Labour’s current deputy leader, Tom Watson, has briefed media that he intends to personally oversee Labour’s disciplinary process – and even that he will be running his own parallel process.
He has shown the email below to journalists friendly to his cause:
From: WATSON, Tom(emphases added by the SKWAWKBOX)
Sent: 25 February 2019 13:00
To: WATSON, Tom email@example.com
Cc: Jennie Formby
Subject: Antisemitism, racism and bullying of colleagues
To all Labour MPs and Peers
Re: Antisemitism, racism and bullying of colleagues
Over recent weeks a number of colleagues have shared their frustration that incidents of antisemitic, racist abuse and bullying have not been dealt with in an adequate and timely manner or that colleagues have not been informed of the outcome of party investigations.
In response to these concerns, I requested that the General Secretary improve procedures by appointing a named member of staff that could be a point of contact for colleagues to raise cases and be updated on progress.
Jennie Formby was very clear that she sees it as her responsibility to be your point of contact.
So if you have any concerns about abuse or threats from fellow Labour Party members, or would like information about the progress of your complaint, please raise these issues directly with the General Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org
As your Deputy Leader I am deeply alarmed at the amount of abuse that colleagues are receiving from within the party.
In order to properly assess and monitor the scale of the problem, I would like to see any issue or complaint you raise with the General Secretary.
From now on my team will be logging and monitoring all complaints. I will ensure that this information is shared with both Jeremy, the Shadow Cabinet and colleagues on the National Executive Committee.
Please forward any emails or letters you send to Jennie Formby to me at [redacted]@gmail.com
This suggestion has met with derision from many Labour MPs – and not only because Watson has no authority over the complaints process and is therefore asking Labour MPs to breach data laws by sharing private information about people who have not yet been found guilty of anything with a party (him) who has no business possessing it.
MPs have pointed out that Watson has form – disastrous form – for this kind of vigilantism. In 2015, he was forced to apologise before a committee of MPs for rash comments about late Tory grandee Leon Brittan:
If [Watson] had waited until a formal meeting with other people I was working with, it would have been put in perspective. Things were mixed up… [what Watson said at PMQs] wasn’t a true reflection of what I was trying to get acrossWhistleblower Peter McKelvie
Watson also attempted an intervention during a 2012 Prime Minister’s Questions session in which he made accusations under parliamentary privilege – but was then rebuked by his own whistleblower for misunderstanding the evidence, blundering ahead without checking his information and going too far in his comments:
MPs told the SKWAWKBOX that the more recent history of illegal accessing of Labour members’ data and Watson’s previous track record made it unthinkable that he should have any involvement at all in Labour’s disciplinary process. One MP said:
Given the scandal last week with TIG MPs breaching data laws when they quit, does Tom really want to go there?
He’s not even using a Labour email address so there’d be no trackability or accountability for where the data goes. Given what happened with Willsman recently – let alone what Tom did a few years ago – who’d trust him with that?
Watson oversee complaints? Last time he tried intervening in investigations he was in trouble with Parliament and the police and made a complete hash of it!
He wants everyone to think he runs the show, why doesn’t he go the whole hog and run for the leadership if he thinks he can be trusted?
Thank f*** he isn’t in charge of anything except his own PR – and that’s bad enough.
MPs have also challenged Watson to trigger a leadership contest with Jeremy Corbyn if he thinks he should be leading the party – with some Corbyn supporters even going so far as to offer Watson their nominations to ensure he could get onto the ballot.
Tom Watson was contacted for comment. He did not reply.
Labour’s rules do not permit Jeremy Corbyn to decide guilt or innocence in cases of complaint, nor do they entitle Tom Watson to access details. Watson’s track record – and his willingness to misrepresent the situation – shows the absolute wisdom of those policies.
The mere fact that he has asked MPs to send personal data about Labour members – assuming they are Labour members, which recent history shows is often not the case – without their permission and when they have not been found guilty of anything demonstrates that Tom Watson is an unfit person to have the kind of access and information he is demanding.
Fortunately, it seems many Labour MPs recognise the complete inappropriateness of his latest grandstanding – and that the party will not hesitate to involve the relevant authorities if Watson and other MPs ignore the obvious application of data law to the complaints process.
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