Coffee House

What Tom Watson’s resignation means for Labour

4 July 2013

4:06 PM

4 July 2013

4:06 PM

Tom Watson’s resignation from the shadow Cabinet won’t draw a line under the row about Unite’s influence over Labour. But, rather, it will escalate it.

This is now a serious enough issue to have drawn a shadow Cabinet resignation. Watson’s self-indulgent resignation letter makes clear that he’s going partly because of Blairite criticism. As he puts it, ‘There are some who have not forgiven me for resigning in 2006’. This puts the whole Blairite / Brownite narrative back at the heart of Labour politics. It is a reminder that a party does something awful to its soul when it removes a totemic, election winning Prime Minister mid-term. 

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I also suspect Watson’s departure will make those around Len McCluskey feel under pressure. If they lash out, things could get bloody. 

Watson quitting will be a relief to many of those around Ed Miliband. In the column this week, I explain that they worried about Watson’s work rate and priorities. Even before this week, they didn’t want to have Watson running the general election campaign in 2015. 

The Tories are delightedly spinning that the fact that Watson has gone despite Ed Miliband asking him to stay proves that Miliband is weak. Watson’s departure, and in these circumstances, certainly makes this one of the worst weeks Miliband has had as Labour leader. He desperately needs to change the debate before his party’s jitters turn into a full mid-term wobble.


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Show comments
  • zakisbak

    Ha ha.Pull up a deck chair,break out the popcorn.This is going to be great!Couldn’t happen to a nastier bunch of incompetents.

  • Adrian Wainer

    Labour, the Tory Party and the Lib Dems are scum, they should be destroyed. I have little interest in their internal bitchfights.

  • Abhay

    Amazing somewhat that this character is even being discussed!

  • Colonel Mustard

    I love the smell of Labour panic in the evening.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      So would I if I could stop laughing for long enough.

  • Chris lancashire

    He will not be missed.

  • salieri

    I would have liked to know more about these worries over Watson’s ‘work rate and priorities’. Was that a polite way of saying he’s regarded as lazy and unreliable? In addition to his better-known qualities, of course.

    • HookesLaw

      Well I would suggest his number one priority was Tom Watson.

  • Tim Reed

    Having read the letter, it’s impossible not to agree with Mr. Forsyth’s assessment – that’s it’s a window into the entirely self-indulgent, arrogant world of Mr. Watson. There’s a definite stench of conceit about it.

    In resigning in such a pompous, self-serving manner, Watson has single-handedly re-focussed the spotlight on the very troubles that he hoped would be alleviated by his departure, not to mention the added reminders of the Blairite/Brownite sectarianism that still lingers with the Labour party. He’s also unwittingly helped to confirm the narrative currently being exploited by Miliband’s foes that he is indecisive (week, week, week) by revealing his leader’s unwillingness to accept the resignation of a senior figure, having it forced upon him instead.

    Given the nasty, bullying, clique from which Watson hails, his instinct to indulge in self-flattery at the expense of others ought to surprise no one. As long as they’re only creating troubles for their own kind, I’m content to see them continue similarly.

    • HookesLaw

      If he had done no wrong – why did he resign. Labour’s attack line on Coulson is shot to ribbons.
      It would have been better for Miliband to have sacked him (with great sorrow of course). If Watson was such a great electoral tactician he would have suggested he be sacked.
      Instead Miliband asked him to reconsider.

      Judgement judgement judgement. (another attack line gone).

  • Jimble

    ConDems should worry that he’s no longer bound by collective cabinet responsibility.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Or not.

    • Tim Reed

      You mean he’s now off the hook to get Labour into even more trouble? Excellent.

  • Makroon

    Ha-ha, that James Lansdale berk has just described Watson as a “talented political organiser”. He must have been at a BBC-Labour colloqium when the “curry house” farce was going down.
    MacGuirebot is also all over, bigging up Watson.
    One thing bothers me – this all looks a bit contrived, like a typical Labour ruse, designed to make Miliband look “tough and independent” on the unions (Kinnock stylee).
    But it does look like the Official Brownite Labour party, versus the Continuity Brownite Labour party.

  • DavidL

    I find it amazing that Miliband asked Watson to reconsider when he first tendered his resignation earlier this week. Ed just keeps on living down to my low expectations. Watson was toast, and he knew it.

    • telemachus

      In my view Watson needs a knighthood for triggering Leveson and sorting out the press

      • Tim Reed

        …only if her Maj. promises to slip with the sword mid ceremony.

        • telemachus

          I suspect if HM heard of it she would upgrade it to OM

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          Preferably about eleven times.

      • Andy

        In my view Watson is a piece of scum. He needs sorting out.

        • telemachus

          Yes that is Murdoch’s view
          You are in good company

          • Andy

            I would rather dine with Rupert Murdoch than have to spend even one second with scumbags like Watson, Brown, Balls or you. I would, however, be delighted to attend your execution.

            • telemachus

              I guess you will be miserable in a short 22 months time

              • Andy

                Surely, your execution will take place long before then ?

              • Colonel Mustard

                Personally I think I’m going to be delighted.

      • Redrose82

        Watson to be knighted ? – Watson is benighted.

        • HookesLaw

          Miliband blighted — soon to be slighted.

  • telemachus

    The whole thing smells of a Murdoch stitch up

    • MirthaTidville

      I do hope you are right..Nothing more than this turd deserves

      • telemachus

        “One would not wish the serene back pages of Review to become the scene of an ugly legal battle between the bosses of News International and me, so I will not say that it is clear, from this book, that Rupert Murdoch is a liar. There is indeed another reading: that he is suffering from amnesia. How else to account for the exchange, reported here on pp 216-7, between Philip Davies MP and Murdoch Sr, when Davies asked him if he would have expected to be told if an editor on one of his papers had made a payoff of £1m to an individual?”
        The Guardian on Tom Watson’s Dial M for Murdoch

        • HookesLaw

          I do not think Watson is a man I would buy a second hand car from, let alone trust his assertions in book form.

          • Tim Reed

            ‘Labour – The party not even fit for second-hand car salesmen.’

            • HookesLaw

              The rather shady goings on in Falkirk ought to make everyone think about Watson’s motives over the Murdoch NOTW shambles.
              He, the Labour party, Brown, the Guardian and the BBC all were terrified that Murdoch would take over SKY. They all had an interest. Just what went on?
              Where is a whistleblower when you need one?

          • telemachus

            Nonethe less he did for Murdoch
            And behind all the current splutterings you will find the dirty fingers of some Sun Hack

            • HookesLaw

              Oh really? Why did he resign then? Are you trying to say that UNITE did not sign up members of the labour party without their knowledge. Are you saying that Watson’s aid was not the beneficiary of this patronage?
              Are you saying that labour would suspend an entire local party on the basis of a Sun hack???

              We now have the Sun on Sunday BTW. All Watson did (aided by The Guardian) was lose hundreds of people their jobs.

              • telemachus

                Perceptions dear boy
                This would never have surfaced at all but for the Sun and his personal Unite connections made it expedient

                • HookesLaw

                  This surfaced when people received labour literature and told labour that to the best of their knowledge they had not joined the party.

                • David B

                  So you don’t deny it happened your just upset people found out about it. That’s the Labour Party policy on open government and the one Watson is going to champign from the back benches.

                • telemachus

                  Never forget that politics is all about winning

                • Andy

                  Ah yes ‘the end justifies the means’. We might say that when they put the noose round your miserable neck.

                • David B

                  Cameron and the conservatives have just made a semblance of getting his act together and Labour and Miliband fall to bits. If today is winning I would hate see what losing looks like!

                • telemachus

                  Act together
                  Just analyse the referendum vote tomorrow
                  The Tories will never be united given Europe

                • David B

                  They might be more united the Labour. I believe its 14 shadow cabinet ministers who have privately expressed support for the bill! Time will tell. One thing is sure Ed is so scared he is running away

                • Wessex Man

                  desperate now, what has the referendum vote, which Labour is too cowardly to agree to got to do with Tom Watson other than his ego!

                • Wessex Man

                  There I was daft enough to think it was about serving the people, many years ago mind before Heath and Wilson!

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  So nothing to do with advancing the public welfare. How very Labourite of you.

              • Andy

                If UNITE signed up people for Labour Party membership that would surely be an offence. That would be using peoples identity without their knowledge and consent. This could get very messy indeed for Labour.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  I really hope so. Have the police been alerted to these complaints by people signed up for Labour party membership without their knowledge?

                • Wessex Man

                  Yes have the Police been alerted to these compliants but I expect they haven’t finished carrying out their Health and Safety assessment of the case before they get involved or not and probably not!

            • Nicholas chuzzlewit

              Remind me, Rupert Murdoch is still around, still running newspapers etc, not in Jail and still a Billionaire last time I looked. So no, Watson did not do for Murdoch.

              • Andy

                Maybe Rupert Murdoch can now ‘do’ for Watson. Maybe Murdoch can get his revenge on the Labour Party.

                • telemachus

                  You have finally twigged it
                  This is revenge but the death throes of a once great man
                  It is seen for what it is and will make Miliband stronger

          • salieri

            Still less the Guardian’s “review” of said book. Its self-righteousness is nauseating.

            http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/dec/11/dial-m-for-murdoch-watson-hickman-review

        • David B

          And this has what to do with Watson and Unite being accused ( by members of their own party) of rigging a selection process in several constituencies.

          I think you are look for scapegoats.

          • telemachus

            Cameron was trying to gerrymander the whole country til the LibDems stopped him

            • Andy

              Cameron was trying to un-gerrymander Labour’s gerrymander. After all most of these Labour seats are so small they are now rotten boroughs.

              • HookesLaw

                Several constituencies. A conspiracy. Thats even better. Who knew what when?

                • Andy

                  It seems it was a conspiracy. Signing up people to the Labour Party without their permission looks like identity theft. One assumes you have to sign an application.

            • David B

              No he was trying to rectify the gerrymander of labour. Surely even you can see that constituencies of the same size is fair while have constituencies with less than 20,000 voters isn’t. But I forget you are unable to see any flaw in Labour so that’s why you throw up spurious and inaccurate arguments to divert from potentially illegal activity of a favoured Brown prodigy.

              • telemachus

                You will of course remember Porter the grandmother of gerrymandering

                • Andy

                  From an admirer of Gordon the Moron Brown who should be surcharged for his negligence.

            • Nicholas chuzzlewit

              So no more than following in the footsteps of Gordon Scum Brown.

    • Wessex Man

      oh dear telemachus, for so long you’ve been pumping out the “good news” of “new improved Labour” now it’s starting to blow up in your face and you blame the dirty digger hilarious!

    • Shazza

      Still off the meds, telly?

    • Colonel Mustard

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

      It is always about Labour until one of their many dodgy closets falls open and out come the skeletons – then suddenly it isn’t. It is always someone else to blame.

      Was there ever a party and its advocates whose sanctimony blinds them so to reality.

      Hilarious. Keep them coming but not too much I’m splitting my sides here.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Don’t panic, don’t panic it’s Telemachus the Corporal Jones of the Labour Party (although with a much lower IQ obviously).

        • Tim Reed

          …and not nearly as well scripted.

          • telemachus

            But honest and always “right” ie correct

            • Colonel Mustard

              Dream on.

    • Stuck-Record

      Or those pesky counter revolutionaries and saboteurs. Shame you can’t still have them sent to the gulag.

      • telemachus

        I was never too much in favour of the gulag
        Too many people starve
        Now withdraw Facebook, twitter and even internet priveleges
        Thankyou for raising it

        • Stuck-Record

          Full stops, the spacebar and logic want to be your friends. Say hi to them.

    • Tim Reed

      The routine’s getting very old – time to retire.

      • telemachus

        You make your pitch
        Then you repeat it
        Then repeat again
        And finally the people cannot resist it

        • Tim Reed

          Take lesson in hypnotism – it’s the only way you’ll succeed in selling your damaged goods around here.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Don’t panic, don’t panic! You really are the Corporal Jones of the Labour party.

  • Colin

    Watson quitting means that finally the Welfare Party is starting the long journey of detoxifying its brand. Balls has to be next…

    • telemachus

      No son
      He is far too clever
      And far too necessary for the future
      Of the country

      • Colin

        That’s too funny!

        • telemachus

          He is a well rouded chap who spans the field

          Not a one organisation man

          Ed is proud to be a member of Unite, Unison and the Co-operative Party. Born in Norwich in 1967, his family moved to Nottingham when Ed was 8. He attended Crossdale Drive primary school and then Nottingham High School. Ed went on to study at Keble College, Oxford, and the John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard.

          • Colonel Mustard

            And getting more well rounded by the day to look at him…

            Is he a makhnovist or a pieandchipsovist?

          • HookesLaw

            Went to Nottingham High School as a fee paying pupil. A public Schoolboy.
            Ken Clark was a good old scholarship boy.

            • telemachus

              As you note Ed Balls can span all shades of opinion
              An indispensible genius

              • HookesLaw

                No Nottingham High School does, you berk.

                • telemachus

                  Ed Balls is as comfortable at Windsor as in Tower Hamlets and as a Bilderberg member or as a Norwich City supporter
                  He is well rounded and a politician to look up to

                • HookesLaw

                  If Ed Balls’ brains were dynamite they would not blow his cap off.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  Well you certainly can’t look around the fat lump. He is the only politician who comes with his own solar eclipse warning.

                • David B

                  You mean he’s as posh as Cameron – just pretends he isn’t

                • telemachus

                  As you say
                  Everything is a matter of perception
                  This spat is good for Ed B

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Dream on

                • David B

                  In the same way as McBride was good for him.

                  Fave it Watson, Balls, McBride and Wheelan were Brown’s inner circle. That circle appears to have been rotten to the core. You may be unable to see past your nose, BBC bias and Westminster bubble but the public are not as forgiving as you

                • Andy

                  Scum, scum scum. All of them are just scum.

                • telemachus

                  There is nothing to forgive
                  Politics is a dirty business and if you are not in it to win you should butt out

                • HookesLaw

                  Good to know. So nothing wrong with employing Coulson then.

                • David B

                  Do breaking the law, bullying, smearing sound like good political tactics!

                  Sound like you support the methods used by Hitler as they were successful

                  You really need to consider that position. Politics is held in low esteam and its tactics developed from opinions like this that caused it!

                • Andy

                  Thank God he is seldom invited to Windsor. Her Majesty has far better taste.

                • telemachus

                  But it will not be long before he has weekly visits to the Palace

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  Yes, to clean the toilets. A bit of physical work might shift a bit of his lard.

              • Ian Walker

                Ed balls spans at least seven shades of something

          • Chris lancashire

            But never had a proper job.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Sorry, everybody trying to compose myself….Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.. No sto stop……ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha…….

      • dalai guevara

        😉
        when everyone has stopped laughing
        natural selection will prevail
        and Umunna will take over

        • Colonel Mustard

          Umunna or his Wiki entry?

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          More elliptical nonsense.

      • David B

        “He’s far to cleaver”. Yep he knows how not to get caught. YET

        • telemachus

          As I keep saying he is a cunning dog
          And he is the only chap who can get Cameron rattled in the Commons

          • Colonel Mustard

            Looks like you are the one rattled. You are into rebuttal overdrive here.

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Don’t panic, don’t panic.

          • David B

            He’s just an ordinary political operator with a dodgy history of going to fancy dress parties.

            But as I said this morning you need to look outside your Westminster BBC lead bias and realise the public have a different agenda to you and Balls bullying history (not helped by another one of Browns inner circle getting caught) does not play well with the public. Remember he turned a reasonable safe Labour seat into a marginal they only kept by the skin of a few UKIP votes. He might not even be an MP in 2015. That would be fun won’t it!

            • telemachus

              Most labour marginals will be safe in the 2015 landslide

              • David B

                You hope! But Balls will be especially at rise!

  • BigAl

    The brittle ‘unity’ that Labour have claimed for some time now is starting to blow. Sit down and watch the fun! There is a decade of pent up anger and revenge to be had.

    • McRobbie

      What they mean by unity is actually unite-ify. It had to come to this once the trade unions misused their voting biase to get a leader that the labour MP’s and labour party members did not want.

    • telemachus

      No dear boy
      This Murdoch scam is seen for what it is
      There are times of tactical retreat and media management
      Look how cleverly Balls and Miliband have deflected the media pack from EU referendum mischief

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        It’s corporal Jones again: “don’t panic, don’t panic”

        • Andy

          ‘they don’t like it up ’em, they don’t like it up ’em’

          • telemachus

            Mark my words
            They will get it up ’em
            UKIP the furthest

            • HookesLaw

              You mean that voting UKIP will let in labour?
              Can you say that louder and a bit more clearly please?

              • telemachus

                Self evident son
                But the self righteous Eurosceptic xenophobes cannot see beyond the ends of their noses

                • Colonel Mustard

                  They can smell the whiff of a wrong’un though.

  • HookesLaw

    ‘Watson’s self-indulgent resignation letter’
    ‘This puts the whole Blairite / Brownite narrative back at the heart of Labour politics.’
    I am glad to see we agree.

    See my ahead of the game post on the previous thread. Sadly I cannot offer my subscription at £1 a week.

    edit
    Perhaps what Labour need is the Egyptian Army to step in to restore order?

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      just think of the rows they will have when and if they actually come up with some policies.

    • Andy

      With a Firing Squad ?

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