Exclusive: what Labour’s official post-#Watson statement leaves out

Watson: a rabbit in the headlights after today’s meeting?

Labour put out an official statement today, following Tom Watson’s hypocritical ‘take-over’ claims to BBC Radio 4 this morning. It reads:

Labour Press
Joint statement from Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson following today’s Shadow Cabinet meeting

Joint statement from Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson

The shadow cabinet met today to discuss Labour’s policy and election plans and had a robust and constructive discussion about the challenges and opportunities ahead.

The shadow cabinet agreed on the need to strengthen party unity. It recognised the right of groups across the spectrum of Labour’s broad church to discuss their views and try to influence the party so long as they operate within the rules.

The leadership represents the whole party and not any one strand within it. No one speaks for the leadership except the leadership themselves and their spokespeople.

The shadow cabinet agreed our local and Mayoral election strategy and what a united Labour Party can and must offer the whole country after seven years of Tory austerity in terms of jobs, housing, education and health and social care.

We will fight for a Britain where people aren’t held back and where everyone in every community can lead a richer life.

Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party

Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party

Fine words and sentiments. However, the reality of today’s Shadow Cabinet meeting was rather worse for Watson than this official statement might suggest.

The statement below comes direct from a ‘senior Labour source’ who was present at that meeting:

lab source

Unanimous Shadow Cabinet support for Corbyn’s ‘slapping down‘ of Watson. ‘Reckless’, ‘careless’, ‘antics’ – and a complete disregard for the electoral consequences of this childish, self-centred behaviour.

Watson received a humiliation from and in front of the whole Shadow Cabinet today – for behaviour that is essentially a microcosm of the ‘antics’ of the entire right-wing PLP – hours after receiving a similar ‘slap-down‘ from Unite.

Has he overreached himself and pushed too far in a false expectation of impunity? It’s to be hoped.

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  1. Apparently Unite made it clear 10 days ago that there was no truth to this story. A formal statement was issued in response to press enquiries. It’s usual for those involved to receive copies of these statements. So did Tom Watson see that statement before he launched this campaign on Sunday? Even if he had not ( recall the number of occasions TW has not received a memo, missed a phone call briefing etc then accidentally commented against the labour position) he most certainly had the unite statement and position made clear to him before he toured the media studios Monday morning. The BBC also had the statement but chose to selectively report. Then on top we have Coyne commenting and briefing against his own union and it’s elected NEC.
    There is no doubt in many minds that this is as a minimum pure mischief making and potentially intereference by two colleagues – Watson and Coyne in a democratic election. Too many smears,too many plots, too many excuses.
    Obviously Corbyn is a far better practiser of kinder politics than many of us because most of us believe a full investigation should be conducted by Labour and unite which should be independent of these people.

  2. Unite made clear to the BBC well in advance that this was untrue, why then did the BBC go all out on reporting it and why did Watson, who also knew this to be untrue do the same? Something is very badly wrong here and Corbyn’s office must push the BBC to issue a full and frank apology on all news bulletins and Watson needs dealing with, if he won’t resign then he must be challenged, there is sufficient feeling in the party that members have lost confidence in him. Watson should not survive this, it’s treachery to every single Labour member and the thousands of activists busting their guts day in and day out for Labour. Watson has gone too far, this was petulance, childishness at best and at worse deliberate undermining of Corbyn and Unite with what he knew to be untrue. He cannot possibly carry on in his position.

  3. This morning BBC reporting of this shadow cabinet meeting repeated the regular “sources said” as having told most agreed with Watson and Corbyn spent most the meeting looking at the floor before asking for unity. I suspect the Bookies wouldn’t give odds on this “sources said” having the initials TW but where were the Labour Shadow Cabinet to debunk this reporting. It really is time Jeremy took a firmer stand.

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