Tom Watson has surfaced…

Tom Watson has urged voters to back their local Labour MP in order to avoid a “Margaret Thatcher-style” landslide that would make it difficult to hold the Conservatives to account.

Labour’s deputy leader said the party had a “mountain to climb” over the four weeks until the general election and was lagging behind in the polls with all income groups, including working-class voters.


The subtext is that Jeremy Corbyn is the reason for the ‘mountain to climb’… and that even if they are put off by Corbyn, voters can and should still vote for their Labour MP knowing that they are not Corbyn-supporters.  The idea is also that because the Labour anti-Corbyn MPs have ‘sat on their hands’ and kept quiet, Corbyn will have to take responsibility for the catastrophic defeat.  (However, I somehow doubt that it’ll work like that…)

To date, Tom Watson has been noticeably absent which is strange for the Deputy Leader of the LP in the middle of a General Election Campaign.   However, a number of other stories have also emerged in the last week.  The LP manifesto was leaked in its draft form, apparently maliciously.  Ben Bradshaw and Frank Field seem to have already rejected it wholesale, and are writing their own.

Chuka Umunna and friends have issued a demand to stay in the single market.  The new pamphlet, whose backers include former frontbenchers Stephen Timms, Stella Creasy, Rushanara Ali, Karen Buck, David Lammy, Seema Malhotra and Andy Slaughter, explicitly opposes leaving the single market because it would mean “lower growth and fewer jobs” 

And who can forget John Woodcock’s bizarre video saying that he would not vote for Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister.

All this is on top of a Telegraph article reporting that 100 Labour MPs will resign the Labour whip and set up as the official opposition, probably led to Yvette Cooper.  There are quite a number of problems with this plan, not least that if that is their intention, they are currently standing under false pretences as Labour candidates.

The respected commentator Squidapedoyt responses to this suggestion are well worth considering in the light of the above:

‘One cannot help wondering just whose side these so-called “Labour” MPs are on. They waffle a lot about “effective opposition to the Tories” but when they are asked to get specific about exactly what that means, they go all vague. This is because it is very difficult to “oppose the Tories” by putting forward exactly the same policies. But hush, we had better be well-mannered and not talk about that.’

‘But hey, let’s take the silly and simplistic way out, blame [Jeremy Corbyn] for everything, and resign ourselves to life under the predators forever, ripped off for everything, with falling living standards and services everyone depends on being shredded, while the wealthy double their wealth at our expense every decade or so. That is what being “realistic” and “moderate” means.’

‘Poor old Corbyn. He has to campaign not only against the Tories but against 85% of the press and many of his own MPs too. This is his punishment for advancing sensible policies which many people long to see. Nobody could win in his place. The task is simply not possible.’

‘Good old PLP,  loyal as ever. Can always be relied on for a destructive intervention at a key point.  They have been effectively “sitting as independents” for months anyway. They refuse to acknowledge the leadership exists. If the Office of the Leader asks them to do something, they may do it, or they may do something else, or they may sit on their hands and do nothing.’

‘This story is just smoke and mirrors. it is a piece of propaganda worked up out of the usual unattributable sources just as Labour began to make serious inroads into the Tory poll lead.’

”On reflection, this story has to be a bit of malicious rumour-mongering and nothing else. Consider the position of a Labour MP who had resigned the whip and joined a new independent group. They would instantly be in serious strife with their local party branch. Many of them may feel confident they can carry the local party with them, but they will be in for a shock, especially with the recent changes in the composition of the membership. They would no longer have the help of the anti-Corbyn faction on the NEC and in the party’s apparat to log-roll for them and keep unruly branch memberships in order, because they would have cut themselves off from the party. They would lose access to funding and to research and administrative facilities. They might get expelled from their local branch offices and have to find new physical premises. If they sat as members of an independent group, they could even be expelled from the party for supporting a political organisation other than the Labour party, like those activists who recently got the push for trying to organise a progressive alliance with other parties. It’s too much for them to risk.’

‘Corbyn’s “crime” is he has put forward policies to try to change the direction of this country; “for the many, not the few”. He has been punished by having to fight not only the Tories but most of the media and many of his own MPs. Question is could anyone else have done any better? His policies are actually very popular, but “play the man, not the ball” is very effective, unfortunately.’

‘The other reason is more fundamental. Labour’s right wing (code-named “moderates”, but actually neither their policies nor their behaviour is really moderate at all) may waffle a lot about the need for effective opposition to the Tories. But when they are pressed for specifics about what exactly this means, they go all vague and start to talk in jargon and buzzwords. This is in order to hide the fact that it is very difficult to effectively oppose the Tories by putting forward basically identical policies.’

”There are two reasons why Labour has not been a more effective opposition. One is that the majority of MPs refuse to acknowledge the existence of the leadership. If the Office of the Leader asks them to do something, they may do it, or perhaps do something else, or perhaps even sit on their hands and do nothing. Then, having made effective opposition impossible, they blame Corbyn.’


The Corbyn-supporting membership are not sitting on their hands but are working extremely hard to help anti-Corbyn MPs be re-elected because for us, it is always better to have a Labour MP than a Tory.  It is not asking a great deal to expect that our Labour PPCs should show loyalty (in public at least) to the democratically elected leader.  Many of us had to keep our mouths shut during the New Labour years.  Unfortunately, the impression left by some is that they would rather that the Conservatives are returned to government with all that that means for the NHS, Education, those with disability, social care, the environment, climate change, children growing up in poverty and more.  They should think again about what they are doing.




4 thoughts on “Tom Watson has surfaced…

  1. I have a so called ‘progressive’ candidate/former MP and this does make me wonder whether or not to vote for her; I have a sneaking suspicion if she does get returned ( and that seems likely) she will then ‘defect’. What will that mean for us her constituents??

    This makes me think if May’s decision to call such a quick election deliberately aids this??


  2. You are not alone Jayne. Many of us will have to hold our noses … and have been completely set up by the NEC in having LP candidates imposed, without a trigger ballot or input by the CLP. However, that’s the cleft stick that we’re in … vote for ‘their’ candidate or cause Corbyn to ‘fail’ by allowing the Tories to win.

    There are many rumours of senior Labour MPs and grandees urging the Tories to hold an election in order to rid the LP of Corbyn and co. Obviously, I can’t vouch for them but there can be no doubt that some view the GE as just such an opportunity. However, even if ‘they’ have lost sight of the reality of what a Tory government means for this country… doing our utmost to remove this government must be our priority.

    The next phase will be very dependent on the success of the campaign to disillusion Corbyn supporters, continuing union support, the actions of returned Labour MPs and of course, whether Labour wins the GE. However, remember that no-one can remove JC as leader of the LP unless he decides to step down or he loses another leadership contest. The next big battle is whether LP conference accepts the amendment to remove OMOV and reimpose the electoral college. Hence the importance of choosing delegates to conference.

    ‘I don’t care who does the electing as long as I get to choose the candidates’ explains the way in which the left has been set up… but tbh Brexit would always have made this a very difficult election for Labour to win…. These are the legacies of the Blair years.


  3. I have stuck with the party I love for over 50 years. If it swung too far to the right in my opinion, I didn’t criticise it publicly* but worked within it’s democracy to express my views and hopefully change the views of comrades. This was especially the case in the Blair years. [*The only time I have publicly expressed any disatisfaction with the leader was in the anti-war marches when I considered my pacifism more important than my party membership]

    However the reactions of my comrades to the election of Jeremy Corbyn to Party Leader has appalled me. Threats before he was even elected not to work with him, undermining him – I don’t have to repeat the examples from above. I have followed Corbyn for very many years, not always agreeing with everything he says but admiring his principles and honesty. When he takes on a cause he is faithful to it. I found this out a few years ago when he supported a five year campaign in which I was involved. Unobstrusively but always there, now I am returning the compliment. I am lucky that my local CLP is pro-Corbyn – I cannot imagine how it must feel to be working for someone who may shaft him the moment the election is over.

    In the words of the song [!]: Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer/
    We’ll keep the red flag flying here.

    Keep the faith brothers and sisters.


    • I agree… I’m in an unwinnable seat so the choice for me is to find a marginal. Fortunately, that’s not a problem because there are two – one PPC pro and the other very anti-Corbyn. Obviously, I want to help in the pro-Corbyn CLP but arguably, it would be more important to go to the other and counter the ‘progressive line’.


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