Wednesday, 21 August 2019

North West TUC Boycott Peterloo Rally over Chris Williamson!

Rally in Albert Square - Photo: Mark Rowe/FB

Last Sunday more than 4000 people came to Albert Square, Manchester, to support the 'March for Democracy' which was organised to mark the 200 years since the Peterloo massacre on 16th August 1819. Many of the people who came to support the event had marched from surrounding towns such as Wigan and Bolton. The proposals of the March for Democracy, included the Chartists demand for annual parliaments and the abolition of the House of Lords.


Among the key speakers who addressed the rally, was Chris Williamson MP, the Member of Parliament for Derby North, who was suspended by the Labour Party, readmitted, and then suspended again, following complaints from the Board of Deputies of British Jews who called his readmission to the Labour Party "an utter disgrace." In June, Amanda Bowman, the Board of Deputies Vice President, said: 

"This is an utter disgrace. Despite years of baiting the Jewish community - calling antisemitism allegations 'proxy wars and bullshit', actively supporting people suspended and expelled from the party for antisemitism, attacking the Board of Deputies on the day of the Pittsburgh attack, and saying the Labour has been 'too apologetic' over antisemitism, Chris Williamson has reportedly been readmitted to the Labour Party. This is yet more damning evidence for the EHRC's inquiry into antisemitism in the Labour Party."

There are many people who feel quite sympathetic towards Chris Williamson. They believe that he, along with others, are the victims of a witch-hunt and that the charges of anti-Semitism are both spurious and aimed at supporters of Jeremy Corbyn. They argue that the term 'anti-Semitism has been 'weaponised' and is being used as a device to undermine political opponents and those who oppose Israel's policies towards the Palestinians. Likewise, they argue that merely expressing an opinion, however unpalatable one finds it, doesn't necessarily amount to anti-Semitism.

It wasn't altogether certain that Chris Williamson would be invited to address the rally on Sunday. Just over a week ago, Williamson was forced to address a crowd of supporters in Regency Square, Brighton, after an orchestrated and thuggish campaign led to bookings being cancelled at venues because staff claimed that they had received threatening and intimidating phone calls. Similar tactics have been deployed in other areas to stop Williamson having a platform.

Among those who wanted to stop Williamson speaking in Manchester on Sunday, was Steve Hall, the Chair of the Greater Manchester County Association of TUC's (GMATUC's). Last Wednesday, Hall told a meeting at the Friends Meeting House in Manchester, that though he didn't believe Williamson was an anti-Semite, his presence at the rally would be a distraction as the attention would be focused on him and not on the rally and the reasons for it. A majority at the meeting disagreed and Williamson was invited.

Two days later, Jay McKenna, Acting Regional Secretary of the North West TUC, wrote to the Secretary of GMATUC's Stefan Cholewka, informing him that the NW TUC would not be supporting the event because of the presence of Chris Williamson.  Although he didn't say why Williamson was objectionable, he wrote:

"the late addition of Chris Williamson to the speaking line up has raised concerns. It brings unnecessary attention and is diversionary from the event that we have agreed to support as a TUC... Given that there is no planned change to the line up, I am letting you know that the TUC North West will not be accepting our speaking lot and will be unable to support the event moving forward. We believe that the changes would have the potential to bring the TUC and others into disrepute... The event was an opportunity to commemorate an important anniversary in our movements history. This has unfortunately overshadowed that and risks damaging relationships between many in the region."

Unlike the Chair of the GMATUC's who appears to have toed the official line of the NW TUC regarding Chris Williamson, Stefan Cholewka, the Secretary of GMATUC's told McKenna:

"The fact that you cannot spell out clearly and articulately the reasons or give any explanation for your objection to Chris Williamson MP speaking, speaks volumes. The fact that you cannot even reference Chris Williamson in your letter as a Labour Member of Parliament is a disgrace. You also seem to think that you can override the democratic decision of the lead body across Greater Manchester that has been building this event over the last 18 months. Today is the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre and all you can do is send an email about a socialist MP speaking at a rally to remember the dead and murdered working-class victims by the state. Your place in history is assured as the writer of the most irrelevant letter of 2014."

The Peterloo march and rally that took place on Sunday to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre in August 1812, was billed as the 'March for Democracy'. Yet if democracy means anything, then it means the right to Freedom of speech and freedom of expression which is understood to be fundamental in any  democracy. The attempt to 'No Platform' Chris Williamson, to deny him a platform to speak at the Peterloo rally, is the sort of filthy censorship that is becoming all too commonplace  in today's Britain.

Helen Steel, the activist who with Dave Morris, took on the Corporate giant McDonald's  in the now famous McLibel trial, was recently chucked off a mass trespass on the moors because she was told that others felt 'unsafe' to be close to someone with her views. Ms Steel has been attacked because she has expressed the view that to be of the female sex is a question of 'basic biology' and that to self-identify as a woman is not the same as being born a woman. The  feminist Germaine Greer, has been 'No-Platformed by university students for expressing similar views.

Similarly, people who are criticise Israel as a 'racist endeavour' and an apartheid state or speak out against the murder of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators, are now accused of anti-Semitism.  In the summer of 2018, the Board of Deputies supported the massacre of over 200 unarmed demonstrators in Gaza and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has stated that Israel is not a country of all its citizens but a nation-state of the Jewish nation.

It is well documented that the state of Israel as a foreign power does meddle in British politics. Two years ago, Al Jazeera's programme 'The Lobby', revealed how an agent operating out of the Israeli Embassy in London, had discussed how to bring down Sir Alan Duncan, the then Deputy Foreign Secretary, because he had supported Palestinian statehood and had compared Israeli attitudes towards the Palestinians as akin to apartheid in South Africa. Alan Duncan is not the only politician the Zionist want to bring down, Jeremy Corbyn is also on the list and Chris Williamson.

If one does believe in democracy then you must believe in the right of free speech. What we are seeing today in Britain with bans, proscriptions, and politically correct censorship mainly by the life-style left, and social liberals, is a form of creeping and subtle totalitarianism that must be resisted. The Labouring classes who attended the rally in St Peter's Field, Manchester in August 1819, would have recognised this only too well, unlike some of today's trade unionists.
Dear
Stefan and Step
hen
I am writing to you regarding the Peterloo March & Rally taking place in Manchester this
Sunday.
When our annual
conference passed the GMATUC motion in March, calling for support
for th
e event, ourselves and our regional council were looking forward to working
together to have an inclusive and important commemorative event. That has been
evident in the support, finan
cial and physical, from ourselves and affiliates.
However, the late add
ition of Chris Williamson to the speaking line up has raised
concerns. It brings unnecessary attention and is diversionary from the event that we
have agreed to support as a TUC.
I’v
e contacted you a number omes this week, to express these concerns
nd seek a
change. I’ve said that if the speaking line up remains as it is, then we would have to
consider our support. I understand that affiliate unions in the region have done simila
r.
Given that there is no planned change to the line
-
up, I am letting y
ou know that the TUC
North West will not be accepting our speaking slot and will be unable to support the
event moving forward. We believe that the changes would have the potential to
bring
the TUC and others into disrepute.
Dear
Stefan and Step
hen
I am writing to you regarding the Peterloo March & Rally taking place in Manchester this
Sunday.
When our annual
conference passed the GMATUC motion in March, calling for support
for th
e event, ourselves and our regional council were looking forward to working
together to have an inclusive and important commemorative event. That has been
evident in the support, finan
cial and physical, from ourselves and affiliates.
However, the late add
ition of Chris Williamson to the speaking line up has raised
concerns. It brings unnecessary attention and is diversionary from the event that we
have agreed to support as a TUC.
I’v
e contacted you a numbesss
nd seek a
change. I’ve said that if the speaking line up remains as it is, then we would have to
consider our support. I understand that affiliate unions in the region have done simila
r.
Given that there is no planned change to the line
-
up, I am letting y
ou know that the TUC
North West will not be accepting our speaking slot and will be unable to support the
event moving forward. We believe that the Ichanges would have the potential to
bring
the TUC and others into disrepute.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Peterloo Bi-Centenary March and Rally - Sunday 18 August 2019



On Sunday 18th August the Peterloo Commemorative March and Rally will take place.  This will be the bi-centennial of the Peterloo massacre, one of the most significant events of the labour movements struggle both politically and industrially. 
Marches are taking place from ten points around the Greater Manchester and Lancashire areas recreating the marches that took place in 1819.

If you are up to marching the full distance from Bolton to Albert Square, Manchester, in the footsteps of those who marched in 1819 then here is the itinerary of this year's commemorative March from Bolton Socialist Club.

8.30 am
Leave from Bolton Socialist Club Wood Street. 
9.45 am ( 3.6 miles)  
Moss Rose pub at Kearsley. 
10.50 am (7.1 miles)
Henry Boddinton pub at Swinton.
11.50 (9.7 miles)
Salford Crescent Station.
12.50pm  (11.4 miles)
Arrive Albert Square, Manchester.
1.00 pm - Commemoration begins



The event is Family Friendly. 
If you are interested, people can join at any of the stopping points indicated in bold.  I would be grateful if people could let the organisers know in advance if you intend to join the march by texting 08756 466 070, or by emailing: chris_chilton@hotmail.com.  
Details of the gathering points can also be found at http://www.peterloodemocracy.com/map-of-march/4594637561