When Chris Williamson asked me to proof read ‘Ten Years Hard Labour’ I felt an enormous pride. Chris and I became friends in 2019, when we met in Brighton for the Labour party conference. Neither of us were in a position to actually enter the conference itself however. Chris, because he was suspended on a trumped up accusation of antisemitism and myself because I am not a member of the Labour party and never intend to be. I was there for ‘The World Transformed’ a much more radical and cerebral event nearby. Chris took Deb (my partner) and I out for a vegan lunch and we were beguiled.

Understanding the Labour party reminds me of the Jim Morrison quote:

“The most loving parents and relatives commit murder with smiles on their faces. They force us to destroy the person we really are: a subtle kind of murder.”

It could be a beautiful and a liberating place but its reality is in fact very sinister. A description of the Labour party as told by Chris’ experiences and the experiences of many others.

Chris entered parliament in 2010. He left in 2015 and re entered in 2017. He then left again in 2019 and now sees any wind of change to be outside the intentions of the Parliamentary Labour party. Ten Years Hard Labour is the story of 2010 to now and how the machine continued to murder its raison d’etre. How a fifth column united against its members on behalf of an establishment unanimous in malice.

This is not an autobiography telling the reader about early family and school life. This is not an egocentric journey in to celebrity. This is an exposition of one of the most powerful criminal syndicates of our time. An establishment political party that wrecked democracy both internally and externally and turned on the people who provided hope for the many. It is not about a saint. This is not the tale of Joan of Arc in Derby or Westminster. This is about a man who made the transition from working on building sites to the heart of what we are told is ‘representative democracy’.

The journey begins and ends in Derby. From the delight at becoming an MP for his home town to the ghost of New Labour and their neo liberal elite pulling out all the stops to prevent Chris from remaining an MP just nine years later. The narrative in between explains why something so sweet went so sour.

When I arrived in the Palace of Westminster on 10 May 2010,
it felt intimidating. I was in an unfamiliar environment, with its
antiquated conventions and its archaic parlance, which sets it
apart from the people whom it is supposed to represent.

Westminster is not a place for the ‘common’ person. Even though it has a place of debate and decision, its name ‘House of Commons’ is a nomenclature least suited. It is mostly occupied by public school people who went to prestigious universities who have sold their souls to ideologues. Many care less about you or I than they do about the rivers they enable to be polluted or the libraries they shut. However, for Chris he rallied against what he called ‘imposter syndrome’ and sought to avoid the intimidation.

From Chris’ maiden speech in which he

talked about poverty, inequality, climate
change, local government, and the previous Labour government’s record. I was complimentary about some of New Labour’s
achievements (an indication of my naïvety at the time in not fully
recognising how much of an Establishment tool it had been). I
also expressed my concern that the Coalition’s plans would “take
us back into a period in which people are forced into poverty pay”,
and make local authorities cut services “to deflect attention away
from the Coalition Government’s proposals”.
Given what happened
in the decade that followed, my worries proved prescient.

Knowing what we know about the essence of the Labour party’s response to those who genuinely want a more egalitarian and sustainable future, the book focuses us upon that nuance. It is a description of an Aladdin’s lamp that has long since been smashed and yet pretends to be in full working order when it desires our votes. Chris’ experiences uncover the shards, who holds them and how they are used to frighten and subvert those who believe the ‘genie’ to be felicitous. As you can imagine Chris sees through this hoax but then mistakenly believes he can provide the remedy. This too becomes a false realisation and Chris takes us through the abandonment and tyranny he had to endure along the way. It is acrimonious and tinged with sadness but it is also finally a relief. An escape from careerists and egoists and those who merely seek to maintain their own status and relative power to the detriment of the rest of us. Chris is the rest of us.

We must not be fooled that Ten Years Hard Labour is a eulogy for Jeremy Corbyn. The weaknesses of Ed Miliband are there for all to see but so are many of Corbyn’s. His unfulfilled promises to friends, his inability to take on the party machine, his poor choice of trustees and mostly his inability to tell those shouting fake antisemitism accusations where to stick them. As hopeful as millions were of Corbyn, his strengths were often away from Westminster whilst blending with the public. In the end he was surrounded by too many Nathuram Godse’s and not enough Sophie Scholl’s.

Understanding the stresses and strains at election times when the Party is intimidating and refusing to fully support can only be imagined however, this pales in to insignificance as Chris details the antisemitism façade. As a person who was victimised himself by false accusations and paid trolls my experiences are not even in the same galaxy as Chris’. The essence of one of the most shameful parts of this nation’s recent history is told from the inside. Who was responsible and why they did what they did are laid out from an MP’s perspective both inside and outside of the Chamber. It is a fraud that went as quickly as it came with one purpose only. To persuade those who do not follow the world of politics with an open mind in to believing that one of the most resolute human rights politicians was himself, and was surrounded by, Jew haters. The establishment, careerists and the corporate media all bought in to this phoney war not because of any rise in antisemitism but because Mr Corbyn was a threat to their hegemony and this could not be allowed. Antisemitism became the lethal weapon and Chris was very much caught in the crossfire. How Chris Williamson and all the others who were attacked day after day didn’t all crumble is in itself a miracle. A few did and we must never forget them.

By the time we got to the 2019 General Election the Labour Party had done its best to get rid of or undermine the decent politicians and activists. Even though we know that Chris was not selected I still found myself hoping that the Jedi’s would be successful and the dark side would be trashed. Sadly it was not to be but Chris details how much effort he put in to trying and how much the empire fought back.

I was with him in Brighton 2019 when Chris and others were attempting to offer up solutions and opportunities to enable the nation to adopt a much more healthy direction but the empire was doing its thing:

My MMT seminar in Brighton saw right-wingers and the Zionist
lobby going to extraordinary lengths to stop it from taking place.
Their hate-filled campaign of harassment and intimidation resulted in three venues cancelling the bookings made by Greg
Hadfield, who was organising the event. He told me that the
proprietors had been subjected to what he described as “intolerable pressure, including foul-mouthed abuse and threats, online,
by telephone, and in person”. The threatening behaviour was so
severe that Sussex Police even said that they could not guarantee
my safety.

However, due to the perseverance of many, with Chris amongst the vanguard, the event did take place. The ingenuity of the righteous crusaders knows no bounds.

My own personal take is that the qualities of people like Chris Williamson and Jeremy Corbyn are not suited to the world of establishment politics. Take the establishment’s reign of terror away from it and they would illuminate the place. But with the hidden dark hand guiding it, their presence is overshadowed by the devious and the callous. The fact though that they have survived within it is in itself a badge of honour.

This symbolises Ten Years Hard Labour. Lots of ups and downs but no giving in. When the establishment threw bricks, the likes of Chris and many others just kept raising their shields. They did not have the clout of the empire but they and this book offers us the hope that the Achilles heel can be be spiked and that those who seek to turn politics in to their own little play thing had better be prepared as the very astutely named penultimate chapter states ‘If You Don’t Fight, You Will Always Lose’ demonstrates. This book ends with ‘Making the Revolution’ and for many it suggests that no matter how many times we are kicked to the floor merely getting back up and facing the enemy provides hope for us all.

This is a book that will eventually become a classic text for understanding how parliamentary politics works and anyone even remotely interested would be served by devouring it. It could change the entire vision of UK politics in one’s imagination forever.

To buy there is a selection. Click on a link below.

  1. Ten Years Hard Labour
  2. Ten Years Hard Labour (Amazon)

Jason Cridland

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