Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson nailed his colours to the mast this week live on radio. Watson was asked on LBC if he would press the nuclear button as prime minister. With almost no hesitation, the Labour front-bencher confirmed he would do so.
This is exactly how Theresa May responded to the same question in 2016 when she proudly told the country she would launch a nuclear attack.
With Nigel Farage taking a week off from his usual LBC radio slot, Watson stepped in to cover the show. One caller, Tim, phoned in and complained about Jeremy Corbyn’s reluctance to get into a global nuclear conflict. He then posed the question to Watson:
If you were the leader of the Labour Party, and you was the prime minister of this country, would you press that button? Because that’s the only, one of the reasons I don’t vote Labour.
Watson replied, with barely a pause for thought:
Yes I would.
The caller then thanked the Labour frontbencher, saying that “in that case, you’d get my vote”.
“CND strongly condemns Tom Watson”
Both anti-nuclear activists and Labour members reacted with outrage at the comments. Campaign group CND responded on social media:
CND strongly condemns Deputy Labour Leader Tom Watson’s statement on @lbc that he would press the nuclear button if he were the UK’s Prime Minister. Nuclear weapons are immoral, obsolete and cost vast sums of money. They must be abolished before they obliterate us all.
— CND (@CNDuk) October 26, 2018
Others called on the MP to apologise:
Tom Watson comments on LBC that he would press the nuclear button if he is Prime Minister are disgraceful and he must apologies. Many people across the world have lost loved ones due to war. Bombs and rockets have destroyed many homes. Some are British bombs.
— Nadeem Ahmed (@Muqadaam) October 26, 2018
Some also questioned his suitability for the role of deputy-leader:
Tom Watson isn't the sharpest knife is he? "I'd push the button"…Why? When?
There is no logical point at which a sane person would decide to commit mass murder & ritualistic suicide at the same time.
One of the many reasons we need a new deputy leader. #JC4PM
— Jack D ?| #GTTO | (@JackDunc1) October 27, 2018
In contrast to this readiness to unleash nuclear warfare, Jeremy Corbyn was much more considered when repeatedly questioned on the subject before the 2017 general election. In the LBC phone in, Corbyn’s deputy made sure his own stance was crystal clear.
Willingness to engage in nuclear war appears to be a vote winner for some people, like Tim. As many pointed out though, it’s unlikely that we will find out if it would boost a Tom Watson PM bid:
Tom Watson says he would ‘press the nuclear button’ if he was PM?
Fair enough, it’s a bit like me saying I’d always stick penalties in the top right hand corner when I’m number 9 for England.
Neither is happening, next question.
— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) October 26, 2018
Although it is a very worrying attitude, it is not an anomaly within the Labour party or among MPs in general. Only 0.16% of trade union delegates and 7.1% of Constituency Labour Party delegates backed a debate on Trident renewal in 2015. While over half of sitting Labour MPs voted in favour of renewal in 2016.
We can only hope the Labour Party as a whole comes to its senses, like much of the rest of the world has, and explores the thousands of ways the billions the Trident replacement will cost could be better spent. Investing in the NHS would be a nice start.
– The Canary actively invites its readers to question everything they read. So please follow the links we reference. And always search for more information if unsure. But if you believe in the importance of independent, grassroots media in the fight against corporate propaganda, please consider supporting us.
– There are also many other new media organisations working to deliver news, analysis, and opinion in a more independent and ethical way. Please support them too:
Media Diversified, Novara Media, Corporate Watch, Common Space, Media Lens, Another Angry Voice, Bella Caledonia, Vox Political, Evolve Politics, Real Media, Red Pepper, Reel News, ROAR, STRIKE! magazine, The Bristol Cable, Manchester Mule, Salford Star.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?