Labour’s high command has been urged by anti-racism campaigners to bar an MP suspended over anti-Semitism allegations from standing for the party in the general election.
The party’s national executive committee (NEC) was told that Chris Williamson’s “history of engaging with anti-Semites and dismissing concerns about anti-Semitism” runs “counter to the values” of Labour.
The NEC will rule at a crunch meeting next week whether to lift Williamson’s suspension from the party.
It will also decide whether Keith Vaz, who has been barred from the Commons after offering to buy cocaine for male prostitutes, and Stephen Hepburn, who has been suspended over sexual harassment allegations, should be reinstated for the December 12 election.
Hope Not Hate wrote to every member of the NEC to stress that Williamson, a friend of Jeremy Corbyn, had routinely downplayed anti-Semitism, supported figures like Ken Livingstone who have been kicked out of the party, promoted anti-Semites and “continually baited Jewish people”.
Nick Lowles, Hope Not Hate CEO, wrote: “It is also important to understand the context that surrounded Williamson’s initial suspension from the party.
“His claims that Labour had been ‘too apologetic’ for antisemitism, and had ‘given too much ground’ came just one week after a Jewish Labour MP had been forced out of the party by anti-Semitic attacks.
“At the same event, he claimed that he sang ‘Celebration’ when he heard the news that she had left.
“Hope Not Hate believes that Chris Williamson’s actions, and his continued refusal to accept his wrongdoing, run counter to the values of the Labour party.
“I urge the NEC to stand by the decision made previously – a decision that the Labour party has already spent thousands of pounds of members money defending in court – and refuse him the privilege of standing as a candidate for your party.
“Chris Williamson has no place in the Labour party.”
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The Derby North MP was suspended in February after he claimed that Labour had been “too apologetic” in response to criticism of its handling of anti-Semitism allegations.
He was readmitted to the party and issued with a formal warning following a hearing of a National Executive Committee (NEC) anti-Semitism panel in June – prompting an outcry from MPs, peers and Jewish groups.
But he was suspended again in July after a second panel reviewed the decision to reinstate him and found it “cannot safely stand”.
Labour also imposed a separate suspension on September 3 over additional allegations of misconduct.
Earlier this month he lost a High Court bid to be reinstated to the party.
Williamson has been contacted for comment.