Labour student clubs boycott Westminster CLP over Chris Williamson invitation

Sienna Rodgers

Labour clubs in London are boycotting Westminster constituency Labour party over its decision to invite Chris Williamson as a speaker.

The societies have vowed to stop campaigning in the key target seat, where Labour candidate Steven Saxby hopes to beat Tory incumbent Mark Field at the next election, unless the invitation is withdrawn and an apology offered by the CLP.

UCL Labour and Birkbeck Labour have both issued statements describing Corbynite Labour MP Chris Williamson as an “anti-Semite”, and concluding: “Anti-Semitism has no place within the Labour Party.”

UCL Labour held a campaign day for Saxby as recently as 3rd November, but the club is now hoping other societies will follow their lead in boycotting the campaigning activities of Westminster CLP.

4.10pm update: LSE Labour, the biggest Labour club in London, and King’s College London Labour Society have now joined the boycott.

Labour members in the Cities of London and Westminster received notification last night that the next all-member meeting on Tuesday 27th November will feature “Chris Williamson MP presentation followed by Q&A” as the first agenda item.

Chris Williamson has been criticised by Jewish groups and activists for sharing platforms with expelled Labour members such as Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker.

The MP also controversially urged party members to vote for Pete Willsman in the national executive committee (NEC) elections, despite Momentum dropping its support for the candidate after a leaked recording revealed he had denied the existence of antisemitism within Labour.

Update, 10.30pm: KCL Labour has tweeted a correction, clarifying that the society will not stop campaigning for Steven Saxby. LabourList understands that a single committee member posted the original tweet without approval from the whole executive committee.

A KCL Labour source said: “We condemn Chris Williamson’s behaviour on denying antisemitism… but we won’t be boycotting any CLP or PPC that has nothing to do with him.”

Update, 27th November: A meeting between student groups, the CLP and the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) was organised last night by Westminster Labour president Patrick Jenkins and London Labour students coordinator Zainab Mohammed.

London Labour Students have today released a joint statement with Labour clubs at UCL, Westminster, Birkbeck, Imperial and LSE to “condemn” Westminster CLP’s Chris Williamson invitation.

“We’re disappointed that neither the prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC), nor a single member of the large CLP executive committee, attended a meeting to air our concerns,” the statement reads.

The meeting is set to go ahead tonight as planned, with Chris Williamson featuring as a speaker.

Steve Saxby and Chris Williamson have been contacted for comment.

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