The SKWAWKBOX has long treated Progress and Labour First as virtually one and the same – as indeed they are, as far as their antipathy toward Jeremy Corbyn and his vision for the Labour Party are concerned.
But it appears that all is not peaceful behind the scenes, with the key area of conflict centred on different underlying attitudes toward the EU and Brexit – and toward deputy Labour leader Tom Watson.
The SKWAWKBOX had an astonishing telephone conversation today with a senior member of the Progress 100 club – the Progress ‘inner circle’ of wealthy supporters who pay substantial additional membership fees for privileged access.
The caller – who not surprisingly did not wish to be named – launched into a diatribe against Watson, then switched his fire unexpectedly – and brutally – to Labour First:
We’re taking the party back from the Corbynites but rest assured we haven’t forgotten about Watson and the Labour First hillbillies. That battle’s just on the backburner at the moment.
When all this dies down and regular scheduled programming is back, there’ll be strong questions to ask of Tom Watson, like why he’d been working behind the scenes for years prior to the EU Referendum, trying to turn Labour in to a pro-Referendum party and why he was one of the most prominent movers in ensuring Labour’s support for the Referendum Bill. There are scores to settle.
Quite why a senior Progress member would contact this blog, which was recently the target of a ‘hard-left brietbart’ [sic] attack by Progress director Richard Angell, this writer has as yet no idea – and until this phone call I had been unaware that Tom Watson was involved in pro-referendum moves, although this was not hard to locate once I knew to look for it:
It is, of course, well known that Blairites are no fans of Watson – he referred to it himself in his resignation letter to Ed Miliband – and that their current co-operation is just a ‘marriage of convenience‘ born out of a mutual determination to bring down Corbyn.
Similarly, Labour First are more naturally aligned with Watson’s ‘old right union’ tradition of Labour thinking than with the more business-oriented and socially liberal Progress.
So perhaps Watson’s current weakness, after his Lansman debacle last week, the massive popularity among members of a mooted challenge by Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry for his deputy leader position and the failure of an attempted ‘Twitter storm’ to rally support for him, has the Blairite Progress sharpening the knives for their own challenge for his role.
If so, then since Progress‘ interest in Watson’s downfall coincides with that of this blog, perhaps they also found it convenient for what may turn out to be the opening salvo in a civil war between Labour’s principal right-wing factions.
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