Chris Williamson: We may have lost parliament but support and solidarity can unite the left.

Chris Williamson: I resigned from Labour to spend more time fighting for socialism


If anyone thought the resignation of Jeremy Corbyn would see an end to the witch-hunt, the evidence of the last few months shows the opposite is happening.  If anything, it is actually intensifying, which is why I am relaunching the Left Legal Fighting Fund.  

The political situation on both sides of the Atlantic means that the prospects for electoral socialism have dimmed.  Fossilised old guard political party establishments – in Labour and the US Democrats – have stood in the way of the transformation that millions of people know we need.  Both the Corbyn and Sanders movements were struck down by the forces of reaction.   We warned that if they prevented our inevitable revolution, we would have to take the streets. 

The cold-blooded murder of George Floyd has stirred righteous anger in hundreds of millions of people around the world.  And just as in the 1960s, the movement for black liberation has proven to be at the vanguard of an epochal shift in world history.  The future we failed to win at the ballot box, our black brothers and sisters are leading us to on the streets.

The liberation of working-class peoples from capitalism and the liberation of our black and brown comrades from racial oppression do not merely intersect – they are one struggle.  Indeed, this was something the Black Panther Party recognised.  We cannot have one without the other.  One of the Panthers’ leaders, the inspirational Fred Hampton, said: We’re going to fight racism…with solidarity. We’re going to fight capitalism…with socialism”

Even though he was only 21 years old, he was deemed to be too influential by the US authorities because he was uniting communities in opposition to capitalism.  He was assassinated on 4 December 1969 by Chicago police and FBI officers as he slept in his bed during a pre-dawn raid on his apartment.  

Making that connection is important.  Subjugation, exploitation, racism and enslavement underpinned capitalism from the outset.  The monuments to slavery that we are toppling are also monuments to capitalism, an inherently exploitative system reliant on hierarchies of oppression and lust for empire-building.  The wealth of this nation was built on the backs of slaves and sepoys, so we cannot call for socialism or racial justice here while we keep Britain’s knee on the necks of the people of Yemen, Syria, Libya, Venezuela and Iran.

To achieve this revolution, we will need to fight on all fronts.  We will need our own media system, like Labour Heartlands, while taking the fight to the oligarch-owned press.  We will need a battle-ready street movement with coherent demands at the same time as nurturing parliamentary leaders.  But the road to parliamentary socialism is closed for now.  The demand for change is being led by street protests, leaving Sir Keir Starmer and his Labour Party allies playing catch up with cringeworthy photo opps.  I cannot see them standing up for black and Muslim communities in particular and working-class people in general.   

Sir Keir says he supports Zionism “without qualification,” even though UN resolution 3379, that was passed 45 years ago, declared that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.”  Furthermore, supporters of Zionism manufactured antisemitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn, his allies, and thousands of Labour members to crush the Corbyn project.   

Known as ‘lawfare’, the threat of legal action is often used to silence opposition.   In France and Germany, these racists have tried to criminalise pro-Palestinian activism and they are trying to do the same here.   Meanwhile, in the UK, the Israel lobby targeted prominent black anti-racism campaigners in the Labour Party, like Marc Wadsworth and Jackie Walker, falsely accusing them of antisemitism, forcing them out of the Party and tying them up in costly legal battles.  The attempts to normalise Zionism needs to be resisted by all anti-racists.  

For the thought-crime of defending Jackie, Marc and fellow anti-racists in the Labour Party, I was also targeted by the Israel lobby.  They created a media hysteria that led to my suspension from the Party.  But I was one of the lucky few.  Thanks to my public profile as a campaigning MP, and Jeremy Corbyn’s most loyal parliamentary ally, I received an outpouring of solidarity from thousands of activists and Party members.  We crowdfunded to appeal my suspension resulting in it being overturned by the High Court, and the judge ordered the Labour Party to pay my legal costs totalling £89,000.  But they concocted more allegations to maintain my suspension and prevent me contesting the 2019 election as a Labour candidate.

My intention in taking my case to the High Court was to set a precedent.  Racist institutions and the Israel lobby aren’t the only ones who can win legal battles.  The costs won from the Labour Party were used to create a Left Legal Fighting Fund, to take on any institution that pursues socialists, anti-Zionists, black and Muslim activists and those who fight for justice.  

Several activists have already been defended, but this is just the beginning.  More legal actions are ongoing, defending left-wing, pro-Palestine Labour Party members who have been targeted by a new witch hunt directed by the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) and Keir Starmer’s office.  In the last few weeks, we’ve heard about dozens of new suspensions and expulsions.  But the Left Legal Fighting Fund will help to lead the fightback.

Over the coming weeks, we will be working with some of the best human rights lawyers in the country to arrange teach-ins and legal support for protesters attending the Black Lives Matter rallies.  In particular in London, where the Metropolitan Police and Territorial Support Group have been unlawfully harassing and detaining protesters, using kettling tactics to acquire intelligence and intimidate activists.  

To do this, we need your ongoing support with financial and practical assistance.  If you are a solicitor or barrister with the relevant expertise and willing to help, get in touch.  If you can’t donate at the moment but support our work, sign up to our mailing list and spread the word.  If you have been suspended or expelled by the Labour Party, or harassed by the police while on a Black Lives Matter protest in recent weeks, we also want to hear from you.   

Our opponents have Parliament, but if we can build a mobilised and motivated grassroots movement, we will turn the tables and deliver Fred Hampton’s vision by defeating racism through solidarity and replacing capitalism with socialism. 

Contact us here: 

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