Watson hopes rival group will ‘make it impossible for Corbyn to continue’
At the same time as unelected peers are trying yet another no-effect vote of no confidence, right-wing commentator Isabel Hardman has published an article outlining plans by Labour’s notional deputy leader Tom Watson to turn his “Future Britain” project into a ‘centrist Momentum’. Hardman wrote:
The plan this time is to surround and destabilise Corbyn and his lieutenants, until they resign of their own accord…
Crucially, Watson intends to set up a movement to rival Momentum, the left-wing grassroots organisation that took Corbyn into power. He runs a group called Future Britain, where MPs discuss how to hold the party together. I understand that the group is planning a massive expansion in the next few months, taking in not just more MPs and local government councillors but grassroots Labour members…
The hope is that this voice will become so deafening and destabilising, with a blizzard of angry letters and protests against the leadership, that it makes it impossible for Corbyn to continue.
Ms Hardman is well-ensconced in the ‘Westminster bubble’ and is also in a relationship with John Woodcock, who quit the Labour Party before an investigation into sex-pest allegations and has sniped from the sidelines ever since, so she is well placed to read the ‘centrist’ mood.
Doing the same thing and expecting a different result
Of course, ‘setting up a rival Momentum’ is nothing new – and those who try it invariably miss the point and set themselves up to fail because Momentum, for all its faults, grew from an authentic movement. It harnessed something already happening, rather than ‘setting it up’.
The Tories missed this point when they set up ‘Activate’ and provided side-splitting hilarity from the moment of its launch through to its rapid collapse – and at all points between – in which the late and much-missed Simon Baker played a significant and not yet fully-disclosed role. Baker, of course, knew all about harnessing authenticity in his groundbreaking and hugely powerful political videos supporting the Labour movement.
The Tories also tried to ‘set up’ their own Glastonbury when they were dismayed by the loud support for Corbyn among festival-goers. That was also an embarrassing disaster and a source of much amusement.
Watson’s attempt to ‘take in’ (and how that applies in all senses!) ‘centrist grassroots’ is doomed to go the same way – not least because the ‘centrist grassroots’ isn’t really a thing. The centrists have spent the last four years trying to galvanise the mass of other centrists they always fondly imagined was out there waiting to be galvanised and the result has been bigger wins for Corbyn and a steady extension of the left’s democratic control of local party structures.
The other major problem Watson’s ‘Momentum’ faces is, well, Watson himself. Even Isabel Hardman acknowledges the intrinsic laziness for which Watson is well known among MPs, saying:
There are many challenges with this new plan, not least when it comes to Watson’s own character. ‘At the heart of him, there’s a mixture of a desire to be in control at all times and a laziness that means he doesn’t always manage it,’ says one foe.
Watson’s ‘fake news task force’ was announced with fanfare more than two years ago – he even appointed a short-lived ‘czar’ – yet has done so little since that it takes a lot of Google-result sifting to find out it existed.
Similarly, the ‘Future Britain’ group of MPs that Watson hopes to turn into a ‘rival Momentum’ seems to have done nothing apart from an initial meeting. An enquiry to Watson weeks ago about what exactly it had done since was simply ignored.
In short, if the centrists hope they can create their own version of Momentum to get rid of Corbyn, the best advice to them is not to hold their breath – they have no vision and no substance for anything remotely useful to grow from. And if they’re pinning their hopes on Watson to make it happen, a rapid reconsideration of their life choices would be in order.
Meanwhile, Blairite peers have peerlessly managed to inject even more energy into the actual Labour grassroots by proposing a meaningless vote of no-confidence in Corbyn among ‘Labour’ members of the unelected House of Lords that Corbyn plans to abolish.
‘Centrist Momentum’. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. [Breath] Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
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.