Activists think it really is time for Tom Watson to ‘f**k off’ out of the Labour Party

Tom Watson
Fréa Lockley

As the Conservative leadership contest trundles on, now is the perfect time for unity in the Labour Party. The UK’s divided; and with many wannabe PM candidates threatening a no-deal Brexit, the stakes get higher each day. And Labour is the only party trying to bridge this divide and appeal to both Leave and Remain voters in order to tackle more critical issues. But then, along comes deputy leader Tom Watson.

“True to who”, Tom?

Labour is ahead in some polls as the Conservative Party flags. But worryingly, the Brexit Party also seems to be gathering support. Yet the recent Peterborough by-election suggested that Labour’s position – keeping all options on the table – could be vital to win elections.

On 17 June, Watson insisted that the “left hasn’t countered” right-wing rhetoric about Europe. He also went against Labour policy and said, “we must argue strongly to remain” in the EU. Astonishingly, he also argued for “solidarity”, and said “socialism is achieving common causes by the strength of collective endeavour”:

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He later said:

Our members are Remain, our values are Remain, our hearts are Remain. We need our Labour Party to be true to who we are, and be loud and proud in support of Europe.

It’s true that many Labour voters don’t want to leave the EU. But what Watson fails to acknowledge is that roughly 148 Labour constituencies voted Leave, while 84 voted Remain. Although this is difficult to calculate because the referendum results “weren’t counted by constituency seat”, these figures do reflect the “general pattern”. So Corbyn’s Labour sits between a rock and a hard place, since fully backing Remain would potentially alienate Leave voters. This could open the door for the Brexit Party to gather support, or for a hard-Brexiteer-driven No Deal.

Watson knows this, because it’s Labour policy to keep “all options” open – including a “public vote” – and it has been since 2018. Above and beyond anything else, Labour wants a general election.

With this in mind, many people noted that Watson’s move looks a lot like “sabotage”:

‘Ten reasons to ignore Watson’

If Watson ignoring Labour Leave voters wasn’t dodgy enough, then perhaps he needs a reminder of parliament’s Brexit votes since January. As grassroots socialist group Tory Fibs pointed out, no matter what Corbyn’s done to try to challenge Brexit, including an amendment for a second referendum, these votes keep failing in parliament:

In May, the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy issued a letter for Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) to sign. This letter outlined the “harmful divisions” caused by Brexit and the need to:

address the horrendous societal problems that face us, especially those caused by ten years of austerity ruthlessly imposed on the disadvantaged by the Tory’s and Lib Dems.

The letter cautioned against “politics of bitterness and division” and called for Labour members to ‘stand together’. As it also noted, this is vital when facing “the desperate efforts of the hostile press and media to muddy the waters”. It also warned against a “very negative and harmful approach of saying, ‘bollocks’ to half of the population and to millions of Labour voters”.

Watson, meanwhile, seems resolved to entrench division further.

“Time to fuck off”

Watson seems determined to undermine Corbyn no matter what, while entrenching division even further. In many ways, he’s sunk even lower than Chuka Umunna, who at least left Labour and (finally) joined the Lib Dems. As Twitter activist Rachael Swindon wrote:

Others agreed:

If this latest speech presents Watson’s version of “solidarity”, then it’s one that Labour really doesn’t need. And it seems it’s one that many Labour supporters don’t want either.

Featured image via screengrab

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    1. Watson seems to be confusing “solodarity” for do as I say and not as I do. He is supposed to be supporting conference agreed party policy and not making up his own agenda to support his leadership bid.

    2. Stupidest load of claptrap I’ve read in a long time. How can you be for leaving and for remaining? Brexit is a project of the far right and should not be appeased by anyone professing to belong to the left.

      1. Sorry. I disagree (with you) about this piece. And before I say anything, let me remind you that this is not the Guardian. It’s childish to brand ‘stupidest … –trap’ something simply because you disagree with it.

        Brexit may be a project of the far right as you accused. But not all voting for it are far-right supporters as many in the MSM deliberately like to portray. Far from it. And it’s a sheer dogma to say ‘true’ left does not vote for it as the phrase Lexit attests.

        If you acknowledge the fact that more Labour constituencies voted to leave the EU than to stay (as the article mentions 148 leave vs 84 remain), you should be decent enough to acknowledge how undemocratic ‘fully’ supporting remain option is. And even if the Labour leadership decided to do that, there are enough Labour MPs who could and most certainly would vote against any motion proposed by fully remain-backing Labour party. Just look at the most recent parliamentary votes on against no-deal motion.

        I don’t think Labour can markedly improve its policy on Brexit not because it is ‘useless’ as neo-liberals like to accuse, but because it is genuinely trying to reconcile deeply polarised camps which is not the creation of the present Labour we must say ( more like the Labour of Blair, Brown, Blunkett, Straw etc and subsequent ConLib coalition.)

        Tom Watson knows this. And that’s why they are deliberately pushing this issue. This is yes a sabotage. The simple truth is anti-Corbyn factions just went dormant after the electorate and the Labour members/supporters show their support for JC. They know they can never topple JC. But they will never abandon their goal of removing real progressives from the Labour party. Brexit or anti-semitism smears, they will give a thousand reasons in their ‘criticism’ (so-called) of present Labour leadership. The truth is they just don’t like us. It is our real socialist policies that they are scared of. Once Corbyn was in power, and once the British people really saw what we can do for the many, Watson-like people have a lot to lose.

        To be honest, I hope Corbyn is challenged because I’m confident the challengers will face the same fate as Chris Leslie, Umuna, Berger etc. The party looks a lot cleaner since they left. Hope more follow…

        1. “Tom Watson knows this. And that’s why they are deliberately pushing this issue. This is yes a sabotage.”

          Spot on and it’s disgusting. Tom Watson very possibly also knows that a second referendum, too soon or framed wrongly, would lose, and I think he would accept this as the price of getting rid of Corbyn. Force the referendum to happen, lose it, blame Corbyn.

          The Blairites will stop at nothing, sacrifice anything, to try to force the return of their broken hegemony. All of this just shows us how essential it is that we keep them away from the reins of the Labour party.

      2. I agree with you that Brexit is a project fo the far right. I agree with you that it’s totally undesirable and should be stopped. I even agree that it’s still possible to stop it.

        I just think that Corbyn’s strategy is the most likely to achieve that. I think the recent elections show (there was only a majority for remain if you count Labour as a 100% remain party, which every man and his dog is rigorously telling us it isn’t) that there’s every possibility a referendum would lose and this would be catastrophic.

        There are three available positions: hard Brexit, soft Brexit and no Brexit. They all have roughly 1/3 of the vote. Only by boiling off one of the above, and forcing soft-Brexiteers to stare down the barrel of no-deal, can remain win. This is what Corbyn has been trying to do all along without destroying the Labour Party and handing the reins over to Rees-Mogg. Do you think a strong Conservative government with a large majority would allow Remain to happen? No. Obviously not.

        Actually, just go back up and read the article properly.

    3. Couldn’t agree more, and I’ll tell you why. Watson knows if we stay in the EU Corbyn will never be allowed, by the EC, to introduce Labour’s economic policies, save are NHS, our schools, etc.
      I said more than a year ago Watson is the most dangerous man, he should F Off, and take the likes of Blair and the others with him and join that “great socialist” Chuk-up Umunna.

      I just can’t understand why we are so week against these people, It leaves me pulling my har
      out.

      Come on Jeremy be strong and show your real leadership qualities, I’m sure millions will be behind you all the way to number 10. Pompey.

      1. Outside the EU the US won’t allow labours economic policies and it will be the end of the NHS. Labour won’t win an election anyway without promising a second referendum because most people know that “Lexit” cannot work and wont vote for it.

        1. Labour will lose an election if they promise a second referendum. Did you read the article? Did you see the bit about how the large majority of Labour seats voted Leave?

          They need to have the election. Win it comfortably. Then call the referendum, making sure it has only two options on it, remain, and no-deal. This is the only way Brexit can be averted.

    4. I want to see a Corbyn led Government but he won’t get enough votes without promising a second referendum
      Brxit is a stupid Idea at best and a no deal Brexit which the Tories want would be a disaster. Even a Scandinavian style socialist UK would be an easy target for US sanctions.
      Many of the 17.4 million Brexit voters have changed their minds, and many have died of old age. If Labour do not promise a second referendum they will NOT win the next election ( they certainly wont get my vote) . Labour should pay attention to the Euro and local elections and back remain!

      1. So just out of interest, who are you going to vote for that you think will get you more remain than Labour? If you split the anti-Conservative vote in your constituency, you will put Boris into office. If you manage to take a seat away from Labour and hand it to the Liberals… what then? Are they going to go into coalition with Labour or the Tories, or remain in opposition and do nothing? Either of the latter two and you may as well have voted Tory. Can you see the Libs making a coalition with Corbyn? I can’t, not before hell freezes over. I can, however, see them agreeing to soft Brexit, pitching this as a concession wrung from the Tories, and making a coalition with them. In which case you will have voted for Leave.

        Your only chance of stopping Brexit altogether is Corbyn. Situation is much more complicated and nuances than Watson is trying to tell you, and fantasy answers won’t fix anything.

    5. Present Brexit quagmire is not the present Labour party’s making. They inherit it. We cannot unvote the 2016 referendum. But we can make not only Britain better, but also the world because of our role in the world (permanent member of UNSC, major world economy etc), by having an anti-war, pro-environment, working-people friendly real progressive government. I hope enough British people see this and vote Labour come GE.

    6. What is the Trouble with Tom? No one has mentioned a lack of imagination in confronting the Brexit issue created by the Toxic Tories as he doesn’t change the talking points but simply grandstands his view of what to do.
      Its so frustrating this dialogue, obscenities are being shouted just for any sense of relief from this Game Of Thrones.
      Where’s the challenge of an General Election?
      The issues of the original Euref aren’t the same now showing a corruption in their purpose to remain true, and the complete disregard for any principals fo democracy by the Tories, electorial fraud in financing. And what they can still be the Government by electing the original fraudsters is mind boggling.
      Many have changed their mind, and realized the EU looks to be only 20 miles away.
      The talking point to dominate the conservation is why a General Election is absolutely necessary.
      Take a Remain/ Leave stand but have an General Election by outwitting these Toxic Tories who have abused all the principals of democracy.
      This is the talking point to foillow stubbornly.
      Or one could just leave the country seeking a better life where sanity is given half a chance.
      Where is the wit???

    7. The other trouble with Tom , and his social crowd like Hoag is their fear of someone like Chris Williamson who really does have nerve, and is unafraid to seek the truth. They went after him to silence his voice.
      Their social truth is just a group think which is always looking for acceptance and trying to validate an opinion, meaning you never do what needs to be done.
      Like an Election.
      Punish the individual who thinks outside of the social ground they inhabit is the first goal of survival it appears.
      The real trouble is they can’t think by separating the wheat from the chaff as they say.
      Which is really serious.

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