‘A caring individual’ – Chris Williamson

forty-four quotes by and about
Chris Williamson
born 1956
leader, Derby City Council 2002–03, 2005–08
Labour MP for Derby North 2010–15, 2017–
shadow fire minister, 2017–18

‘Mr Chris Williamson of the Hunt Saboteurs’ Association has been bound over by magistrates after a broadcast he made on Radio Derby about his association’s plans to sabotage grouse shooting … “This decision means I cannot take part in any direct action,” he added. “I am extremely annoyed.”’ – Guardian (1979) [i]

‘Chris Williamson, a Derby-based Labour councillor, has been chairman [of the League Against Cruel Sports] for ten years, but his style has increasingly angered some members of his twelve-strong executive committee. They object to what they see as his “dictatorial” style and claim that resulting divisions have demoralised staff, making it difficult to get on with the job of hunting the hunters … Mr Williamson denies involvement in telephone-taping or being a dictator.’ – Independent (1994) [ii]

‘Angry scenes erupted at the League [Against Cruel Sports]’s annual general meeting last, which was told that chairman Christopher Williams [sic] had been thrown out of office in a ballot … Outgoing chairman Chris Williams [sic] told the hall that he had lost his position due to a “smear campaign”… The ballot for chairman had followed accusations that Mr Williamson had used “Big Brother” tactics in a bid to hang on to control. His opponents claim he tried to load the league’s committee with Labour supporters, arranged meetings so that opponents found it difficult to attend, and altered draft minutes which he believed were an unfair record.’ – Mail on Sunday (1994) [iii]

‘What he has said beggars belief. I regard it as treachery. Sadly he has to go. If he doesn’t, then we will see the league’s active membership – its backbone – resigning in their droves.’ – Chris Williamson on Jim Barrington, leader of the League Against Cruel Sports (1995) [iv]

‘We were fighting the campaign against the most hostile, vituperative media coverage of the Labour Party I have seen and we have paid the price.’ – Chris Williamson, on Labour losing majority control of Derby City Council (2006) [v]

‘The Liberal Democrats were today celebrating becoming the largest party on Derby City Council after a night of spectacular gains … Labour leader Chris Williamson said that his party would have to take stock of the election results before deciding whether or not to renew the pact with the Tories.’ – Derby Evening Telegraph (2008) [vi]

‘Apart from being skilled in debate, Mr Williamson’s strength is in his long-held conviction that Derby is a Labour city – just as Derbyshire is a Labour county, with eight MPs out of the present ten.’ – Derby Evening Telegraph (2008) [vii]

‘A former council leader, Labour’s Chris Williamson, was among those in favour of a higher allowance – pointing out that a fairer salary would attract younger people to politics. “There are very few young people able to give the time to become elected members,” he said.’ – Derby Evening Telegraph (2009) [viii]

‘This is a great result for Labour and the people of Derby. It shows it’s not the broken Britain or broken Derby David Cameron spoke about. This is the proudest moment in my political life.’ – Chris Williamson, on overturning a 41-vote Conservative majority in Derby North (2010) [ix]

‘I cannot believe that I accused the Honourable Gentleman of anything because I had absolutely no idea who he was.’ – David Cameron refuses to apologize for allegedly misquoting Chris Williamson (2011) [x]

‘Chris Williamson is among seventeen MPs who have signed a letter calling for an immediate arms embargo on Israel following its weeks of strikes on Gaza.’ – Derby Telegraph (2014) [xi]

‘If we follow the lessons of Venezuela, we can fulfil the dreams of the many in the UK.’ – Chris Williamson (2014) [xii]

‘The left-winger [Williamson] also criticised the US’s “very shady record”. And he declined to say if his own politics were closer to Tony Blair or Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chavez and embattled successor Nicolas Maduro, saying it was “irrelevant”.’ – Daily Mirror (2017) [xiii]

‘It is perhaps understandable that Labour’s political enemies use Venezuela’s difficulties to make mischief, but it is frustrating to see the dwindling band of New Labour neocons doing likewise.’ – Chris Williamson (2017) [xiv]

‘Too much blood has already been spilt in Iraq and Afghanistan to vote for action that could ultimately see young British service men and women being deployed in another ill-fated military adventure.’ – Chris Williamson, on why he didn’t support British action in Syria (2013) [xv]

‘I’d love to go back to the 1970s because in the 1970s average economic growth was significantly higher.’ – Chris Williamson (2014) [xvi]

‘Why is it the Tories never take responsibility for the consequences of their party’s disastrous policies?’ – Chris Williamson, on the Tottenham riot (2011) [xvii]

‘It would be worth consulting about it [women-only railway carriages]. I’m not saying it has to happen, but it may create a safe space. It would be a matter of personal choice whether someone wanted to make use of it.’ – Chris Williamson (2017) [xviii]

‘The fact is, the popularity of social media means the days are already numbered for the right-wing press. These obscene lies are nothing but the cries of an establishment in its death throes. It’s now time to turn the conversation towards how we independently regulate the press to limit the influence of media monopolies on public debate.’ – Chris Williamson (2018) [xix]

‘The LibDems have facilitated the most vicious rightwing government since WW2. Let’s vote these collaborators out of office.’ – Chris Williamson (2013) [xx]

‘Chris Williamson has demanded a “fulsome apology” from Alan Sugar who tweeted a picture of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in a car alongside Adolf Hitler.’ – Derby Telegraph (2018) [xxi]

‘The use of Hitler/Nazi comparators is demeaning, unwarranted and dangerous.’ – Chris Williamson (2018) [xxii]

‘I felt fear. All I could see was blackness. All I could think was, “Oh my God — how am I going to keep a roof over my head? How am I going to manage?” It was the worst experience I have ever had in my life – the only thing that compares to it is when my late wife passed away. I had been an elected member for twenty-five years, in local government, then parliament. I went from being a somebody to a nobody.’ – Chris Williamson, on losing his seat (2015) [xxiii]

‘That was the worst result of that night for me. Chris Williamson is a very great friend of mine. It was a shock actually.’ – Jeremy Corbyn, on Williamson losing his seat (2016) [xxiv]

‘He’s a breath of fresh air – a straight talker who gives straight answers. He’s putting forward solutions people are desperate to see.’ – Chris Williamson, on Jeremy Corbyn (2015) [xxv]

‘We lost our way a bit over the last twenty years or so.’ – Chris Williamson, on the Labour Party (2016) [xxvi]

‘Williamson is a former bricklayer and leader of Derby City Council, who was MP for Derby North from 2010 to 2015. He won back the marginal seat in the 2017 general election after standing on proudly pro-Corbyn platform. During the campaign, he argued that “Jeremy Corbyn has given Labour back its true values and our fighting spirit” and called his fight for the seat “a test case for Corbyn’s politics”.’ – Total Politics (2017) [xxvii]


‘People join the Labour Party because they are caring individuals. They want to stand up for the weak and underprivileged … They are not the sort of people that indulge in intimidation and violence.’ – Chris Williamson (2017) [xxviii]

‘The attempted coup by certain members of the Parliamentary Labour Party is an affront to democracy. We are in a state of civil war, it’s very regrettable. It’s a civil war the membership is determined to win.’ – Chris Williamson (2016) [xxix]

‘No MP should be guaranteed a job for life and it’s crucial that we all get with the times. Yes Labour is a big church, but we currently have a large bulk of MPs who represent one relatively small tendency in the congregation. To keep Labour fresh and updated we need MPs who can win the support of the mass membership.’ – Chris Williamson (2017) [xxx]

‘If people want to go off and stand as independents or centrists around some Tony Blair party, let them go and see how far they get. I don’t think it would hurt the Labour party. If they are neoliberals, they shouldn’t be with us.’ – Chris Williamson (2017) [xxxi]

‘MPs need to reflect the political programme that is overwhelmingly supported by Labour members and Labour supporters and if people aren’t prepared to do that then it will be up to members in their local constituencies to find someone else who will.’ – Chris Williamson (2017) [xxxii]

‘Corbyn loyalist Chris Williamson was caught on camera gesturing that [Labour MP John] Woodcock ought to join the Tory benches. Williamson has previously said he’d be happy if Corbyn critics such as Woodcock “buggered off” and left Labour.’ – Total Politics (2018) [xxxiii]

‘They are one and the same. Momentum activists are Labour activists. They are indivisible, really.’ – Chris Williamson (2017) [xxxiv]

‘To existing party members and activists I say: don’t be complacent. Maintaining the momentum behind the epic shift that swept the country last summer rests on your shoulders. Change won’t happen unless you take responsibility by getting involved to developing policy to selecting candidates who support the progressive agenda that won Jeremy two Labour leadership victories. Remember, the Parliamentary Labour Party’s job is to articulate and deliver the policies and values that are determined by you, the members.’ – Politics Home (2017) [xxxv]

‘There shouldn’t be a leadership threshold at all. That needs to change. Who are the PLP? They are a tiny percentage of the party. If we’re going to have a threshold, it should be CLPs. Why are people so frightened of democracy?’ – Chris Williamson, on proposed changes for the election of the Labour leader (2017) [xxxvi]

‘It’s clear there was a media blackout.’ – Chris Williamson, on the lack of coverage for Jeremy Corbyn’s Sean McBride Peace Prize (2017) [xxxvii]

‘I’m not saying it never ever happens but it is a really dirty lowdown trick, particularly the antisemitism smears. Many people in the Jewish community are appalled by what they see as the weaponisation of antisemitism for political ends. It is pretty repellent to use that to attack somebody like Jeremy Corbyn who has spent his whole life fighting for social justice and standing up for the underdog.’ – Chris Williamson (2017) [xxxviii]

‘The Jewish Board of Deputies has called for front-bencher Chris Williamsons firing for saying claims of anti-Semitism in Labour were “smears” to hurt Mr Corbyn.’ – Sun (2017) [xxxix]

‘Chris Williamson, the shadow fire minister, publicly backed another Labour activist who was suspended from the party twice for allegedly making anti-Semitic remarks. He said the way Jackie Walker had been treated was “dreadful” and praised her “courage”, according to a tweet posted by Ms Walker with a picture of the pair together at the conference.’ – Daily Telegraph (2017) [xl]

‘Chris is a first class MP and a true representative of his constituency. He has a reputation as being no fan of neoliberalism and his appointment is a sign that the days of free market Thatcherism are coming to an end.’ – Labour Party chair Ian Lavery, on Chris Williamson being appointed shadow fire minister (2017) [xli]

‘I think he should step down. And if he is not prepared to do that, then I think the government need to sack him and find someone else. I have had reported to me – I have not spoken directly to residents – that they are not happy about him, they don’t feel he is fit for purpose.’ – Chris Williamson, on the appointment of Sir Martin Moore-Bick as head of the Grenfell Tower inquiry (2017) [xlii]

‘Derby North MP Chris Williamson said he was quitting his role as shadow fire minister – where he led some of the party’s response to the Grenfell Tower fire – so that he could campaign on a “broader range of issues”. His departure came days after he suggested radical proposals to increase council tax by up to 100 per cent for Band D to H properties to generate more funding for town halls, which he admitted was not Labour policy.’ – Independent (2018) [xliii]

‘It is understood that Mr Williamson, a vegan and hunt saboteur, has been given a new informal role on environmental and animal welfare policy for Mr Corbyn.’ – Times (2018) [xliv]

see also:

[i] Guardian 13 August 1979

[ii] Independent 10 May 1994

[iii] quoted in Times 10 June 1994

[iv] Guardian 3 November 1995

[v] Daily Telegraph 5 May 2006

[vi] Derby Evening Telegraph 2 May 2008

[vii] Derby Evening Telegraph 10 May 2008

[viii] Derby Evening Telegraph 15 January 2009

[ix] Derby Evening Telegraph 7 May 2010

[x] Times 31 March 2011

[xi] Derby Telegraph 2 August 2014

[xii] Daily Telegraph 3 August 2017

[xiii] Daily Mirror 3 August 2017

[xiv] Morning Star, quoted in Sun 10 August 2017

[xv] Derby Telegraph 30 August 2013

[xvi] Sunday Times 19 October 2014

[xvii] Daily Telegraph 8 August 2011

[xviii] Politics Home 22 August 2017

[xix] Derby Telegraph 23 February 2018

[xx] Derby Telegraph 19 September 2013

[xxi] Derby Telegraph 5 April 2018

[xxii] Birmingham Mail 31 March 2018

[xxiii] Sunday Times 27 December 2015

[xxiv] Derby Telegraph 12 February 2016

[xxv] Derby Telegraph 15 August 2015

[xxvi] Financial Times 16 September 2016

[xxvii] Total Politics 3 July 2017

[xxviii] Daily Telegraph 27 September 2017

[xxix] Daily Telegraph 29 June 2016

[xxx] Guardian 6 July 2017

[xxxi] Guardian 28 August 2017

[xxxii] Total Politics 4 July 2017

[xxxiii] Total Politics 28 March 2018

[xxxiv] Total Politics 7 August 2017

[xxxv] Politics Home 26 December 2017

[xxxvi] Guardian 28 August 2017

[xxxvii] Daily Telegraph 16 December 2017

[xxxviii] Guardian 28 August 2017

[xxxix] Sun 31 August 2017

[xl] Daily Telegraph 25 September 2017

[xli] Guardian 3 July 2017

[xlii] Guardian 4 July 2017

[xliii] Independent 11 January 2018

[xliv] Times 12 January 2018


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