How do we solve a problem like Tom Watson? This could be a three pipe problem.
I campaigned for Tom, quite vigorously in fact. And I was over the moon that all the other Deputy leadership candidates were defeated. All the rest were dire, although towards the end of the campaign I was sufficiently impressed by Angela Eagle ripping off Tom Watson’s bid for party unity behind whoever won the leadership that I eventually called for second preference vote to go to her.
But Tom Watson has betrayed me. And he has betrayed everyone who voted for him. I gave him the benefit of the doubt for a very long time. He succeeded in pulling the wool over my eyes longer than he should have: that’s my fault, I’m afraid. In retrospect, I should have seen this coming.
Can Tom Watson be sacked from the shadow cabinet? Not easily. Certainly not without expelling him, or at least suspending him from membership. That has to be a credible proposition, although it does carry dangers: it may be exactly what he wants.
Expelling any Labour MP has to be the last resort. Some Jeremy Corbyn supporters are desperate for a purge of the MPs, but that would prove utterly counterproductive. The reality is many of them are deliberately trying to provoke their expulsion. Tom Watson is one of the few who should possibly be granted this wish. But we need to think through the consequences of this, because we could be playing into his hands.
Tom Watson is deserving of having his membership removed for a long list of crimes against the Labour party. But this would have to be done with natural justice, and he’d be free to make his case. For all I know, he may win it as the party really does want unity. Whether Tom Watson is expelled or not, deselection has to be carried out in his case — provided his local party agrees, but I’ve absolutely no doubt that they will no longer be prepared to be represented by him as Labour’s official candidate. He is nothing of the sort, at least not in spirit.
Tom Watson wanted to stop Jeremy Corbyn being on the ballot paper because he knew members would reelect him. Because he knows Owen Smith has zero chance of winning the leadership election, he’s preparing to split the Labour Party by threatening four more years of electorally-damaging civil war at Westminster, with 172 MPs (if he gets his way) telling all voters that their candidate for Prime Minister is unfit to be Prime Minister, which is synonymous with calling for a Tory government.
Because Tom Watson knows he can’t topple Jeremy Corbyn democratically, he’s wasting quarter of a million quid to deprive the Labour Party of the funds it needs to fight Theresa May’s Tories, and his own immanent splinter party, possibly called SDP 2.0. Tom Watson intends to split the anti-Tory vote as Polly Toynbee did to get Margaret Thatcher elected three times with most voters voting against her.
Tom Watson got elected to unite the party behind the democratically-elected leader. But now he’s provoking his own expulsion by using every opportunity he can get to smear Labour’s half million members as ‘Trots’. Pathetically he says the only way to defend the party is to take away the votes of the membership. Members have a different idea: deselect MPs like Tom Watson who are deliberately sabotaging the Labour Party’s electoral prospects.
Are there ‘Trots’ in Labour? Tom Watson needs to define his terms. Who has he got in his sights? The former economics editors of both Newsnight and Channel4 News: Paul Mason? Seriously? Is he refering to the Firefighters union leader, Matt Wrack? I suspect those are among the socialists Tom Watson wants to get rid of. Both have called for the unwinding of Neil Kinnock’s witchhunt, and why the hell not?
Tom Watson says those who stood against the official Labour candidate have no right to rejoin. I beg your pardon? Whose fault is it that Dave Nellist etc has had to stand against the official Labour candidate? It was Neil Kinnock’s. If Tom Watson is expelled — as I believe he probably should be — he would then be perfectly within his rights to stand in any election he wishes, under first-past-the-post or whatever, to put his case to the electorate; and if that lets a Tory or UKIP candidate get elected, then the responsibility would be shared by him and by those who had him expelled him. This is a fact of life that must always weigh heavily on the minds of those who contemplating splitting parties that stand in elections.
Peter Taaffe isn’t proposing standing against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour if his supporters are allowed to get back in, and I hope this can be negotiated very quickly. There is massive incentive for all those who don’t think of themselves as ‘Trots’ to let them in. If you don’t like what they argue, then make sure they are defeated democratically. If you have confidence in your ideas you’ll have no problem defeating a tiny percentage of ‘Trots’ in a party of half a million.
First-past-the-post is designed to cripple the left. It’s a conservative’s wet dream. Every split in the parties of the left further strenghtens the capitalist parasites living the life of Riley with tax-dodged, asset-stripped, money-laundered unearned income.
The left needs a broad church that brings us all together. We’ll disagree? Of course we will. We disagree with ourselves after all. We do it all the time. It’s called changing our minds. And we are grateful to those who help us change our minds. But this requires us all coexisting in a single party of the left. Under Jeremy Corbyn, we finally have that vehicle. If Tom Watson is so scared of democracy that he needs to steal half a million votes, then he knows where the door is.