Tom watson

Chris Mullin’s eye for the absurd remains as keen as ever

Journalists seldom get to the top in politics. They find it hard to trot out the dreary virtue-signalling that political communication often requires. Chris Mullin, I suspect, finds it almost impossible. He was a Bennite, but the Bennites quickly discovered he was unreliable. The Blairites might have welcomed him had they not suspected, rightly, that he would get the line wrong sooner rather than later.  There’s an endearing vanity in the way Mullin reports every kind remark made about his previous published diaries The only journalist to have made the top job in politics is Boris Johnson, and he crashed and burned. My friend Denis MacShane, who has ability and

A convincing and hair-raising depiction of showbiz at its most luridly weird: I Hate Suzie reviewed

Fifteen minutes into the first episode of I Hate Suzie, main character Suzie Pickles was doing a photoshoot in her country cottage for Esquire magazine. ‘We don’t know what we’re looking for right now,’ the photographer told her. ‘We’re just going to cycle through some feelings and see where we are.’ What he didn’t know, but we did, was quite how many feelings Suzie (Billie Piper) had already had to cycle through by then. The programme began with her thrilled to hear that she’d bagged a Disney film role and cracking open the champagne. A few minutes later, she learned that some sex photos of her had been hacked and

Labour’s succession battle is well underway

John McDonnell was insisting this morning that Labour was going to win a majority, but just in case, insiders are suggesting that the Shadow Chancellor is planning to take over as interim leader if Jeremy Corbyn resigns after a general election defeat. McDonnell has long championed Rebecca Long-Bailey as a future leader, and there is speculation that he could install her as his shadow chancellor in order to boost her credentials. This explains why those around Corbyn were so keen to try to abolish Tom Watson as deputy leader in September. They tried to force a rule change at the party’s ruling National Executive Committee meeting which would scrap the

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson quits parliament

In the past few minutes, Tom Watson has announced that he is stepping down at this election. In a surprise letter, the Labour deputy leader says his decision is ‘personal, not political’ and that he is ‘not leaving politics altogether’. In the meantime, he wants to spend more time campaigning on public health. After 35 years in full-time politics, I've decided to step down and will be campaigning to overcome the Tory-fuelled public health crisis. I'm as committed to Labour as ever. I will spend this election fighting for brilliant Labour candidates and a better future for our country. — Tom Watson (@tom_watson) November 6, 2019 There are some

Don’t just blame Tom Watson for the fake child abuse scandal

I don’t carry a brief for Tom Watson. I have attacked him in the strongest terms for his part in spreading a fake child abuse scandal that wrecked the lives and reputations of innocent men. (The headline on my piece, ‘Why a deserved downfall beckons for Tom Watson’, gives a flavour of the way my argument went). But I, and I hope you, retain a good enough nose to smell a rat. It suits the interests of the police and supposed ‘investigative’ journalists to say the deputy leader of Labour party was responsible for promoting a ludicrous conspiracy theory about a VIP child abuse ring. Shifting the blame helps them escape

Corbyn to address Labour conference this afternoon

Time was when the box office attraction at Labour conference was going to be Tom Watson’s speech this afternoon. The biggest drama would be activists who planned to walk out in protest at the deputy leader’s constant undermining of Jeremy Corbyn. That was before the Supreme Court verdict, of course, and now Corbyn will be speaking at 4pm, having moved his speech forward from tomorrow so that he can head back to Westminster in time for parliament returning. But there’s still some internal drama playing out: Labour’s press team said Tom Watson would be speaking tomorrow afternoon to close conference, but Watson almost immediately said he wouldn’t do this as

What’s on today at Labour conference: The Spectator guide | 24 September 2019

There is no love lost between Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson, so the Labour leader will have to grin and bear it as his deputy takes to the stage this afternoon. Here is the pick of today’s events in Brighton: Labour events:  8:30: Policy Seminar 9:45: Morning Plenary Session: Tackling The Climate Emergency 12:35: Votes 12:45: Break 14:00: Afternoon Plenary Session: Tackling The Climate Emergency Tom Watson MP Speech 16:45: Policy Seminars 17:20: Votes   Fringe events:  10:30: Students Against Climate Change: What Can We Do? Ambassador, Hilton Brighton Metropole 12:00: Diversity in the Law – Room for Improvement? Kate O’Rourke (chair), Andrea Coomber, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, David Lammy MP,

Watson-mania hits Labour conference

This year’s Labour conference is proving to be a rather sedated affair after a difficult few days for Jeremy Corbyn. Rather than Corbyn-mania taking hold of attendees, attendees report of a flat atmosphere following the high drama of John Lansman’s botched attempt to oust Tom Watson as deputy leader. After the first vote failed on Friday night, Jeremy Corbyn intervened to stop plans for a second vote. However, that hasn’t stopped internal rows – with infighting becoming the main story of conference so far and rumours growing over Corbyn’s exit. There is one politician, however, who is clearly enjoying conference and that’s Watson. Watson allies are delighted with how this

Isabel Hardman

As top aide quits, is Corbyn’s leadership now sinking?

The best way to understand the chaos engulfing the start of the Labour party conference is by looking at the instability of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Even if this is not immediately obvious from the outside (which, with such terrible personal poll ratings for Corbyn, it should be), it is the underlying factor in yesterday’s attempt to abolish Tom Watson, and in the resignation of Andrew Fisher, the leader’s policy chief. Fisher isn’t a Labour man through and through: he endorsed a  Class War candidate standing against Labour in the 2015 election. But he is – or was – a Corbyn man through and through. He was involved in the first

Tom Watson’s ousting prediction

Tom Watson’s position as deputy leader of the Labour party hangs in the balance this weekend after a move was made on the party’s national executive committee to oust him by abolishing his post. The motion was proposed by Jon Lansman, founder of Labour grassroots group Momentum. Although Watson survived Friday’s vote, a second attempt will be made on Saturday at the party’s conference. Figures on both sides of the party believe it will be successful. It’s safe to say that this won’t come as a huge surprise to Watson. The Corbyn critic has previously spoken of the vulnerability of his position. Appearing on the BBC’s political thinking podcast last summer, Watson admitted

Isabel Hardman

Labour’s NEC in plot to oust Tom Watson

This evening, Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee has started to discuss a motion which would oust Tom Watson as deputy leader. There is expected to be a vote on this plan, which abolishes the role altogether, tomorrow, and there is a strong chance that it will pass. It was tabled by Momentum founder Jon Lansman, and was narrowly ruled out of order because Watson wasn’t present at tonight’s meeting. Tomorrow it will be in order. Why is Labour having this battle on the eve of its autumn conference? It is potentially weeks away from an election, and instead of facing outwards to voters, it is engaged in an internecine battle

Excessive gambling is dangerous – a flutter on the horses is not

Sorry is allegedly the hardest word to say — so Carolyn Harris, chair of the all-party parliamentary group studying gambling-related harm, scored a significant success recently by extracting apologies from a number of leading gambling-industry executives about the damage caused by their business. Representatives from Paddy Power Betfair, William Hill, Sky Bet and bet365 agreed that their firms hadn’t done enough to tackle problem gambling after Dan Taylor of Flutter Entertainment, Paddy Power Betfair’s parent company, acknowledged: ‘The industry has got things wrong and has caused harm to individuals. We mustn’t forget that.’ It is hard to remember now that we have lottery outlets in almost every newsagent and betting

Why Tom Watson is battling to change Labour’s Brexit policy

Why has Tom Watson given a speech about what his party leadership should do on Brexit? The party’s deputy leader has urged Labour to ‘unambiguously and unequivocally back Remain’ and to campaign for a referendum ahead of an election. This is contrary to the current frontbench position that a referendum should contain a ‘credible Leave option’. So why, given Watson sits with Jeremy Corbyn in private shadow cabinet meetings each week, has he gone public with this? The speech is a symptom of how bad relations are between Watson and the leader’s office. As I wrote in the Spectator recently, the two men at the top of the party have

The Spectator’s notes | 25 July 2019

‘No great surprise’ headlined the BBC television news on Tuesday lunchtime. The BBC does not admit it now, but it has been extremely surprised by Boris’s success, as have most senior Conservatives. They wrote him off at least twice — first when Michael Gove stabbed him after the referendum; second, when he resigned from Mrs May’s cabinet. His triumph confounds mainstream conventions about how to get on in Tory politics. It is partly to do with his personal qualities — his charisma, and even more, the attribute, visible in all the top-rankers, of mental and physical resilience. Over the years, I have often known Boris waver and hem and haw his way

Douglas Murray

Antisocial media

Two considerable injustices were undone this week. The first was the reinstatement of Sir Roger Scruton to the government’s ‘Building better, building beautiful’ commission. The second was the prosecution of Carl Beech for fraud and perverting the course of justice. The cases may be very far apart in their details, but their origins lie in precisely the same contemporary malady. Scruton was sacked from his unpaid position in April. The root cause was a doctored and false interview carried out by George Eaton. The New Statesman subsequently apologised for misleading its readers. But what was most shocking was not that one left-wing hack doctored his quotes, nor that by publishing

When will Tom Watson break his silence on Carl Beech?

Tom Watson’s face is splashed across the front pages of the newspapers today but unfortunately for the typically publicity-hungry Watson it’s for all the wrong reasons. Labour’s deputy leader is facing calls to quit following the conviction of Carl Beech, a fantasist who was yesterday found guilty of making up claims about a VIP paedophile ring in Westminster. In 2014, Watson met Beech at his office in Westminster to discuss the allegations. Beech later told police that Watson was among a ‘little group supporting me and putting my information out there to encourage other people to come forward’. But while Watson is in the news, he is so far keeping

Four people with questions to answer over Carl Beech

A convicted paedophile has been found guilty of making up claims about a VIP paedophile ring in Westminster. Carl Beech, a former NHS manager known as ‘Nick’, was convicted of 12 counts of perverting the course of justice. He was also found guilty of fraud after he received a £22,000 criminal compensation payout in relation to the allegations. Beech’s claims – which included allegations of three child murders – led to a £2.5m Metropolitan Police investigation. Edward Heath, Leon Brittan, Lord Bramall and Harvey Proctor were among those falsely accused by Beech. Here are four people with questions to answer following Beech’s conviction: Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe: Operation Midland was set

How Tom Watson reinvented himself to become the new challenger to Corbyn

Tom Watson has had more reinventions than Kylie Minogue has had mid-performance outfit changes. His performances over the years have ranged from baronial backroom fixer loathed by Blairites to scourge of Fleet Street when he took on Rupert Murdoch. There was a brief counter-culture period when he went around wearing a beret, a foray into hunting down alleged paedophiles, and a mysterious vanishing act when he realised that Jeremy Corbyn’s fans were out to get him. In the magazine this week, I look at where Watson’s latest incarnation is taking him: he’s the key figure in the latest attempt to save the Labour Party from Jeremy Corbyn and his hard

Watson’s new plot

Ever since Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour party, many of his MPs have dreamed of deposing him. They’ve tried mass shadow ministerial resignations, a no-confidence motion, even a formal leadership contest — but to no avail. Some, like Chuka Umunna, left the party, hoping (in vain) that others would join their breakaway group. Other MPs gave up hope, resigned and found jobs outside of politics — concluding no plot would ever work. But that might now be changing. The Corbynites, who have stuck together for so long, are fighting with each other. Party members, once the human shield who protected their leader, are beginning to doubt

Corbyn and Watson rift claims its first victim: a new female deputy

The Tom Watson/Jeremy Corbyn feud has claimed its first conference victim: a female deputy leader. Plans to create a new deputy leader role specifically for a female have been dropped this morning at the last minute after Corbyn’s team grew nervous – and blame is being placed firmly with his deputy Tom Watson. When the role was first thought up, it was seen as a way to undermine Watson – a man who has firmly fallen out of favour with the Corbyn regime – while also scoring some points politically for promoting women. After all, Labour are behind the Tories on gender equality here thanks to the fact they have