Labour deputy leader’s history raises questions about his current self-presentation
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, with ample cooperation from the Establishment media, has put himself at the centre of the effort to portray Labour as an antisemitic hotbed, to the consternation of the many who see the party as the country’s best hope in the fight against burgeoning racism and hate in all forms.
Watson’s frequent appearances have provided the media with opportunities to keep the issue at the top of the news agenda – and to almost entirely ignore rampant racism at all levels of the Conservative party, not to mention the Tories’ endemic division and incompetence.
Watson has simultaneously condemned ‘political interference’ in Labour’s disciplinary processes – and demanded it when those processes did not yield the result he wanted. The West Bromwich East MP, according to fellow members of the party’s national executive, has also personally attempted to interfere in disciplinary cases to help local allies facing serious complaints of bullying and abuse.
But hypocrisy in terms of disciplinary processes is not the only troubling aspect of Watson’s current posturing. He also has a chequered personal history in his response to antisemitism, asking voters to ‘hold your nose’ and support a candidate at the heart of an antisemitism storm.
In 2012, as Ken Livingstone contested the London mayoral election against Boris Johnson, Livingstone was accused of a ‘string of antisemitic remarks’ and was embroiled in controversy after calling a Jewish reporter a “concentration camp guard” and suggesting that Jewish voters were too rich to back Labour:
Surely Watson, in those pre-Corbyn days of a supposedly antisemitism-free Labour Party, would lead the charge to condemn Livingstone for the offence he had caused?
Quite the contrary. Instead, as Labour’s campaign lead at the time, he went public with a request for voters to ignore any distaste they might feel for Labour’s mayoral candidate and vote for him anyway:
Such a call would certainly be condemned in the environment that currently prevails.
Watson has also been accused of inaction when one of his closest aides was the subject of a complaint of racist bullying. The complaint is still ongoing.
These events, of course, do not raise questions only about Tom Watson’s personal authenticity when it comes to the issue on which he has assumed the role of chief spokesperson. They also undermine the currently-fashionable centrist claim that there was no antisemitism in the Labour Party before Jeremy Corbyn became leader, since at the time Corbyn was more than three years from ending his relative anonymity as a back-bench MP.
Not only that, but they also shine a bleakly unflattering light on the integrity of this country’s supposedly ‘mainstream’ media, which have eagerly regurgitated the comments of Watson – and of others with similarly tarnished histories – whole without either challenging their claims or probing their motives.
Watson’s ‘secret’ regarding his behaviour in the Livingstone campaign is, of course, not really a secret – it is there for anyone who uses the right Google search terms to find. However, as far the the so-called MSM are concerned it might as well not exist, remaining untouched and unmentioned in their current coverage of the issue and the claims Watson and his allies make.
In this regard, the media inexcusably deceive the public by omission.
Tom Watson was contacted for comment but did not respond by the time of publication.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here for a monthly donation via GoCardless. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.