The disgraced former Labour MP, Chris Williamson, has published an unhinged conspiracy theory article and video claiming that “Zionists” and Campaign Against Antisemitism control the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in service to the Conservative Party.
Mr Williamson, who was suspended from the Labour Party several times before running as an Independent in the 2019 General Election and receiving so few votes that, extraordinarily for an incumbent MP, he lost his deposit, has been embroiled in controversy over comments about Jews, “Zionists” and antisemitism for a long time.
Mr Williamson claims in the article and video, titled “Unmasking the EHRC”, that “over the last few years, we’ve seen how the Commission’s lack of independence has led to its purpose being perverted in order to attack the British Left, Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters” and ludicrously asserts that “the number of antisemitism cases in the Labour Party are miniscule”.
In a more sinister vein, however, he claims that these cases “were clearly exaggerated as part of a pernicious smear campaign against Corbyn and his supporters”. Such comments are in line with Mr Williamson’s tradition of calling attempts to address antisemitism in the Labour Party “smears”, thereby accusing Jews of acting in bad faith when they complain about anti-Jewish racism.
Mr Williamson’s particular interest in the EHRC is due to the full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party launched by the independent body in May 2019 following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant. He believes that the EHRC has become part of the ‘smear campaign’, although he seems conflicted as to whether this is because it is staffed or manipulated by “racists” and “Zionists” or is simply doing the bidding of the Conservative Party.
Mr Williamson accuses the EHRC of racism and inappropriate closeness to the New Labour Government in its early years and now the Conservative Government. Both claims have been made in recent months by the far-left in a desperate attempt to undermine the EHRC in advance of its report on Labour antisemitism.
Mr Williamson describes the “so-called” Campaign Against Antisemitism as an “anti-Corbyn, pro-Israel outfit,” and claims that the EHRC was conflicted because its Chief Executive’s husband is a trustee of a charity which once made a donation to us. In order to buttress claims of a conspiracy, Mr Williamson claims that this donation was received in 2016, well into Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, implying that it was part of a concerted effort to target the Labour leader for partisan reasons. In reality, the donation was pledged and received in 2015 and was ring-fenced for a specific polling project that had already been carried out at the beginning of that year, months before the 2015 General Election and well before anyone, including Mr Williamson, could have imagined that Mr Corbyn would become leader of the Labour Party.
The donation was made because – hard as this may be for Mr Williamson to imagine – there are people who acknowledge that antisemitism exists in Britain, and because – doubtless even more incomprehensible to Mr Williamson – there are some people who want to tackle it. Sometimes reality is not as conspiratorial as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion might have people like Mr Williamson believe.
Perhaps if Mr Williamson had requested comment from us – as would be expected when someone is publishing controversial accusations – he would have learned this. But in the world of sinister conspiracy theories, evidence is an avoidable inconvenience.
The video and article are the product of the Campaign For Chris Williamson Limited, a company whose sole director is the conspiratorial Bristol University academic, David Miller. Dr Miller, who was suspended from the Labour Party before quitting, has been accused in the past of making Jewish students deeply uncomfortable, including after accusing the “Zionist movement” of being one of the “five pillars” of hatred of Muslims in a lecture.
Mr Williamson, seemingly under the tutelage of Dr Miller, seems to believe that there is a “Zionist movement” in which some Jewish organisations are “formal member[s]” and some are not. One would have to excavate the over-extended minds of Mr Williamson and Dr Miller to discover how an organisation is able to join this movement and what – other than supposedly controlling British politics and targeting Muslims – the movement does. While Mr Williamson’s offensive ignorance of the Jewish community is entirely unsurprising, Dr Miller parades his as academic research, and Bristol University appallingly continues to tolerate his doing so.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “Chris Williamson destroyed his political career by backing antisemites within the Labour Party and claiming that they were merely the victims of a ‘witch hunt’ which he likened to the oppression of East German citizens by the Stasi.
“Now, fearing that his apologism for and defence of antisemites is about to be fulsomely unmasked by the EHRC, he has launched this unhinged attack claiming that the EHRC is in fact run by a ‘Zionist’ conspiracy on behalf of the Conservative Party, even attacking our charity as we are the complainant in the EHRC’s investigation.
“This latest attack contains no interesting revelations about the EHRC, but it does open a fascinating window into the deranged conspiracy-theory-addled mind of Mr Williamson.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.