A summary of “A first rough draft of history: Chris Williamson in Brighton and Hove”
For the majority of readers who may not have time to read the full version of my recent blogpost, here are some of the main points:
· The meeting with Chris Williamson, the MP for Derby North, was entitled and promoted as “A democratic, socialist economy”;
· The Brighthelm Centre swiftly cancelled after interventions by Peter Kyle, the Labour MP for Hove and by the Sussex Jewish Representative Council ;
· Holiday Inn Brighton took my booking in full knowledge of the content and context of the event; it agreed to an “irrevocable commitment” the meeting would not be cancelled;
· I wrote to Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion (in which all named venues are located and in which I live); I copied-in Mr Kyle, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, and Cllr Nancy Platts — none of whom replied or acknowledged my letter ;
· Nearly 1,000 fake and often obscene Eventbrite registrations result from an online collaborative effort by opponents to sabotage the event;
· An email to me from the Holiday Inn’s central Events and Marketing Team explains why the event was cancelled: “We took your booking on the grounds that we as a company we do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity or any other affiliation or personal preference as long as the activities of the guests/customer do not violate any laws or constitute a significant risk or potential harm to other guests or our employees. Over the past 24 hours, our hotel and employees have been subjected to abuse and threats from members of the public on the phone, on email and on social media outlets. We cannot allow our guests and employees to be put at potential harm and we will therefore have to cancel your booking with the Holiday Inn Brighton.”;
· After Holiday Inn Brighton cancelled the booking, the substantive facts were gleaned from a face-to-face conversation I had with Gints Skieris, its operations manager:
o Mr Skieris had come in on his day off because of what happened the previous evening and overnight; his line manager had come over to offer his support;
o The previous evening two men had entered the lobby, approached reception and said — “politely”, according to Mr Skieris — that if the hotel went ahead with the Mr Williamson meeting, there would be “consequences”;
o Staff had received abusive and threatening telephone calls that included staff being called “cunts”;
o One member of staff on the receiving end of the abuse the previous evening had felt unable to come to work on the day I met Mr Skieris.
· A fake [now-deleted] tweet from a fake or defunct account purports to show Kew Green Hotels Ltd cancelled the meeting because the company did not “support or give credence to extreme beliefs”;
· After Friends’ Meeting House accept my booking, I contact Sussex Police on the morning of the event about possible security risks, heightened by the online abuse targeted at Mr Williamson and me (as organiser of the event) and the publication of map seeking to identify the homes and/or workplaces of a dozen “anti-Semites” (including me) in Brighton and Hove;
· The emails, phone calls and “Twitterstorm” forces Friends’ Meeting House to cancel ;
· The Board of Deputies of British Jews announces a counter-demonstration; Quakers in UK publishes a statement explaining why the venue had cancelled the event:
o “Brighton Quaker Meeting House have cancelled this booking. Quakers in Britain recognise that antisemitism is a real and growing problem in the UK and globally. Antisemitism, as with all forms of racism, contravenes our fundamental belief that all people are equal and precious.”
· The names of the organisations and individuals — including a man convicted of threatening behaviour — who organised the “Twitterstorm”. And the man who — on the eve of the event — began harvesting names of people willing to take “direct action” against Mr Williamson and any venues associated with him during the Labour Party Conference in Brighton and Hove next month.
If you are interested in this summary, please find time to the full version. Thank you.