Sheffield anti-war meeting with Chris Williamson MP to go ahead ‘despite anonymous threats’

Christopher Williamson MP.
Christopher Williamson MP.

An anti-war meeting in Sheffield which was cancelled due to anonymous threats will go ahead in a new venue.

‘Why we need an anti-war government’ – which will be addressed by Derby North MP Chris Williamson – will now take place in the Trades and Labour Club on Duke Street at 7.30pm tonight.

The event was originally organised by Sheffield Labour Students but they cancelled it after the Sheffield Jewish Society complained that the MP had ‘encouraged a culture of anti-semitism’.

Sheffield Labour Left then said they would host the meeting it at the Jury’s Inn Hotel in Sheffield instead, but that venue pulled out after they received ‘anonymous threats’.

However, after they approached the Sheffield TUC, they were happy to co-sponsor and host the event in a venue that they are co-tenants of.

Lee Rock from Sheffield Labour Left said they ‘totally rejected’ the allegations leveled against Mr Williamson. 

He said: “We are in full solidarity with Chris Williamson MP, one of the MPs who stands up for Jeremy Corbyn's policies. We don’t think he is anti-semitic or has enabled anti-semitism in any way.

“We believe it is very important to hold public debates without fear of censorship. We therefore decided to host this meeting at short notice instead.”

Lee said that he didn’t take the anonymous threats too seriously but understood the decision of the hotel to cancel the meeting out of concern for their guests.

Earlier this month, the Sheffield Jewish Society ‘strongly condemned’ the invitation of Chris Williamson onto campus by Sheffield Labour Students.

In a statement published on the organisation’s Facebook page, they said: “Williamson has repeatedly defended, and shared platforms with, anti-Semites expelled from the Labour Party and he has called antisemitism allegations in the Labour Party ‘proxy wars and bulls**t’.

“As such, any society inviting him onto campus, for any reason, is a betrayal of Jewish students in Sheffield and the Jewish community as a whole.”

Sheffield Labour Left was founded in October 2017 to organise Labour Party members in Sheffield who support the direction the party is moving under Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

They say they campaign openly for socialism, oppose racism, anti-Semitism and Zionism and oppose all expulsions and exclusions targeting the left.

They added they welcomed in their ranks those ‘unfairly expelled’ from the Labour Party as part of the ‘witch-hunt’.