@Tom_Watson embarrasses himself re ‘left takeover’ – here’s the right’s mirror-plan

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:

watson lansman.jpg

rob watson lansman

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:

angell mcdonnell

Here’s an excerpt from that article:

angell conf.jpg

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:

akehurst politics

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:

akehurst unite.jpg

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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  1. Enthused by success in getting the awful Observer to print a plug for Corbyn yesterday, I’ve tried this one to today’s Guardian. Somehow feel it may not be printed though.

    In an article on the 8th January this year (Israeli diplomat who plotted against MPs also set up political groups) you reported that the disgraced Israeli Embassy official, Shai Masot, ‘was filmed covertly as he boasted about establishing several groups at least one of which was intended to influence Labour Party policy, while appearing to obscure their links to Israel’. If i remember correctly, leading figures from Labour friends of Israel enjoyed Masot’s company at that filmed meal and an offer of substantial sums of Israeli funding was mentioned. Is it a coincidence that the two rallying Labour MPs Jessica Elgot quotes, Tom Watson and Jess Philips, (Labour MPs rally against Momentum plan, 20 March) are supporters of Labour Friends of Israel? If Ms Elgot is going to cover UK union support of what she insists on calling the ‘hard-left’ in the Labour party might she consider also writing about Israel’s apparent support of the ‘hard-right? Or would that be against editorial policy?

  2. At our last CLP meeting we were told that they could afford to send only 1 delegate even though the rules say we could send more. It strikes me that the right wing could get their wealthy donors to to donate the more right leaning CLP’s so that they can send their full quota.

  3. This is getting completely and utterly ridiculous what in that recording suggested Momentum want to takeover the party, Watson what a load of bollocks apologies for my language this is really pathetic in the extreme!
    What it is, is total fear that ‘real’ democracy will be forced onto the party at the highest level, it’s all about ego and sodding power. The ‘far left’ irritate me mostly stuck in the past quite like the Tories and their Victorian vendetta. I’m a member of Momentum who want to and are fighting to get Cllrs and MP’s elected, who car pooled to Stoke in great numbers and knocked on just about every door with local campaigners. What would I call myself, a moderate? slightly left of centre as are the majority of Momentum members, no far left who have been banned by Labour are members of Momentum, it’s rules and membership process prohibit membership. @Tom Watson enough is enough! We are not a bunch of entryists Trotskyites or any other such nonsense. Many of us are desperate for Labour to regain power our lives depend on it.

  4. Watson of Progress and Labour first, complaining yet again about we who support our Leader Jeremy, unlike him and his minions on the Right of our once Party for the WORKERS and those who are finding life very difficult, not just for the RICH on the RIGHT of OUR PARTY, the likes of WATSON and his COHORTS!
    Mouthing off yet again it’s long past time that he should now sod off with his cronies and try his own party and name it SDP or as that been done before?
    Never mind they can join the Tories if it doesn’t work out!

  5. As the prospect of star-studded political careers, networking at the highest levels, government on their terms and a revolving door into a top job in industry, banking, defence or commerce slip away….

    …the more desperate and ridiculous become these plots to blacken the reputations of Corbyn, Momentum, Unite and all fair-minded people who want an overdue change from Tory Values.

    All the calculated work of misanthropic rogues nestling inside a party where they’re not wanted, cannot oppose, can only corrode, and need to be rooted out and put to the sword.

    Expect more of the same. And fight it.

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