i think both corbyn & lansman seek to ensure that labour does not win

Tom Watson: Labour ditches vote on abolishing deputy leader role
Michael Savage, Aamna Mohdin, Groan, Sep 21 2019

Jeremy Corbyn has attempted to defuse an attempt to oust deputy leader Tom Watson, after a huge backlash from unions and MPs. The Labour leader proposed reviewing the post of deputy leader after a surprise attempt to abolish the post narrowly failed. The proposal to abolish Watson’s role had been due to be put to a vote at a meeting of Labour’s ruling national executive committee. The row, which erupted on Friday night, plunged the party into a major crisis as its annual conference began in Brighton on Saturday. MPs, shadow ministers and officials all expressed anger at the move. A Labour party source said:

Jeremy Corbyn proposed that the motion not go to a vote and instead that there be a review of the position of deputy leader and other positions in support of the leader. This will consider how democratic accountability can be strengthened to give members a greater say, expanding the number of elected positions, and how diverse representation can be further improved. The NEC agreed to his proposal.

Momentum chief Jon Lansman, who was behind the move to oust Watson, tweeted:

I welcome and fully support Jeremy’s proposal to review Tom Watson’s position. We need to make sure the deputy leader role is properly accountable to the membership while also unifying the party at conference. In my view, this review is absolutely the best way of doing that.

Lansman tabled a last-minute motion at the party’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) on Friday night calling for Watson’s job to be scrapped. The chair of the NEC initially ruled Lansman’s motion out of order, but NEC members agreed to return to the issue on Saturday morning. Neither Watson nor Corbyn were present at the meeting. Watson said he was yet to speak to Corbyn. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Watson said:

I got a text message in a Chinese restaurant in Manchester to say that they were abolishing me. Jeremy Corbyn can stop the vote from going ahead. It’s a straight sectarian attack on a broad church party and it’s moving us into a different kind of institution where pluralism isn’t tolerated, where factional observance has to be adhered to completely, and it kind of completely goes against the sort of traditions that the Labour party has had for 100 years. If we’re serious about changing the political economy in Britain, of giving people the benefits of a transformative Labour government, then let’s focus on that this week rather than having what seems like a sort of sleight-of-hand of constitutional change to do a drive-by shooting of someone you disagree with on the issue of the day.

Labour MPs have come to Watson’s defence. Former PM Tony Blair said:

(This move would be) undemocratic, damaging and politically dangerous. To suggest it at this time shows a quite extraordinary level of destructive sectarianism. The Labour party has always contained different views within it and the deputy leader’s position has been one way of accommodating such views. Getting rid of it would be a signal that such pluralism of views was coming to an end despite being cherished throughout Labour’s history.

The former Labour leader Ed Miliband said:

The move to abolish the deputy leader post without warning or debate is undemocratic, wrong and should not happen. Those who came up with the idea for the eve of Labour conference have taken leave of their senses.

The Ilford North MP, Wes Streeting, tweeted that the move to remove the deputy leader was “outrageous, it’s self-destructive and must stop.” Labour shadow cabinet member Dawn Butler said she was surprised at moves to try to abolish the position of deputy party leader. Referring to moves to remove Watson from the role, Butler told BBC Radio 4’s Today:

I think it’s a good position to have an elected deputy leader. I was quite surprised at the motion, if that is what you want to ask me … It just came out of the blue for me.

Butler said she understood the frustration of the members. She said:

I have my frustrations with Tom too. I haven’t seen him at a shadow cabinet meeting for a while.

Corbyn allies in bid to scrap Tom Watson’s deputy leader post
Heather Stewart, Groan, Sep 20 2019

Labour has been plunged into a fresh civil war on the eve of its annual conference, as allies of Jeremy Corbyn launched a bid to abolish Tom Watson’s post of deputy leader. Jon Lansman, founder of the pro-Corbyn campaign group Momentum, tabled a last-minute motion at the party’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) on Friday night calling for Watson’s job to be scrapped. A Momentum source said:

No one person is more important than beating Boris Johnson, ending austerity and tackling the climate emergency. We just can’t afford to go into an election with a deputy leader set on wrecking Labour’s chances. Labour members overwhelmingly want a deputy leadership election, but our outdated rulebook won’t let it happen. You need 20% of Labour MPs to trigger an election, and they just won’t let the members have a fair and open election.

The chair of the NEC ruled Lansman’s motion out of order, but he then sought to have that decision overturned. Lansman won the subsequent vote 17-10, which fell just short of the two-thirds majority necessary to challenge the chair’s authority. However, the Guardian understands NEC members agreed to return to the issue at Saturday’s meeting. If the policy is agreed, it would be recommended to Labour members as a change to party rules, which would then have to be approved by conference. Neither Watson nor Corbyn were present at the meeting. A senior Labour source said:

Tom had given his apologies to the NEC as he had to look after his children. Usually when you disagree within parties on issues like taking a remain stance on Brexit, you have a debate. Seems that in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party they’d rather abolish you than debate with you.

Watson, MP for West Bromwich East, was elected to the post of deputy leader in 2015. Never an enthusiastic Corbyn supporter, he has increasingly irked the leadership in recent months. He formed an internal Labour caucus called the Future Britain Group in the wake of the defections of a string of MPs including Luciana Berger and Chuka Umunna, calling for the voices of social democrats to be heard more loudly in the party. Most recently he has made a series of off-message interventions in the Brexit debate, including a speech calling for Labour to support a referendum before a general election. Some Labour MPs expressed alarm about the surprise move to oust him. Jess Phillips warned of what she called “a desperate attempt to control and expel anyone who has an independent thought.” Corbyn allies believe Watson is using the issue of Brexit to drive a wedge between the Labour leader and the party’s overwhelmingly pro-remain activists. In his speech earlier this month, Watson said his party must “unambiguously and unequivocally back remain,” something Corbyn has reiterated in recent days he believes is the wrong approach. As well as irritating the leadership, Watson has had a long-running feud with Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, Labour’s biggest donor. The pair were once close friends, but have clashed over Corbyn’s leadership and Brexit. In May, as Watson became increasingly vocal about the party’s Brexit policy, McCluskey said:

Tom Watson’s already out, surprise surprise, trying to take on the role of Prince Machiavelli, but I’ve got news for Tom: Machiavelli was effective. He’s a poor imitation of that. If he’s trying to turn Labour members against Corbyn and in his favour, then he’s going to lose disastrously. And there will be others in the coming days who try and do the same. Now is the time to hold your nerve, because a general election, which is the only thing that will resolve this situation, is closer now than anything.

Lansman’s motion is not the first attempt to clip Watson’s wings. The NEC discussed a bid to create a second, female deputy leader role at last year’s conference, but it was withdrawn at the last minute after Watson himself welcomed the move. Friday’s move to oust Watson, which several senior Labour sources suggested would not have been taken without Corbyn’s tacit backing, follows the abolition of Labour Students, the group some party left-wingers have long regarded as a hotbed of centrists.

Lansman tries to oust Watson on eve of Labour conference
Andrew Woodcock, Independent, Sep 21 2019

Opponents of Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson have made a dramatic move to unseat him on the eve of the party’s annual conference in Brighton. Watson survived a motion to the ruling National Executive Committee to abolish his position as deputy leader, but could be ousted by another vote on Saturday. In events that threaten to overshadow a conference designed to deliver a unity message ahead of an expected general election, the motion was tabled by the head of the Corbyn-backing Momentum movement, Jon Lansman. Lansman targeted Watson for his position on Brexit. Watson had called for the party to pursue a second referendum before a general election. Lansman criticised Watson for undermining Brexit spox Keir Starmer by doing this on the day of Starmer’s keynote speech to the TUC. Watson said:

This could not have happened without Jeremy Corbyn’s backing. Jeremy has the votes he needs on the NEC, so if he wants it to happen tomorrow, it will happen, and then it will go forward to a vote in conference.

Watson was directly elected by the Labour membership in 2015, gaining 51% of the vote. His position means he cannot be sacked by Corbyn, and he has been a thorn in the side of the leadership over recent years, particularly for his outspoken opposition to Brexit. It is understood that the chair of the NEC ruled Lansman’s motion out of order. His protest against this gained a 17-10 vote, short of the two-thirds majority needed to overrule the chair. However, Saturday’s meeting of the NEC at 10am in Brighton will require only a simple majority to pass the Lansman motion. Watson was unable to attend Friday’s meeting for personal reasons and had no idea that a motion to abolish his position was in the offing. Former Labour leader Ed Miliband said:

The move to abolish the deputy leader post without warning or debate is undemocratic, wrong and should not happen. Those who came up with the idea for the eve of Labour conference have taken leave of their senses.

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