Have you got the feeling that Labour’s right wing is getting more desperate lately? From Unite leadership contender Gerard Coyne’s claim of a ‘Jewish exodus’ from his union to the orchestrated, pre-arranged ‘open goal’ nonsense after Corbyn’s Labour forced a historic u-turn from the Tories and he reduced her to a jibing mess at PMQs, the attempted smears by the right are getting more and more stretched and transparent.
The latest is deputy leader Tom Watson’s laughable attack on Momentum’s Jon Lansman (with dishonourable assistance from the woeful likes of Jess Phillips).
Watson took the ‘opportunity’ of a Guardian-released recording of what appears to be a Lansman telephone call, first to launch a Twitter assault and then to bleat on Radio 4’s Today programme:
Of course, the first question this all raises is why Tom Watson appears happy to use a secret recording of someone’s private phone-call after his campaigning over phone-hacking, but hey ho.
Let’s look at what Lansman actually says. Here’s the full recording:
Lansman argues that:
- the Left needs to organise for Labour’s annual Conference in Brighton
- the Left needs to focus on getting delegates to the Conference in order to win a vote on the leadership nomination threshold
- the Left needs to plan for the time in the future when Corbyn will no longer be leader
- that it’s all about ensuring there will be fair leadership elections in future, with candidates that a huge section of the party’s members will want to get behind
- that union support is important and it’s worth the effort of getting them on board
This, according to the BBC’s Nick Robinson, is what Watson considers a ‘plot to takeover [sic]’ the Labour Party.
Richard Angell is director of Progress and Luke Akehurst runs Labour First, a Progress-aligned Labour faction. Neither make any secret of their contempt for Corbyn’s leadership and for the Left in general – nor of their wish to prevent a left-wing candidate standing in a future leadership election, a move that would effectively disenfranchise the vast majority of Labour members.
Angell wrote a whole article on it and encouraged his readers to organise to get their delegates into the Labour conference to make sure that the ‘McDonnell amendment’ – the same rule change to lower the nomination threshold in future leadership elections that Lansman refers to in the recording – is defeated:
Here’s an excerpt from that article:
The right of the Labour party does not have numbers, as the past two leadership elections have shown, so it relies on organisation to try to maintain its control of the party.
Angell boasts about what laughably-termed ‘moderates’ were able to achieve – from a minority position in the membership – at the 2016 conference and encourages his readers to organise to control the 2017 conference as well.
Akehurst similarly boasted about the right’s ‘achievements’ – and made clear the scale of his ambition to prevent left-leaning Labour members having a suitable candidate in the future:
But he’s gone a lot further in the past, encouraging his supporters to maneouvre to exclude Corbyn-supporting members from selections – and on the very first day of 2017 he was already organising moves to control delegate selections for the 2017 party conference.
Neither man ignores the importance of unions either. Here’s Akehurst encouraging his followers to vote out the pro-Corbyn Len McCluskey:
So, Lansman encourages supporters to organise the majority of members to be effective in voting at the conference, talks about the importance of organising, about the importance of unions, about the importance of the leadership nomination threshold.
According to Tom Watson, that’s a ‘takeover’.
But when Labour First and Progress encourage their minority of members to organise, to work to control the conference vote to prevent the majority having a candidate to vote for, talk about the importance of unions and of the leadership nomination threshold, that’s ok.
But then, Watson is a regular fixture at Progress and Labour First events and conferences. Here he is faking participation in Labour’s ‘NHS Day’ last year, while he was really speaking at Labour First‘s conference:
So Watson’s not unaware of their plans. He’s just a hypocrite. An increasingly desperate one, if he thinks he won’t be caught out being this ridiculous. Spread the word.
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