I can't believe that I once thought that Tom Watson would make a fairly good deputy leader of the Labour Party.
During the Labour deputy leadership election in 2015 he stood out as the best candidate in an absolutely woeful field that included Angela "integrity" Eagle, Ben Bradshaw and the corrosively right-wing Blairite Caroline Flint. In comparison to a box of turds like that, it's no surprise that Watson appeared to be chocolate.
Watson's performances since the pre-planned but ineptly conducted Anyone But Corbyn coup attempt was launched have been absolutely woeful.
Instead of acting like a bridge between the rival factions and trying to mitigate as much of the damage to the party as possible, Watson quickly decided to actively side with the coup-plotters and actually fuel the flames of the dispute.
His decision to publicly appeal for Corbyn to resign was ridiculous. Not only because it completely destroyed his chance to act as the neutral level-headed figure when everyone else was losing theirs, it also came far far too late in the day because it was already absolutely clear that Corbyn was going to stand his ground and demand that any challenger take him on in a democratic leadership election.
"Reds under the bed!"
Watson's latest contributions to the leadership debate are even more woeful than his ridiculous decision to pick a side rather than act as a level-headed intermediary.
Watson has somehow decided that it's a good idea to paint the leadership contest as a take-over of the party orchestrated by a bunch of unnamed knarled old Trotskysist from the 1980s brainwashing and bullying younger Labour Party members into supporting Corbyn!
Here's one of his comments:
"There are some old hands twisting young arms in this process, and I’m under no illusions about what’s going on. They are caucusing and factionalising and putting pressure where they can, and that’s how Trotsky entryists operate."Not only is it incredibly damaging to the Labour Party to claim that it has been infiltrated by a bunch of bulling Trotskyists and that tens of thousands of young Labour members are just a bunch of naive easily-led idiots, it's also such a fantastical story that only fools could believe it.
In fact it's such a ludicrous piece of "reds under the bed!" fearmongering it's difficult to understand what the point of it actually is.
It seems more like a story designed to damage the Labour Party as much as possible in the minds of gullible S*n, Express and Daily Mail readers than anything contrived with the aim of convincing anyone with the remotest working knowledge of the Labour Party into turning against Jeremy Corbyn and voting for his favoured Anyone But Corbyn candidate.
Seriously. If you were a Labour Party member backing Corbyn then a supporter of the rival candidate tried to portray you as either a Trotskyist infiltrator, or someone weak-willed and gullible enough to be manipulated by Trotskyist infiltrators, do you think that would make you want to switch sides, or do you think it would make you strengthen your resolve to fight back against the people who are smearing you and your fellow Corbyn supporters so desperately?
The use of such blatant smears against members of the Labour Party who happen to support Jeremy Corbyn illustrates how little regard Watson has for the public reputation of the party that elected him as their deputy leader just last year.
Another of Watson's utterly appalling comments came in regard to Ed Miliband's decision to democratise the Labour Party a little bit by turning the leadership election from an undemocratic shambles that afforded far too much power to Labour MPs into a proper One Member One Vote democracy.
Watson described this reform as a "terrible error of judgement" and said that he would support moves to strip voting power from ordinary party members in order to rebalance the scales of decision making back in favour of the Labour MPs.
And there you have it. The complacent, self-entitled, anti-democratic attitude of the anti-Corbyn mob. To them democracy is a "terrible error of judgement" that needs to be scrapped because the uppity plebs keep voting for the wrong candidate!
In my view Miliband's democratic reform to the Labour Party was one of his only positive legacies of a tepid, hopelessly uninspiring failure of a leadership. This reform has allowed Labour to become a mass participation political movement with more members than every other political party in the UK combined.
If anything is going to force real reform of the complacent, outdated, out-of-touch, unrepresentative, corruption-riddled, expenses-scamming and widely reviled Westminster establishment club, then it's going to be Labour's bold new experiment in participatory democracy.
If picking sides rather than trying to build bridges, woeful "reds under the bed!" fearmongering tactics and appalling displays of contempt for the concept of democracy are the kinds of contributions the Labour Party deputy leader is making to the leadership debate, then perhaps keeping his thoughts to himself for the duration would be better for everyone concerned? Apart from the Tories of course, who will be gleefully milking Tom Watson's damaging "Trotsky entryist" fearmongering trope for years to come.
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