One of the most ludicrous lies that many on the Left have uncritically accepted about Chris Williamson is that he supposedly used to be a Blairite and, opportunistically, only began supporting Jeremy Corbyn when he won in 2015. Let’s unpack and dismantle that.
When Chris Williamson was leader of Derby City Council, during the New Labour years, he had the number plate on his car changed to ‘CCCP’ – people would refer to him as ‘Comrade Chris Champion of the Poor’.
Under his leadership, Derby City Council was the first local authority in the country to pass a motion against the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Furthermore, as leader of DCC, he gave the local tenants group the right of veto over the council’s Housing Committee reports and recommendations. He also established a Labour Group/ Trade Union Liaison Committee.
In his first parliamentary term (2010-15), Chris was a member of the Socialist Campaign Group. Jeremy Corbyn was one of his best friends. Referring to when Chris lost his seat in the 2015 election, Jeremy said it was, “the worst result of that night”.
Also in his first term, Chris forged a close relationship with the FBU. He even missed a vote in Parliament, which he was reprimanded for by the Chief Whip, as he was attending an important FBU event. He has always been committed to trade unions.
Before the 2015 election, Chris was one of 16 Labour MPs who signed an open letter to Ed Miliband, asking him to commit Labour to an anti-austerity platform, with public ownership of the railways and strengthened collective bargaining powers.
Chris supported Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign from day one, back when he was still a no-hoper. Chris attended rallies, and also shared a platform with Jeremy at one of them in Derby. Yes, he supported Jeremy *before* he won.
During the 2016 coup, when most “opportunists” were supporting Owen Smith, Chris stood behind Jeremy and played a vital role in the Derbyshire campaign, helping organise events and rallies. He also spoke in favour of Jeremy at several nomination meetings in the East Mids.
During the 2017 election, which everyone thought would destroy Labour, Chris made the marginal Derby North constituency a “test case for Corbynism”, and ran an openly left-wing, pro-Corbyn campaign – despite being advised this would lose him the seat a second time.
You can question parts of Chris Williamson’s record. He has openly said that he regrets some of his past decisions, particularly in his first term in Parliament. But making errors and having an imperfect record doesn’t make you a “Blairite opportunist”.
Source: Umaar Kazmi via Twitter