Yesterday (September 20th) Labour’s NEC proposed the abolition of deputy leader – a post occupied currently by Tom Watson – and later withdrew the proposal on the advice of Jeremy Corbyn. The proposal was both a tactic to test the balance of power in Labour and also a reaction to Watson’s latest shenanigans aimed at damaging the party’s plans for Brexit and for a general election.
Whether or not Watson is deputy leader is not the most important issue for Labour. Watson is annoying and untrustworthy and he is media’s favourite “source” but he is no more than a place-holder for obstruction. Corbyn made a sensible pragmatic decision by dismissing the attempt to abolish deputy leader.
Dramatic crafted reactions to the proposed abolition were as predictable as a Coldplay intro. Faux-despair included claims that the plan was damaging to Labour’s electoral chances.
“Labour Conference this week needs to put the Party on a general election footing – talking to the country about our vision for Britain. For Jon Lansman and Momentum to try and remove our Deputy Leader Tom Watson isn’t just outrageous, it’s self-destructive and must stop.” – Wes Streeting
“An eve of election conference. The country crying out for opposition to the Tories. But purge Tom Watson for reflecting Labour members & voters views on Brexit? Tear our Party apart? If true – totally insane.” – Ben Bradshaw
Such claims side-stepped the fact that Watson’s recent announcement of his support for a second referendum instead of an election was a plan specifically designed to stop Labour fighting and winning an election.
The ham-acted response descended into reds-under-the-bed drivel.
“Complete madness from Momentum. This is nothing more than a self-serving power grab from the party leadership, attempting to silence all differences of opinion. It’s dogmatic, divisive and destructive.” – Margaret Hodge
“Good to see that the sectarian, undemocratic and vindictive attempt to abolish our own elected Dep Leader Tom Watson as been defeated – but the attempt is the perfect illustration that the fifth columnists who have infiltrated Labour won’t stop until they have destroyed us.” – Owen Smith
Apparently, anonymous Labour sources bombarded media hacks with their opinions. Most of the sources appeared to be part-time writers for The Twilight Zone.
“Speaking to well placed source, Lansman prepping for GE loss/ Corbyn resignation and wanting to stop Watson from overseeing the leadership contest.” – Lewis Goodall, Sky
“What will Corbyn do? This NEC could prove seismic. MP tells me ‘all bets are off.’ ‘This not just attack on Tom. It’s an attack on our mainstream democratic socialist & pro-European tradition,’ ‘taking a step a time…but it’s hard to see how Party would survive this in one piece.’ ” – Beth Rigby, Sky
“Parliamentary Labour Party officers write to NEC re . Tom Watson: ‘Today’s outrageous proposals to remove the position of Deputy Leader of the Labour Party are counterproductive, entirely factional and undermines the unity that the party have been striving for.’ ” – Iain Watson, BBC
BBC’s Iain Watson was the giddiest with excitement about the story that any political journalist could be about anything and he had his wingman Chris Mason by his side.
To be fair, Sky’s Tom Rayner and ITV’s Paul Brand, the latter famous for his full in depth investigation of Jeremy Corbyn waiting for a lift, were equally as excited. Brand had a source for every daft opinion he could muster.
“Alternative theory is that this was all a complete disaster for Corbynite wing. They thought they had numbers at last night’s NEC and Corbyn wasn’t there to have blood on his hands. But failed attempt meant pressure built against the coup and all fell spectacularly apart.”
The Tom Watson incident was a catalyst for cahooting hacks and Progress MPs to demonstrate how they intend to behave throughout the Labour Party conference. Their behaviour was unsurprising. Both hiveminds revel in their denigration of Labour. A looming election with the possibility of a left-leaning government scares them. It will not take much for their drama and outrage to be to the fore.
The hacks will avoid reporting positive Labour policies.