Someone really ought to mention to Tom Watson – politely – that he’s the deputy leader of the Labour Party, not the leader.
It isn’t Tom’s place to issue any kind of demand or ultimatum to his boss, and he certainly doesn’t have any right to leak the fact to the press before Labour’s policy – on any issue – has been decided.
Where the proposed air strikes on Syria are concerned, he may think such actions are reasonable because other Labour MPs have treacherously briefed the media against Corbyn already – but he would be wrong in that assumption.
Mr Corbyn is well within his rights to seek support among his Parliamentary party for any proposals he cares to put forward, and he would be right to expect any such deliberations to be kept confidential.
Perhaps Mr Watson has forgotten that the dissenting voices in Labour are a minority. The vast majority of MPs will follow Mr Corbyn, and the overwhelming majority of the party is firmly behind the recently-elected leader.
Indeed, if any moves are made to oust Mr Corbyn, it seems likely the party will split, with the majority of the membership abandoning the remaining rump of pale-blue Blairites. Certainly there are plenty of new members in This Writer’s own branch whose membership is conditional on Corbyn remaining in place.
Furthermore, let’s not forget that Labour Party policy on air strikes in Syria was set at this year’s Labour conference, with a resolution that firmly opposes air strikes unless four conditions had been met – and none of them have.
I’m told that resolution was nodded through by all the MPs who are demanding blood now.
So the Independent article quoted below presents a paradoxical situation in which the deputy leader appears to be hypocritically demanding the right to throw out a policy that he – and all the others – fully supported only a couple of months ago – and Jeremy Corbyn is being presented as the villain of the piece?
Come on, Mr Watson. We deserve a little more respect than that.
Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, has demanded that Jeremy Corbyn abandon plans to force MPs into opposing air strikes on Syria, amid growing alarm that the leader is hardening his stance against military action in preparation for a showdown.
In his strongest intervention to date, Mr Watson – who supports extending RAF raids into Syria – has warned Mr Corbyn he needs to back down and ensure MPs are given a free vote to avoid a damaging public split.
Speaking exclusively to The IoS, Mr Watson said the division within the party could be healed only with a free vote. He said: “Matters of security are perhaps the most solemn decisions that MPs have to make and they have to think about it deeply. After the week that we’ve had, the best way of holding the party together, but allowing MPs to solemnly express what they feel, is for us to have a free vote.”
UPDATE November 29: Mr Watson has tweeted a claim that he has not issued any warnings. This Writer awaits an indication from The Independent that he has contacted the paper and demanded a retraction.
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