The Labour party’s former deputy leader, Tom Watson, has tried to shift the blame of his failed political career onto the party’s intellectual fabric and ideological direction.
Speaking to The Guardian, Watson, who quit party and Parliament last month, has blamed Jeremy Corbyn’s “advisers” for his downfall.
In an open admission of disloyalty, Watson admits voting for the leadership challenger, Owen Smith, in the 2016 Labour party leadership contest. As deputy leader, Watson was expected to vote for the incumbent (and eventual winner) Jeremy Corbyn.
In a familiar arrogant streak, Watson brushes aside accusations of disloyalty by proclaiming that he doesn’t “take kindly to being told what to do”.
Watson reduces the Labour party’s poor performance in the general election to “Brexit, “Corbyn”, “a manifesto that overpromised”, and a “failure to unite the left and centre of the party”.
Watson goes on to pose a rhetorical question by asking if the Labour party “in its current form” actually wants power.
“The ultimate betrayal of working-class people is not to take power when you can, and if you are a party that believes in power through elections, then that requires pragmatism, prioritisation, compromise and collaboration”, Watson added.
Watson’s self-serving account is expected to do little to assuage criticism that he was disloyal to both his leader and party, especially by departing the political arena just before an all-important general election.
Furthermore, in his interview with the Guardian, Watson fails to address his personal failings as a politician and role model. Just a couple of months before the general election, Watson came under severe criticism over his role in a bungled police investigation into historic sexual abuse claims.
There is mounting speculation that Watson’s intervention is a last ditch attempt to sabotage the left wing of the Labour party ahead of a leadership contest.
Hitherto, only two Labour MPs have formally declared their intention to contest the leadership, namely the shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, and shadow Treasury minister, Clive Lewis.
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