racism too.”

Tom Watson, the party’s deputy leader, said that the news was “a serious blow” to the Labour Party. Austin said that he didn’t intend to join the new Independent Group of 11 MPs, who had left the Conservative and Labour parties, due to a difference of opinion on Brexit.

Calls for Labour NEC Member Peter Willsman to Resign

There have been calls today for the resignation of Peter Willsman, a member of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC). Willsman, an ally of the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn, questioned whether claims of anti-semitism in the party actually existed. The recording was made privately and Willsman made an apology after being confronted with the audio.

Willsman said in a statement:

“Not all of what I said has been accurately reported. But I accept that what I did say, and the way I said it, fell short of the requirement, which I accept, for discussions of contentious issues to be conducted in a fully civil and respectful way. I deeply apologise for any offence caused to those present and those to whom my remarks were reported”.

Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, condemned Willsman and said on Twitter:

“For the avoidance of doubt: Peter Willsman is and always has been a loud mouthed bully. He disgusts me”.

Jennie Formby, the General Secretary of the Labour Party, has also been questioned as to whether she intervened following Willsman’s comments. The President of the Jewish Board of Deputies said on Twitter:

“Was Jennie Formby there to hear what was said? If yes, why did she let Willsman off so lightly?”

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, has yet to comment.

Labour’s Leader and Deputy Leader Clash Over Syrian Airstrikes

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, and Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, are at odds over whether to support the US’s military attack on Syria. The attack, which has been backed by the British Government, came in response to a chemical attack that the Syrian Government was alleged to have authorised.

Corbyn said in a statement:

“The US missile attack on a Syrian government air base risks escalating the war in Syria still further.

Tuesday’s horrific chemical attack was a war crime which requires urgent independent UN investigation and those responsible must be held to account. But unilateral military action without legal authorisation or independent verification risks intensifying a multi-sided conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands of people. What is needed instead is to urgently reconvene the Geneva peace talks and unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.

“The terrible suffering of the Syrian people must be brought to an end as soon as possible and every intervention must be judged on what contribution it makes to that outcome. The British government should urge restraint on the Trump administration and throw its weight behind peace negotiations and a comprehensive political settlement”.

Watson had earlier said that the US attacks were “direct and proportionate as chemical weapons attacks on civilians can never be tolerated and must have consequences”.

Labour Party Splits Over Decision Not to Expel Ken Livingstone

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, is under pressure today to comment on the decision of the party not to expel Ken Livingstone. The party’s disciplinary panel decided yesterday to suspend the former London Mayor for one year, despite Livingstone himself expecting to be expelled.

Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, issued a statement fiercely attacking the decision:

“I find it incomprehensible that our elected lay members on the disciplinary panel found Ken Livingstone guilty of such serious charges, and then concluded that he can remain a member of the Labour Party.

When I read the words of chief rabbi Mirvis, who says that ‘the Labour Party has failed the Jewish community, it has failed its members and it has failed all those who believe in zero tolerance of anti-semitism’, I can’t disagree with him. I wish I could, but I can’t. I am ashamed that we have allowed Mr Livingstone to cause such distress.

It isn’t just Jewish people who feel disgusted and offended by what Mr Livingstone said and by the way he has conducted himself over this matter, and it isn’t just Jewish Labour members who feel ashamed of any indulgence of his views anywhere in the Labour Party. This shames us all, and I’m deeply saddened by it.

Mr Livingstone’s unrepentant media appearances in recent days have continued to discredit the party I love. His current behaviour is still bringing the Labour Party into disrepute. It is hard not to conclude that his use of inflammatory language to dismiss the fully justified outrage of the Jewish community and others will incite further distortions of the Holocaust in our public discourse.

My party is not living up to its commitment to have a zero tolerance approach to anti-semitism. I will continue the fight to ensure that it does, and I will press my colleagues to do so too”.

Lord Levy, a Labour Peer and former special envoy to the Middle East, said:

“Do I stay in the party? It is something that I’m going to reflect on very seriously. I am very upset with the party’s attitude. I do not believe there has been a zero-tolerance policy towards antisemitism”.

Jon Ashworth, the Shadow Health Secretary, Barry Gardiner, the Shadow International Trade Secretary and Sir Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, have all today said that Livingstone should have been expelled.

 

Tom Watson Puts Down Rumours of Jeremy Corbyn Relaunch

Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, has denied rumours that there were plans to relaunch the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. The Guardian newspaper had reported earlier in the day that the senior Labour strategists intended to relaunch Corbyn to “ride the anti-establishment wave”.

Speaking on the BBC, Watson was asked about the relaunch of the Labour leader and he replied:

“That’s news to me if he’s being re-launched, it seems that he’s on a high trajectory in his own right does our Jeremy, so let’s see what the new year brings shall we?”.

Labour Leader and Deputy Leader Clash on Extreme-Left Wings Groups Infiltrating Labour

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Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, and Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, have clashed over allegations that the party has been infiltrated by Trotsky entrists.

Speaking in an interview with the Observer newspaper, Corbyn said:

“I just ask Tom to do the maths: 300,000 people have joined the Labour party – at no stage in anyone’s most vivid imagination are there 300,000 sectarian extremists at large in the country who have suddenly descended on the Labour party. Sorry Tom, it is nonsense – and I think he knows it’s nonsense. Let’s get on with campaigning, Tom. Thanks.

I just wish that members of the parliamentary Labour party, including Tom, would recognise that we have a very strong and very large party membership who joined for a reason. They want a different kind of society and a different kind of Britain. They want us to oppose austerity, they want us to oppose inequality, they want us to encourage investment and that kind of society that develops that includes all”.

Watson replied:

“I have never claimed that hundreds of thousands of new joiners are revolutionary socialists, and those who claim I did are attacking a straw man. I simply want to ensure that organisations like the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, who have instructed all their members to join the Labour party and target our youth sections for recruitment, are dealt with under our rules. It’s undeniable that this is happening. AWL even published these instructions on their website”.

Tom Watson, Labour’s Deputy Leader, to Talk to Trade Unions over party’s future

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Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, is to hold talks with trade unions in a bid to break the impasse on the future of Jeremy Corbyn, the party’s leader.

The BBC reported that Tom Watson has suggested that this is “the last throw of the dice” after MPs strongly backed a motion of no confidence in the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

Angela Eagle has also made clear this week that she will stand as a candidate for the party’s leadership to force the issue. That would mean that party members would need to vote for a new leader, a contest in which Jeremy Corbyn has said that he would stand again.

Harry Harpham, the Labour MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough has Died

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Harry Harpham, the Labour MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough has died at the age of 61. He was first elected to the House of Commons in May 2015 having been a former miner and then political agent to David Blunkett, the constituency’s former MP.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, said:

“The news of the death of Harry Harpham is extremely sad and I send my deepest condolences to his family. Harry was a proud socialist who had also been a proud miner.

To the very end he was fighting for working people in parliament. What a decent man he was and he will be sadly missed by all his friends in the Labour party”.

Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, said on Twitter:

“Deeply upset to learn of Harry Harpham’s death. Sheffield has lost a wonderful MP. My thoughts are with his family”.

Harpham had won his Sheffield constituency in May 2015 having been selected to contest the seat after David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary, announced that he was standing down. He won the constituency with a majority for Labour of 13,807 over UKIP’s John Booker who came second. He made his maiden speech in the House of Commons on 17 June 2015.

In a statement on the MP’s former Facebook page a party official said:

“Harry was elected as the MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough in May last year after serving Sheffield in many roles over the years, including as Deputy Leader of Sheffield Council. A former miner – maybe the final deep coal miner ever to enter parliament – Harry was fiercely proud of his union roots. He was an NUM man throughout the miners’ strike and stood firm for a full year at his Nottinghamshire pit even though many others crossed the picket line, something Harry would never have done. He put his background in energy to good use when he was promoted to the role of Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary.

Harry’s final contribution in parliament was just a fortnight ago. In typically blunt fashion he took the Prime Minister to task for ‘warm words, hand wringing and some crocodile tears’ when it came to local job losses at Forgemasters and the future of our city’s iconic steel industry. To the very last, he was passionate about Sheffield.

Harry leaves behind his wife Gill and children Annie, Kieron, Dan, Emily and Victoria who he loved unconditionally and was intensely proud of. He was also a doting granddad to his first grandchild Layla Grace.

A proud socialist who had campaigned against apartheid in his younger years, Harry will be greatly missed in Sheffield and in Westminster”.

Jeremy Corbyn criticised over reshuffle rumours

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Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has been criticised by a Labour MP following a series of briefings which have allegedly been made to journalists. A series of Daily Telegraph articles have suggested that Corbyn intends to remove internal critics in his party.

John McTernan, formerly the Director of Political Operations for Tony Blair, wrote:

“Labour MPs have been tolerant of Corbyn’s leadership – in my view too tolerant. But they have had a purpose, if not a strategy – let him make the first move. Not the first mistake, mind – there have been plenty of those – just the first move. Briefings in the papers have revealed that he is about to do that with a reshuffle of the Shadow Cabinet as soon as he comes back from holiday. The reason? Disloyalty. The occasion? The free vote on bombing Isil in Syria. Yes, that’s right, sackings and demotions are being planned as a punishment for voting freely in a free vote”.

Michael Dugher, the Shadow Culture Secretary, also said that attacks on the Government “have regrettably eclipsed by talk about a revenge reshuffle”.

Tom Watson, the party’s deputy leader, denied any knowledge of a reshuffle and said that it would be a matter for Jeremy Corbyn.