Watson attempt to raise pile-on of NEC backfires – leading member takes him to task and left members say ‘No’

Watson tagged CLP representatives on NEC into tweet asking for pressure to back new referendum – but earned rebuke and a left backlash

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has been pushing for a change to Labour’s position on Brexit for next month’s European elections – attempting to force a commitment to a ‘confirmatory’ public vote into Labour’s manifesto and literature.

Many observers and Labour strategists consider that such a move – which would have no relevance anyway, as MEPs do not have a vote on the matter in the UK Parliament – would damage the party electorally in any general election.

The background

Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meets tomorrow to finalise Labour’s approach to the ‘Euros’, which will take place if the UK does not finalise a Brexit deal before 22 May.

Watson yesterday asked his 285,000 Twitter followers to message the NEC’s ‘CLP reps’ – those representing and elected directly by Labour members – “if you want them to support a confirmatory ballot”, with the CLP representatives all ‘tagged in’ to his tweet, meaning their timelines would be flooded with any replies. It was a clear attempt to pile pressure on them ahead of the vote:

But the move backfired. While a substantial portion of those who responded said they wanted a vote, the majority of these appeared to be ‘FPBE‘ anti-Brexit die-hards, including supporters and members of the LibDems, Greens and SNP.

Among the left-leaning Labour members – who constitute the vast majority of Labour’s membership – most said they do not want another vote of any kind.

Except a vote on who occupies the position of deputy leader.

What members want

Since Labour’s membership contains a large majority of left-wing members – the 60+ percent who voted in Corbyn as leader – the nature of the left-wing responses questions the usual pro-referendum campaign claims that most Labour members want a new vote.

Worse, for Watson’s aims, was the rebuke he received from a senior NEC member. Claudia Webbe is a long-standing ‘left slate’ member of the NEC and is the Chair of the committee’s important ‘Disputes Panel’. She rebuked Watson:

A wake-up call

If Watson hoped his tactic might win support from NEC members, it may prove counterproductive, as Ms Webbe’s tweet was shared by other NEC members.

Claudia Webbe was not the only one to take exception to Watson’s approach. Many Labour members asked why – when he was pressing NEC members to listen to what he claims is the opinion of members – he was not prepared to listen to the calls of the large numbers of members who want him to step down, or at least stand for re-election to ‘test his mandate’.

Others reminded him that the real ballot the country needs is a general election.

Space forbids showing many of the responses, but those shown below are typical:

Tom Watson was contacted for comment but has not responded.


This is far from the first manoeuvre by Tom Watson that has backfired. As many members reminded him, he has a pressing engagement with a new deputy leadership election if he wants to demonstrate his commitment to democracy.

Polling across the board demonstrates that while pro-Brexit parties have surged in support among those intending to vote in next month’s European Parliament ballot, anti-Brexit parties are languishing on barely a third of the support seen for their rivals.

As has always been the case, Jeremy Corbyn’s and Labour’s first duty is to get into office and rescue the millions suffering under Tory policies and callousness.

Any push for a new referendum will damage that prime goal. The cynical might think that’s why Tom Watson – who was among those pushing for the first Brexit referendum but has been seen meeting advisers to the ‘TIG’/Change party – and his allies are so keen on such a push, or to create the perception of one.

The NEC, when it meets tomorrow, must not fall into the trap.

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  1. As has always been the case, Jeremy Corbyn’s and Labour’s first duty is to get into office and rescue the millions suffering under Tory policies and callousness…

    …including Julian Assange! On Day One.

    1. So you therefore think it is justified to go back on policies voted on and carried by membership at conference last year, do you?

      1. Do us all a favour , Troll, and stop this lying about what our 2018 Conference composite motion actually said ! A second Referendum is just one of a number of options “on the table” should we fail to get a Brexit that doesn’t include a customs union and close alignment with the SM , or General Election. But then you knew that really.

      2. jpenney 29/04/2019 at 3:09 pm · ·

        A second Referendum is just one of a number of options “on the table””

        Could you tell us all what other items were listed in the Composite Motion as being ‘on the table’ when the Brexit policy was agreed at conference.

      3. Conference voted to support a Brexit deal, surely you haven’t forgotten already? The clamour for a 2nd vote is designed to argue we should Remain. That isn’t party policy and IMO it shouldn’t be. Be honest about what you really want.

      4. Sabine

        I don’t remember any resolution to ensure Assange is rendered to the US by the next Labour government being passed at conference.

        What ARE you on about?

      5. labrebisgalloise 29/04/2019 at 3:15 pm

        This looks far more like a wish list than a policy. In fact the only mention of the word ‘policy’ relates to rejecting Tory policy

        “Labour’s priority is to get the best Brexit deal for jobs and living standards.
        Labour’s priority is to get the best Brexit deal for jobs and living standards, to underpin our plans to upgrade the economy and invest in every community and region.

        But this government’s divisions, incompetence and deregulation obsession put that at risk.

        During the transition period, Labour would seek to remain in a customs union with the EU and within the single market. That means we would abide by the existing rules of both.

        Labour rejects the Conservative policy of a race-to-the-bottom on standards and rights. We will treat EU protections as a floor not a ceiling.”

        You may not like it but
        POLICY is decided at conference

      1. This is a weekly occurrence from watson. Beyond a piss-take now.

        Just expel the f**king idiot and any of the rest what continue to create. Show them you mean business instead of sending tweets pointing out their faults.


        Twunts think they’re a law onto themselves. It’s GOT to stop.

  2. 23 Labour MEP candidates, including 12 sitting MEPs, have signed up to a 2 part public vote pledge

    1. Campaign to give the people the final say, with a referendum that offers a choice between a Brexit deal and the option to Remain in the EU.

    2. Campaign to Remain in the referendum.

    1. 23 Labour MEP candidates, including 12 sitting MEPs, want to keep getting 7,968 Euros a month for doing next to nothing.

      1. Plus massive expenses and a big fat pension pot, fees for TV appearances and newspaper articles.

      2. Exactly right – Labour MEPs want to stay onboard the EU powerless façade “parliament” gravy train forever – shock news !

  3. Quack, quack, quack, Tom’s right. Quack, quack, quack, the polls say. Quack, quack, quack, all the members think. Quack, quack, quack, it’s policy. Quack, quack, quack, have you seen this poll? Quack, quack, quack, all voters want it. Quack, quack, quack, isn’t that Greta girl wonderful.

    1. Wow!!! Such a grasp of argument and dialogue!

      We await the next subtly argued profundity with baited breath.

      1. Quack, quack, quack, austerity is the only way forward. Quack, quack, quack, the latest YouGov poll says 700,000 Labour members and 50 million voters want a second referendum. Quack, quack, quack, they also want one every year, in case they change their minds again. Quack, quack, quack, it’s all Putin’s fault. Vote Greta what’s her face.
        Quack, quack, quack, Duckspeak brought to you by George Orwell.

      2. Lundie and smart boy, are you jealous? And have you lost your power of speech, Duck?

      3. You in particular RH, have a remarkable ability to use doublespeak…..Love Corbyn hate Brexit. Hate austerity, love the EU. And a “Socialist” who thinks class is dead and can live with neoliberal economics and “humanitarian intervention.

      4. I think you Lexiteers need to hold hands and see if you can contact some aspect of reality. The flights of fancy and fictional meanderings get wilder by the day.

        We have long passed the point where the large majority of the Party is ‘the enemy’ whilst the Tories are on the same side!

        I think the term is ”ludicrous” – with a definite link to the playground.

      5. But Remainers have plenty of alternatives. You’ll find it very difficult to change Labour policy so radically without some voting. You will lose as you know and is presumably why Remainers are getting so hysterical telling Labour what it can and can’t do. Go and join Chuka and swirl down the plug hole with him.

  4. So how do ordinary members discover their NEC reps and emails? Many want to express a view the opposite of Watson’s.

  5. “Many observers and Labour strategists consider that such a move – …. would damage the party electorally in any general election”

    And even more – the statistically literate ones – don’t!

    Even Watson can be right on occasions, tho’ it sticks in the gullet to say it.

    1. … and, of course, the main function of Lexit sophistry is actually to lend credibility to Blairites, Watson and the Umunna brigade by confirming the MSM tropes about barmy ideas on the part of the ‘left’ which has adopted extreme right policy.

      A great recruiting sergeant!

    2. I think that this is coming to a crunch point for the party. As you say (despite the suggestions of others on here) most members are remainers.
      I suspect that if there is no commitment to a 2nd ref there will be a lot of members who will not be prepared to go out and campaign for the Euro elections; they might not resign (though some will), but won’t feel they can stand on doorsteps and pretend to support a policy that they are so much at odds with. I doubt I’ll be able to.
      Now, i’m sure that there will be lexiters doing the same if the decision goes the other way, but there are a lot less of them.
      The result of that will be to greatly weaken the campaign and strengthen the Brexit Party.
      …and I’m sure that a decision not to campaign for a 2nd Ref will have the LP in Scotland banging their heads on walls in frustration and the SNP celebrating. Just as NI was ignored during the referendum campaign, it seems Scotland is being ignored now.

  6. Look at THIS shit! No defence of ANY of his colleagues!

    I’m very grateful to the people providing support and solidarity with this tweet. I’ve learnt to ignore the organised ‘pile ons’ from a decreasing number of networked hard-left members and trolls. The kindness and support from the decent is always appreciated though. Thank you

    [… so take the opportunity to say thank you @tom_watson, for being one of the very very few good men (good women also thin on the ground on the Labour front bench) in the Shadow Cabinet.]

    1. Yeah, but in fairness I wouldn’t wanting him jumping to my defence….Useless, gormless bastard’d have you strung up immediately. I’d rather have Lt George off ‘Blackadder goes forth’ ffs.

      Anywho, it’d be amusing if someone was to send him a grovellingly sycophantic, supportive tweet…Then tell him they were lying through their teeth – Especially if he was to retweet it.

      1. That was a hell of a put down. V funny. Regards

  7. The article states a confirmatory vote would damage us electorally. Tom Watson is calling for confirmatory vote. What does that tell us about Tom Watson?
    Tom must realise now that he is on his way out. I think he will try to inflict as much damage on us as he can before he goes. The only thing is he is really unpopular – nobody likes a back stabber – so the damage he can do is very limited. That won’t stop him trying though.

    1. Reality check: Tom is not “on his way out” unless and until someone on the Left stands against him, is eligible to do so, and garners the requisite number of nominations according to the Party rules.

      Unless and until the Left gets serious and mounts an actual challenge, we will continue to have Tom Watson for an unlimited duration regardless of the volume of fresh outrages committed by him.

      1. Exactly. It’s no good umming and ahhing, watson is a turd that will not flush.

        Get your complaints in en masse. He’s already on record as telling the nation it was his job to make sure the toerags don’t implode (Or words to that effect).

        How many times since then has watson overstepped the mark?

      2. Of course he can be on his way out if he has a;ready decided to go of his volition and in the meantime doing maximum damage. It is not certain that forcing the conflict to be rid is necessarily the least damaging tactic.

      3. Felicity 29/04/2019 at 4:20 pm

        The only problem with what you are suggesting is that he will leave on his own terms with his reputation intact. In fact he will probably choose to leave in a flurry of publicity about AS and bullying. Whereas if he is defeated at the ballot box because the members have rejected him then that is a completely different scenario going forward.

      4. ‘In fact he will probably choose to leave in a flurry of publicity about AS and bullying.’

        So? Let him.

        It’s happened before…And how often are they making headlines now?

        berger, austin, and gapes have been largely ignored since they’ve gone because they’re of no use anyway and their complaints of A/S aren’t worth a w**k to the right wing press because their only trick only worked as long as they were within the party.

        field’s the living dead (has been for decades). I doubt most people (Certainly nobody around here, and I live in the next constituency so I have a good idea) took his A/S & bullying claims seriously; and you’ll note he’s said sod-all about those two issues since – because they’re just not plausible – especially in his case

        And woodcock??? pffft!

        The same fate’ll become watson (and a fair few more). A small price to pay imo.

  8. 1974 I went to a pub in Newport, South Wales to listen to Neil Kinnock outline the evils of membership of the European Union. (Paul Flynn was there). Within a year, Mr & Mrs. Kinnock were MEPs. How times change? The gravy train awaits.

  9. Whilst Watson is a constant irritant, he is not very competent or astute. The real problem lays with the 100 or so members of the PLP for whom it will take years to replace with those with stronger Socialist commitments. Personally I do not think the ambition to try this swiftly will end well so a slow renewal and patience seems to best of a number of options. Unfortunately with every long process there may be too many setbacks.

  10. Is it me but has Mr Watson just given out the email addresses of the full NEC?
    It wouldn’t surprise me if one day someone secretly records part of an NEC meeting then leaks it to the media then has the absolute gaul to sit laughing and smiling with his ‘comrades’ at future meetings but if someone was to ever do this surely they would deserve to be expelled?

  11. can someone with the knowledge tell us the process and requirements needed to get Watson challenged for deputy leader

    1. Doug – Here is a quote of the relevant section from page 21 of the rule book.

      “ii. Where there is no vacancy, nominations may be sought by potential challengers each year prior to the annual session of Party conference. In this case any
      nomination must be supported by 20 per
      cent of the combined Commons members
      of the PLP and members of the EPLP.
      Nominations not attaining this threshold
      shall be null and void. The sitting Leader or
      Deputy Leader shall not be required to
      seek nominations in the event of a
      challenge under this rule.”

      You can view and/or download the 2019 Labour Party Rule Book here
      Hope this helps.

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