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Saturday 2 March 2019

Tom Watson - We Have To Talk

Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson is someone for whom I have a lot of time - as, I suspect, do all those who have been involved in the campaign to make our free and fearless press more accountable to those they screw over on a routine and regular basis. His confronting James Murdoch during a DCMS hearing, during which he put it to Junior that he was part of a mafia organisation, remains memorable - and dead right.
Tom Watson MP

If part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry comes about, Tom Watson will be in no small part responsible for it. So the friends and supporters of Daniel Morgan’s family - the Murdoch press was heavily implicated in his murder - as well as the victims of the dishonest and crooked Mazher Mahmood, and others suffered illegal and unwarranted intrusion at the hands of the press, will be forever grateful to him for his efforts.

However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, it now seems that Watson has overplayed his hand and put his party back in the news for all the wrong reasons. The dispute in which he has become embroiled, with Labour General Secretary Jennie Formby, is a campaign which appears destined to develop not necessarily to his advantage.

As with so many discussions in and around Labour recently, that dispute concerned allegations of anti-Semitism. Watson appeared recently on The Andy Marr Show™ where he told that he was asking those who made complaints of anti-Semitic behaviour to also notify him - at a private email address. There were also claims that trust had been lost in Labour’s ability, and processes, for dealing with such complaints.

The high profile nature of his intervention, together with the data protection implications, demanded that Ms Formby respond, and so she has done. As the BBC has reported, “She told him: ‘It is absolutely inappropriate for you to set up a vague parallel complaints monitoring system.’ … Ms Formby said that he and the party had ‘very strict responsibilities’ to safeguard members' data under GPDR and data protection laws and asked for complaints not to be sent to Mr Watson ‘or any unauthorised individual’”.
Jennie Formby

Watson’s response, where he tellsThe constant concern of those complaining about anti-Semitism in our party is that there is no transparency about the process … Too often those who have suffered anti-Semitic abuse have not heard anything about the outcome of their complaint”, begs one question: why not talk to Ms Formby first?

Also, why did he not consider the sheer weight of complaints which are having to be dealt with? As the Guardian told recently, at a recent meeting “[Ms] Formby hit back specifically at a claim made by the MP Margaret Hodge that cast doubt on the figures, saying she alone had submitted a dossier of 200 examples of antisemitism … [she] said investigations had found those complaints referred to 111 reported individuals, of whom only 20 were members”. Also, members must be given the benefit of due process.

All that has been achieved by Watson’s very public intervention is that Labour’s General Secretary and her staff have been distracted from dealing with complaints of anti-Semitism, and the party has garnered yet more unwelcome publicity.

Also, his stock among Labour members has not so much fallen as crashed. So It’s not just the Labour Party that now needs to rebuild trust. I’ll just leave that one there.
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Julian said...

Like you, I have long admired Tom Watson's attempt to hold our dreadful media to account, and his "Dial M for Murdoch" is an excellent account of the appalling acts of our press.

However one good position does not make a summer, and he has consistently undermined, attacked and slimed against the leadership and our agreed party policies.

If we had democratic reselection, as many other parties and countries do, then we would have the option to get someone else, who is more in line with what the membership wants.

Anonymous said...

Watson's public attack on the Murdochs (and, by implication, the Rothermeres) of this world was well worthy of Labour Party founding principles. But of course it was soon swallowed up as corporate media hastily smothered it with other matters, almost all of which were full-on personal attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, then the propaganda and lies of the phony "antisemitism controversy". Once the latter got traction Watson turned through 180°.

The fact is Watson's voting record shows him to be card-carrying member of the right wing Blair/Brown gang and all its war crimes, corruption and immorality. I doubt if he'll ever support any truly radical legislation needed to turn this country around. Tom Watson's priority is himself. Like the rest of his ilk, it always has been and always will be.

If he had a scrap of conviction he would join the right wing TIGgies wrecking ball. But my bet he's waiting - as are Benn, Mann, Hodges and some others - for a moment to do maximum damage. Overall, he's more slippery than Umunna and more treacherous than Benn.

There's less to Watson than meets the eye. Mark my words.

Anonymous said...

Watson must go. Too many members perceive him as working against the party & leader. He has a right to disagree with Corbyn but he does from a perch that works against the entire party and he does it in the media and must know the damage it will do. Seek out his recent appearance on LBC when a Jewish member called out Watson for his endless inward attacks on his own party and rare outward attacks on the Government. All Watson could do was defend Berger who disgracefully took everything 1000s of party workers did to get her where she is and then rather fight perceived problems within the party, just cut & ran. All Watson can do is defend these turncoats. Why?
And while his attacks on Murdoch were good it was great theater and Watson must have known it. And he didn't drive Leveson. That's totally down to The Guardian and Nick Davies superb work. Watson latched onto it.
But he also blew it by getting involved in false allegations against dead Tories which doesn't do a thing for Labour. Rather it depicts Tom Watson as an opportunist willing to jump on bandwagons whether they help Labour or not. A handful of Labour supporters seemed to think the Ted Heath /Leon Brittan falsehoods would help Labour but in fact they insult the millions of British Labour supporters who also believe in the concept of justice and even, shock horror, believe Conservatives are entitled to it as well. I think we are seeing that Tom Watson is one trick pony and there is a great shallowness beneath. Cunning, smart but not up to the job. Get rid of him now that the other dross has gone.

Anonymous said...

Agree totally with the above. Watson should go. If you on this page 'have a lot of time for him' I certainly don't. He has tried to undermine Jeremy Corbyn since he was elected leader. Wonder if right wing MPs ever think about the thousands who are struggling so much from this cruel government that suicide is becoming the only choice. So many are desperate for a Labour Government. Jeremy Corbyn is the most decent man in politics. How galling for the right wing mob to see Jeremy Corbyn in Broxtowe, Nottingham last weekend with hundreds of people listening to and then cheering Jeremy Corbyn. Interested to see how many would turn out for your much admired Tom Watson.
I don't know how Jeremy Corbyn has withstood the attacks on him from the press and from inside his own party, I couldn't. I sorry, I cant write anymore. Goodbye.

Mark said...

Watson's invidiously placing himself as the man who will knife Corbyn in the back. He's playing to the gallery of the Blairite slebs who cry A/S as 'The Nice Guy' or, more to the point, 'Their Guy' and he's biding his time for a coup