On Christmas Eve, Labour front-bencher Chris Williamson released his ‘Christmas message’.
It was a tongue-in-cheek affair. Williamson releases weekly video updates on goings-on at Westminster, but his Christmas edition was ‘green-screened’ to look as if it was filmed in Buckingham Palace. The video showed the MP signing Christmas cards to Dudley North MP Ian Austin next to a picture of Stephen Kinnock on his desk – and finished with a ‘shout-out’ to Austin.
Austin allegedly dislikes Williamson almost as much as he dislikes the SKWAWKBOX – and once attempted a confrontation with the Derby North MP that didn’t go well. The picture of Kinnock is a still from a BBC documentary that showed his less-than-thrilled expression when the ‘Corbyn surge’ wiped out Theresa May’s majority in June.
Predictably, right-wingers in and out of the Labour Party failed to see the joke.
Former MP Fiona MacTaggart rebelled against Corbyn when Labour was trying to defeat a nonsensical Osborne measure only a month into his leadership – and called for his resignation just over a month after that.
She failed to recognise the green-screened royal setting and considered Williamson’s gentle satire ‘threatening’ and claimed it’s ‘not who we are’:
To put Ms MacTaggart’s claim that it’s ‘not who we are’ in context, only a couple of days earlier she retweeted a tweet asking how – presumably – ‘centrists’ can ‘stomach staying in [the Labour] party’ under its current leadership. And misnaming the leadership:
Another ‘centrist’ also missed the point entirely and got even more irate:
Outside the Labour Party, a right-wing ‘reporter’ who works for one of the most odious Tory mouthpieces recognised the setting – but apparently not the satire:
Another former S*n employee also missed – or ignored – the humour in order to repeat the ‘threat’ nonsense:
While at lower levels of the Tory undergrowth, a councillor missed the joke entirely and thought that was how Williamson really writes his Christmas cards:
All in all, the right inside and outside the Labour Party didn’t cover itself in glory in its response to Williamson’s video.
It managed to miss the warmth of the appeal to Austin and others to get on board with the passion and vision of the movement that Labour is becoming – for the sake of something we can surely all want.
A “fairer, decent, compassionate country”.
Yes, the appeal was made with some gentle leg-pulling and perhaps in hope rather than expectation – but it was made.
In doing so, Williamson showed a generous side to his nature without any compromising of his commitment to ‘the project’ – and he did so with humour and style.
That his opponents and detractors chose to cast it as ‘threatening’ says a lot about them – but if even just a few would genuinely listen and get on board, it will be better for Labour and for the country.
If you missed the video and want to see it, you can do so here.
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