Labour’s new enforcer and MP for West Bromwich East pledged himself to serve Jeremy Corbyn. However, could Tom Watson be the man to lead a coup against Jeremy Corbyn?
In September 2006, Watson wrote a public letter asking for the resignation of Tony Blair in an act Blair himself called: “disloyal, discourteous and wrong.” Now he is the man who is meant to protect Jeremy and be his stalwart watchdog over the party. Watson said that he had a “mandate of his own” and the day after Jeremy became leader, Watson came out in favour of three things it seemed Jeremy was not.
On the Andrew Marr show, Watson voiced his unwavering public support for Nato, Trident and the EU. The first two are issues Jeremy has voiced his disagreement with. What’s more interesting is that these are the policies that YouGov have recently found to be publically popular. 62% of people oppose removing trident compared to only 24% who want to. An overwhelming 69% of people oppose withdrawing from Nato compared to 9% who want to and while we often see EU polls being close, when it comes to Labour Party members, according to LabourList, 90% of Labour voters would either “definitely stay in” or “probably stay in.”
When Labour was all over the news as the main story and many members of the public were learning just who Tom Watson was, he made it aware that he wasn’t fully behind Corbyn’s unpopular policies. Coincidence? I think not. It’s also important to wonder why Unite, Labour’s largest union backer, gave a double endorsement to Tom Watson and Angela Eagle when Watson is actually seen as on the soft right of the party and Angela is seen as a devout trade unionist. It only takes a Google search to find that Tom Watson was roommates with Len McCluskey and few will hastily forget the Falkirk scandal in which the two were connected.
As soon as Jeremy was seen as the favourite, many implied he would step down in 2017 for another candidate, such as Lisa Nandy, the MP for Wigan and the new shadow secretary of state for energy and climate change. Other grassroots activists say that Progress, the think tank established by Tony Blair, will field a challenger against him at a similar point in time and think that either Chuka Umunna, Dan Jarvis or Tristram Hunt are the men to get the top job. However, few point and ask the question about the new deputy leader. Watson’s history with Murdoch, taking him on over the News of the World scandal and referring to him as a mafia boss, and the integrity with which he has handled himself surely would serve him well. He has proven with his nominations that he could get those who currently seem recalcitrant on his side. While it may all seem scandalous, there isn’t an absence of truth behind the argument.
I don’t know whether Watson is the Brutus to Corbyn or his glorious successor. What I do know is that there may be a Labour PM in five years’ time and his name might be the Rt Hon. Tom Watson MP.