Camden group criticises Momentum over ‘new McCarthyism’ response

Camden Momentum, which severely criticised its national body for its behaviour after the leaked Willsman recording, has written a new open letter to the national organisation, condemning the ‘new McCarthyism’ it feels is driving criticism of suspended MP Chris Williamson:

In Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, the innocent Giles Corey is pressed to death by a large stone. As the stone is placed upon his chest, it is reported that Corey heroically calls for ‘more weight’ in order to make abundantly clear that he won’t admit any guilt in the face of spurious accusations that he had aided and abetted witchcraft.

Miller’s play is an allegory about McCarthyism. David Hearst, the Guardian’s former chief foreign leader writer, is surely right to say that the new McCarthyism is being mobilised to undermine Jeremy Corbyn [1]. And now the witchhunt has claimed its latest victim in Chris Williamson, MP for Derby North.

This represents a clear and unprecedented escalation in the campaign of vilification and smears against Labour’s leadership and left-wing members. In truly Orwellian fashion, this latest ratcheting up of the smear campaign was set on foot because someone in Williamson’s office had booked a room for a parliamentary screening of Jon Pullman’s documentary film WitchHunt (endorsed by Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Peter Kosminsky and Prof. Avi Shlaim). None of those MPs and others who complained against the screening can yet have seen the film, and yet they are willing to censor it.

The confected complaint made against Williamson concerns a speech he made at a meeting of Sheffield Momentum. Nothing about that speech deserves the suspension of the Labour whip, let alone suspension from the party. Jewish Voice for Labour have rightly pointed out that Williamson’s suspension is unjust and have called for it to be rescinded [2]. Camden Momentum adds its voice to that call.

We also call upon Momentum’s NCG to release a statement arguing for Williamson’s immediate reinstatement, and we invite other Momentum groups to do likewise by contacting us here: camdenmomentum@gmail.com.

If it is not yet clear to Momentum’s leadership (and associated ‘left’ commentators) that the attacks on Chris Williamson are part of a long-running and coordinated attempt to undermine Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, then we fear it never will be. We simply say: more weight.

[1] https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/truth-about-seumas-milne-jeremy-corbyn-and-new-mccarthyism
[2] https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/blog/chris-williamson/

Momentum was contacted for comment.

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  1. Well done Camden Momentum.I hope I am wrong ,but I fear you call will fall on deaf ears,as far as the owner of Momentum is concerned.Hopefully other local groups will join you in your attempt.”More Weight” is the call from all of us.

  2. It’s all turned inside out. People like Milne and Williamson are being hounded by the likes of an MP who’s a “special protect” asset for a foreign government. The real shake up should be of those who serve two masters.

    1. But we’re not allowed to say that now are we?

      That’ll get you burned at the stake…

  3. By posting this (which is very welcome), are you suggesting that this is one of the battles that us Lefties SHOULD choose after all, Skwawky?

    (You seemed to be suggesting otherwise in yesterday’s rather cryptic post on the matter, so acknowledging a change of heart would be appreciated by many, I’m sure…)

  4. Thank goodness somebody is calling this out for what it is, a coup. The silver lining is that the whole exercise is out of touch with ordinary people who simply do t believe it.

  5. It really is time that Momentum and its board of directors or its leadership Lansman etc put themselves up for proper election to the membership of momentum
    I feel that it’s lost its way and is not fully representative of the left wing as it once was , as far as I can see .
    Especially with the support for Chris Williamson suspension it’s not on along wirh thecsell out of Jackie Walker and Peye Willsman.It needs new Leadership.

    1. Yesterday Momentum sent out a very patronising video about debunking conspiracy theories which apparently relied on, implicitly and covertly (!), the Jews being responsible. We were being fooled by anti-semites and many of us are so stupid we won’t even notice say Momentum. Very disappointing. Nobbled.

      1. That is the fight we need to take, the mother of them all, freedom of speech. Comon labour, step up, your organisation, let alone your revolution is doomed to fail if the front line activists are unable to speak their voice to defend from external attacks without being pushed under the bus. And then don’t complain when they finally come for you again (the leadership) that would only be logical. I’m proud of this momentum group (though i think real activists should free themselves from this corrupts and undemocratic vessel and start their own)

      2. I suppose if you don’t agree with Lansman (the owner of Momentum) that the LP has a “major problem with anti-Semitism” you are a conspiracy theorist, gullible or plain stupid… they are really turning the screws to silence people questioning the current political, financial and economic order and get rid of Corbyn.
        That video is embarrassing and makes LP members and supporters out to be gullible fools. Well I suppose if you want rid of a twice elected leader who is committed to justice at home and abroad you would want to paint his support base as gullible fools.

      3. antoine1982thariax 01/03/2019 at 2:33 pm ·

        “That is the fight we need to take, the mother of them all, freedom of speech. Comon labour, step up, your organisation, let alone your revolution is doomed to fail if the front line activists are unable to speak their voice to defend from external attacks without being pushed under the bus.”

        Well said!

        As you mention free speech I note Gregory Sharkey is organising more ‘Imperialism on trial’ events this year. The first on 29th March at the Guildhall Derry. Hopefully there will be UK mainland venues to come. I’ll post a links to last years event at Derry in another comment for a taster. ‘Fake news’ is the central theme of this event.

      4. I have to disagree. I am concerned with Lansmann’s comments about “widespread antisemitism” in the party, undermining the efforts of the leadership to show progress has been made. However, there is still denial amongst the membership about what AS consists of, and the lack of understanding of how conspiracy theories work is one of our weakest points. Constant references to the Rothschilds and Jewish money IS antisemitism. Its clear some people just don’t get that.

      5. Absolutely spot on in your comment about the Momentum video being “patronising”, with the spokesperson talking down to us all as if we were intellectually challenged five-year-olds.

        The central proposition of this baleful production seemed to be that as socialists we are not allowed to criticise certain capitalists, such as the Rothschilds or George Soros because they were/are Jewish. If we do, it is inevitably, and seemingly axiomatically, anti-Semitic! What balderdash! So presumably its OK to lambast the Mellon banking family because they are of Irish Catholic descent, or Jeff Bezos. Great!

        Momentum seems to have veered dangerously to the right and towards the camp of the political witch-hunters since Landsman took over. He seems to be anti-democratic in his style and determined to censor free speech on many issues, particularly Palestine/Israel. I’m really glad that Camden Momentum has the guts and principle to break free of his grasping control and come out in support of Chris Williamson and against the new McCarthyism. I was planning to leave in disgust, but the Camden members have given me some hope that the organisation can yet be rescued.

      6. I am tired of telling people about this crowd. I remain surprised that people are surprised. Regards

    2. I left Momentum because it does not seem to be democratic. A shame because it does good work at rank and file level.

    3. If they get rid of the self serving Lansman & Momentun reverts back to its original principles of getting JC elected into No 10… then I will gladly resume my membership, until then I will continue to let everyone know that Lansman is a danger to the Labour Party.

  6. I don’t quite know why people still bother with Momentum after the Lansman coup of a few years ago.

    It seems a top-down organisation which uses its members as canvassing-fodder. This is far from the vision of a democratic Labour Left and a democratic Labour Party which the Left surely ought to be pursuing.

  7. i say it’s time people left labour to the blairites all 5% of them.. start a new party with people who want to be there

    1. No Jenny this is what they would love, stay and fight – we are the many, they are the few!
      They want the Labour brand.
      And it is now more socialist.
      It is they who are not real socialists who need to leave a stage, a stage on which they have never belonged.
      And remember, McCarthy was a Barbarian!

  8. Well done Camden Momentum and I note you are still using the original logo which I personally much prefer. As an outsider I noticed a change in Momentum when the logo changed… coincidence?

  9. Camden Momentum you are right on top of this, great stuff. I will be asking my Bexley Momentum chair to send our support if our members agree

  10. It is sad that Momentum in general has become a tool of the McCarthy squad. It really does need to distance itself from Lansman and his (to put it kindly) confused loyalties. As others have said, the treatment of Jackie Walker and Pete Willsman was beyond the pale. Yesterday’s crude propaganda – reminiscent of the comic-book stuff of totalitarian regimes – was a massive fall from grace.

    I would hope that Camden sets a precedent for clearer thinking.

  11. The problem is the head of Momentum Lansman is now in the NEC which gives him even more power to get his agenda across. He is behind Jacky Walkers suspension and Pete Wislman dropping off the momentum recommendations ( which backfired as he was voted onto the NEC). The man is dangerous and out to undermine Corbyns leadership no matter how much he claims the opposite.

  12. I’m part of Bromley Momentum and we feel exactly the same as Camden and are disappointed with the stance Central Momentum have taken and the letter they are circulating about the issue. We feel Momentum needs to more democratic and not issue statements in our name that we don’t agree with or have no democratic control over. If Momentum does not become more democratic and run by its members I can see many members will leave.

  13. I unsubscribed from Momentum emails months ago – it’s turned sickly, bordering on consumptive.
    I desperately wish Labour would take responsibility itself for its public profile rather than leaving it to others, despite the great job done by Skwawkbox and others.
    The clunky, unwelcoming Labour website that even tumbleweed avoids should be buzzing with the best of what comes out of the pro-Left, pro-Corbyn blogs and the discussion groups that are at the moment spread all over the internet.
    One blog to rule them all etc.
    I’m not saying that’d put us all on the same page, or even that factionalism would be affected in any way – just that maybe more of us having a chance of keeping up with current thinking and being centrally moderated might turn the heat down a bit.
    And the website might not die of loneliness.

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