TOM WATSON MP PROFILE

A thorough investigation of Tom Watson MP:

• In June 2017, The Jewish Chronical reported on a message that Tom Watson had sent out to members of The Jewish Labour Movement, along with their annual report, in which he claimed that the Labour Party’s antisemitism ‘crisis’ had gotten “worse” over the past year. The Jewish Chronical called it “a damning indictment of leader Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to tackle the issue”. Watson spoke of Ken Livingstone’s resignation, saying how he was “delighted that at long last” he was no longer a member of the Labour party and then added that he was also “pleased” that Marc Wadsworth had been expelled from the party. He then went on to say that, in his opinion, Jennie Formby had “staked her reputation” on dealing with antisemitism in the party and then he alleged that it wasn’t just a few individual cases of anti-Semitism. He believed, in fact, that it had “wider patterns of association” and he went on to say that in his opinion the leadership had a responsibility to consider what sort of messages they were sending out by their actions. By all accounts, this appeared to be a thinly veiled attack on the Labour Party leadership and on Corbyn’s allies.

• In March 2018, John McDonnell called on Tom Watson to return half a million pounds worth of donations he’d received from Max Mosley (son of Oswald Mosley), a disgraced tycoon who was revealed to have published some vile literature in the 1960’s where he was linking immigrants with a disease and then more recently he’s also made statements in the Guardian where he’d said that it was “perfectly legitimate to offer immigrants financial inducements to go home”. Watson refused to return the money.

• In June 2018, Watson gave an interview to the BBC’s Nick Robinson in which he claimed that Unite trade union leader Len McCluskey was ‘coming for him’ and trying to get him removed as deputy leader.

• In August 2018, a Momentum activist posted on Twitter that since 2015, Tom Watson has received £401,707.63 in direct donations and that some were allegedly from dubious sources and then referenced a link to the Electoral Commission Website for people check for themselves. Vox Political later wrote an article on this thread and included a list of pro-Israel donors, including Max Mosely and Labour Friends of Israel, who had collectively donated over £104k during that period.

• Shortly after this, Watson was attacked on Social media. George McManus, a Momentum-backed candidate for the national policy forum (NPF) compared Watson to Judas being paid to betray Jesus and was immediately disowned by Momentum and suspended by the Labour Party but the hashtag #ResignWatson then started trending on Twitter overnight. This then prompted the Guardian to print an article, the same day, suggesting that Watson was determined to “defy efforts to oust him as Labour deputy leader”

• Watson gave an interview on Channel 4 News in Nov 2018 where he repeated, several times, that there was a ‘problem’ with antisemitism on the Labour left. Interestingly though, he said that while he was aware that the Met Police were criminally investigating Labour Party members for hate crime he didn’t actually know the details of the allegations and he was unable to offer any stats.

• On 13th September 2018, Skwawkbox printed a story about a female Sandwell councillor, Yvonne Davies, who had been bullied by Tom Watson and another, unnamed local MP, simply because she disagreed with his proposal of organising a St George’s Day parade in Sandwell. Yvonne explained that from previous year’s parades it was clear that these were ‘boys only’ events that attracted a nasty element of “unsavoury characters, including BNP members” who would piss in people’s gardens and toss beer cans all along the route. Yvonne proposed doing a family-friendly ‘party in the park’ event instead but Watson wasn’t having any of it and then suddenly it got splashed in the newspapers who showed images of Watson supporting the English flag and quoted him as writing off all the nastiness as just “high spirits.” Effectively he was painting himself as more patriotic than Yvonne and aligning himself with the fascist element who had turned the St George’s Day parade into a BNP march. Yvonne explains that the harassment got worse over time and that Watson was behind attempts to get her deselected as a Sandwell Cllr so she made the decision to move to Langley ward, outside Tom’s constituency, rather than continue to put up with the bullying. I know I shouldn’t comment but I have to wonder how Labour members (and perhaps a large section of the wider Jewish community), might feel knowing that this self-appointed champion heading up the fight against antisemitism in the Labour Party and who claims to give voice to all Jewish Labour members chooses to align himself with BNP supporters and refuses to return over £540,000 in donations from Max Moseley, money inherited from his father Oswald Mosley.

• Also in September 2018, Watson remarked in the Guardian that he thought that recent allegations by a Corbyn aide that intelligence services were working to undermine the Labour Party were ‘a bit John le Carré’. Andrew Murray, a union official and former chair of the Stop the War campaign had said that he had also been targeted and believed that whoever was behind it was likely being funded by the tax payer. However by January 2019 a number of newspapers and other sources started reporting that there was to be an investigation into the use of government funds by the Integrity Initiative, a project run by the Institute for Statecraft, who had allegedly been using social media to attack Labour.

• In January 2019, Tom was quoted in the jewishnews.timesofisrael.com for saying that the UK should demand that Malaysia reverses it’s ban on Israeli Athletes attending the International Paralympic Swimming World Championships and even suggested the event should be cancelled if Malaysia didn’t change its mind.

• On 18th February, as a number of Labour MP’s announced that they were leaving the party to stand as independents, Tom Watson shoots off a warning to Corbyn that more MPs will follow unless he agrees to changes. He releases a statement in response to the news that Luciana Berger and other colleagues had decided to leave the party blaming their departure on what he says is “a virulent form of identity politics that has seized the Labour Party”. He goes on to say that “Antisemitism is a light sleeper and this is certainly a wakeup call for the Labour Party”. He then says “we were slow to acknowledge we had a problem and even slower to deal with it” and suggests that there will be many others in the party, he knows, who will now be asking if they can stay in the party, now the Luciana has left and goes on to suggest that, in his opinion and perhaps as a solution, “the front bench needs to reflect the balance of opinion in the parliamentary Labour Party” (note he does not say balance of opinion in the wider membership, just in the PLP).

• On 19th February, Watson tells Corbyn he must change direction to stop the party splitting and urges him to look at a shadow cabinet reshuffle, saying that he no longer recognises his own party.

• 20th Feb, Tom goes on LBC and tells us that Luciana Berger left the party because she was “driven out by racist bullies”

• On 24th February, Watson goes on the Andrew Marr show and declares that Corbyn has to take a lead on antisemitism in the party if he wants to be PM and urges him to get a grip on Labour ‘antisemitism crisis’

• On 25th February, Politics Home revealed that Tom Watson had set up a ‘social democratic’ group of Labour MPs to ‘broaden the party’s appeal’ and then declared that he would personally monitor all antisemitism cases in the party.

• On the 26th Feb, The Board of Deputies of British Jews tweeted Watson directly complaining about the fact that Chris Williamson has booked a room in Parliament for a Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) screening of Jackie Walker’s WitchHunt film and, ironically, accused Williamson of “trolling the Jewish community” even though Jackie is Jewish and JVL are a Jewish group. Watson replied to say that as soon as he found out he reported it the Chief Whip and General Secretary.

• On 27th February, Watson demanded that Labour suspends Chris Williamson for claiming that the party had been ‘too apologetic’ over antisemitism and Tweets “If it was in my gift I would have removed the whip” from Chris Williamson for what he referred to as a “heavily caveated apology”.

• Tom then re-tweeted a Hope Not Hate post suggesting that Chris Williamson’s recent apology was effectively just his way of baiting the Jewish community by minimising the problem and called for him to be suspended and investigated. Worth noting here that Ruth Smeeth was Hope not Hate’s Deputy Director for 5yrs (between 2010 to 2015).

• Tom also re-tweeted a post from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, also criticising Chris Williamson’s apology and calling on Corbyn to remove the whip. Worth noting here that Gillian Merron is the Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies. Gillian served as a Labour MP during the Blair/Brown years (1997 – 2010) and held a number of senior ministerial posts in Blair’s cabinet, including Lord Commissioner of the Treasury, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport. Gillian was also one of the 98 MPs who voted to support Conservative MP David Maclean’s bill to keep their expenses secret and was consistently in the top 11% of MP’s claiming high expenses, averaging £120,000 in expenses every year between 2001 and 2008.

• Tom then goes on to retweet a further 4 attacks on Chris Williamson from Jane Merrick, Ed Miliband, Rhea Wolfson and Louise Ellman.

• On 28th February, Watson repeats that Luciana Berger was bullied out of the Labour Party and declares it as our ‘worst day of shame’ and then demands an anti-Semitism showdown with Corbyn.

• On 1st March Jennie Formby responds to Tom Watson’s declaration that he was going to personally monitor all antisemitism cases in the party with a scathing letter that she copied to all Labour MPs and Lords. Jennie made it clear that this was not going to happen and that there were legitimate and confidential processes in place that no one in the party had any authority to override and she reminded him that MPs have responsibilities under the GDPR and Data Protection Act of 2018 to safeguard members data and to ensure that it is processed only for clearly defined and lawful purposes.

• Tom openly criticises what he calls Labour’s “processes for dealing with racism and abuse”. In a tweet on 2nd March 2019, he suggested that there was “unacceptable political interference in dealing with antisemitism cases”. This despite the fact that he recently admitted that he is not in possession of all the facts, which is why he suggested he was going to personally take charge of monitoring Antisemitism cases within the party.

• On 7th March, after Tom Watson and Margaret Hodge had made a number of allegations about senior members of the parliamentary Labour Party, accusing them of ‘intervening’ in disciplinary cases, we learn that the ‘Equality and Human Rights Commission’ (EHRC) had been called in to investigate the parties disciplinary procedures. Worth noting here that although the EHRC is supposed to be an independent non-departmental public body (NDPB), there is a credibility issue. The EHRC are, in fact, government funded. It’s also worth noting that a number of EHRC commissioners resigned towards the end of their first term or simply did not seek a second term and back in February 2017, six members of staff were sacked by email and removed from office the same day and a further two were dismissed shortly after. Two Directors were also serving their notice at the time. Consequently, the EHRC did butt heads with the Public and Commercial Services Union and a number of staff managed to win compensation for unfair dismissal. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said at the time that the EHRC’s behaviour was “absolutely reprehensible” and that it was scandalous how a “government body charged with upholding human rights and fair treatment in our society” could treat its staff in this way.

• On 9th March. Allies of Watson are quoted in the Daily Mail as saying they believe the EHRC investigation will end Jeremy Corbyn and that there will be an almighty leadership battle between Watson and John McDonnell.

• On the 11th March, the BBC reports that Tom Watson is heading up a new group within the Labour Party called ‘The Future Britain Group’, supported by Neil Kinnock and Peter Mandelson and that they recently had a meeting of about 130 Labour MPs. Mandelson later admitted that this was an alliance of Blair and Brown supporters but said that the aim was to bring back “democratic socialist values” and to look at “achievable, possible and affordable policies”. Given that the party had recently gone through a wide reaching democracy review and Labour members had platformed a number of policy proposals at conference – this does rather come across as an attempt by the PLP to regain control and re-assert their own political agenda on the party.

• Also on 11th March, the Spectator newspaper revealed that Tom Watson’s new ‘Future Britain Group’ had registered their website on the 18 February, the very same day the Independent Group was launched and the day before the article in the Guardian (see 19th Feb entry above) where he warned Corbyn that he was risking a split in the party and ‘urged’ a cabinet reshuffle.

• In March 2019, the Skwawkbox also posted an expose on Tom Watson’s ties to gambling associations. This will come as quite a surprise to most as Tom has been highly critical of betting firms for quite some time now. His key grievances appeared to have been on addictive Fixed Odds Betting Terminals that allow people to gamble large sums of money in quick succession and also on gambling adverts targeting young and vulnerable people. However, the Skwawkbox revealed that Watson had in fact received donations and gifts from a number of gambling associations.

• On Tom’s background. Tom has been a Member of Parliament for West Bromwich East since 2001

• Watson is a member of the Labour Friends of Israel and even stood as candidate for chairmanship in 2002

• Watson is Vice Chair of Trade Union Friends of Israel (TUFI)

• In 2003, Watson voted in favour of going to war with Iraq and he has consistently voted against an investigation into the war.

• In 2004, Watson was campaign chair for the Birmingham Hodge Hill by-election and was responsible for putting out a leaflet that said “Labour is on your side – the Lib Dems are on the side of failed asylum seekers”

• Later in 2004, Watson was rewarded by Blair and appointed as an Assistant Government Whip.

• Watson was Lord Commissioner of the Treasury, May 2005 – May 2006, under Tony Blair

• He was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, May 2006 – September 2006, under Tony Blair

• On 5th Sept 2006, Watson signed a letter calling for Blair to resign as PM. The Chief Whip, Jacqui Smith, insisted that he either withdraw his signature or resign his post. Watson resigned his post the next day and then put out another statement calling on Blair to resign

• Watson returned as a govt whip in July 2007, after Blair resigned and Brown became PM.

• Tom was Minister for Digital Engagement and Civil Service Issues, Jan 2008 – June 2009, under Gordon Brown

• In 2009 it was revealed that Watson had claimed the maximum £4,800 allowance for food in a single year and that between 2005 and 2009, Watson and Iain Wright had claimed over £100,000 for a central London flat they both shared.

• In 2011, Ed Miliband appointed Tom as Deputy Chair of the National Executive Committee and the Labour Party’s Campaign Co-ordinator for the 2015 general election. However Tom resigned as campaign co-ordinator in July 2013 due to a controversy over the selection of a new parliamentary candidate for Falkirk. One of the prospective candidates, Karie Murphy, who had previously worked as Tom’s office manager, had been suspended due to certain campaign irregularities. Karie had the backing of Unite the Union who were proactively recruiting local Unite members to join the CLP in order to vote for Karie and the Union was paying their membership fees on their behalf (this practice was legitimate at the time). The National Executive Committee (NEC) also sent a report to the police as there were some allegations that Unite might have committed fraud. However the police subsequently stated that there was insufficient grounds to support a criminal investigation at the time.

• Also in 2011, Watson published evidence that was due to be presented to the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics, by Alastair Campbell, the following week. Guido Fawkes also mentioned it in a blog along with references to the source material but the page was quickly withdrawn from Tom’s website so only Paul Staines (editor of Guido Fawkes), was summoned to appear in front of the enquiry. It seems the enquiry decided that Watson had copied it from the Guido Fawkes blog. However, what was unexplained was why Guido had a redacted version but Watson’s version was un-redacted. What’s also interesting is that the summons against Staines was dropped the day before he was due to give evidence.

• In October 2012, Watson expressed concerns in parliament that a paedophile network may have existed in the past that had been protected by their connections to Parliament and involving a close aide to a former Prime Minister. He subsequently passed a file to Met Police and asked them to reopen a closed criminal inquiry into previous allegations. Watson consistently refused to mention any names publicly although he did later make allegations against Leon Brittan after his death.

• Tom was Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, Sept 2015 – June 2017, under Jeremy Corbyn

• In 2015, Watson attacked Labour members protesting against proposed UK airstrikes on Syria and demanded they be removed from the Labour party for “intimidating staff members of an MP” because the vigil was held outside the office of Stella Creasy. His office was later forced to admit that Creasy’s office was actually empty at the time of the protest.

• In Oct 2016, Watson abstained from voting on a Labour Party motion calling for the UK to withdraw support from the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.

• Tom is currently the Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Oct 2017 – present). Aa Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Tom has called for greater scrutiny of Fox’s bid to takeover Sky UK, he also backs the TV licence fee and he has criticised government pressure on Ofcom in relation to its regulation of the BBC. He’s also proposed fairer rail ticketing for football fans.

• Tom has been Deputy Leader of the Labour Party since September 2015.

• Tom recently tweeted about Google’s CEO taking more responsibility over youtube content and called on him to remove Tommy Robinson’s pages under their “hate speech” policy. Remember, this is the man responsible for putting out a leaflet that said “Labour is on your side – the Lib Dems are on the side of failed asylum seekers”.

• Tom recently tweeted to praise Sayeeda Warsi for calling out Islamaphobia in the Tory party.

• Tom is highly critical of Chris Grayling and recently tweeted about the £33m out-of-court Eurotunnel settlement, calling it a “scandalous, needless, reckless waste of public money caused by the Tories’ gross failure in Brexit negotiations”. He’s also spoken of the serious impact that Brexit will have on tourism abroad – referring to increasing cost of holidays; charges for visas to the EU and on mobile usage abroad.

• For someone who takes donations from gambling firms, Tom is surprisingly vocal about problem gambling. In a recent Guardian article Tom explained “Whereas gambling in the offline world is highly regulated, the lack of controls on online gambling is leading to vulnerable consumers suffering huge losses”. However, Tom thinks it’s down to the gambling industry to come up with the solutions, rather than greater government regulation.

• Tom is also highly critical of Fixed Odd Betting Terminals (FOBTs)

• On 24th Feb, Tom tweeted that he would join the ‘Peoples Vote’ rally on the 23rd March, if Theresa May doesn’t sign up to Labour’s red lines before then.

• On 21st Feb, he tweeted that it would be wrong to delay public registers of Britain’s tax havens as this would undermine Parliament’s will, as well as our national security.

• Tom does not favour a no-deal Brexit.

• Tom is highly critical of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and believes that we need “new independent regulation with a tough powers and sanctions regime to curb the worst excesses of surveillance capitalism and the forces trying to use technology to subvert our democracy.” He was also very critical of the fact that it took the death of teenager Molly Russell before Instagram took action and banned graphic self-harm images. Tom has repeatedly attacked social media platforms, or at least their seeming lack of ability to self-police or remove harmful or racist content.

• Watson was highly critical of the DWPs strategy of poaching NHS nurses to undertake PIP disability assessments.

• 15th Feb, he retweeted a post by Kevin Courtney from schoolcuts.org.uk stating that Conservative MP, James Cleverly had asked them to take down their website. They refused to do that but said they’d be happy to meet with him to discuss “the damaging effects school cuts are having and how 91% of schools face cuts between 2015 & 2020.

• Tom supports free TV licenses for the over 75’s

• Tom has been critical of Tory austerity policies and their impact on homelessness

• Tom wants a ban on political social media ads that target UK citizens from overseas.

• Tom has been vocal about the government’s treatment of nuclear test veterans after some Tory MPs had apparently mislead parliament over the effects of Cold War radiation experiments.

• Tom recently tweeted on the anniversary of the death of Sid Vicious that “The world was too cruel to this working class kid who made history. And when I look at these youngsters in @PeoplesMomentum, I think of LPYS discos in the Market Tavern, Kidderminster in the late seventies and cut them a bit of slack.” – which suggests he thinks Momentum members are all a bunch of young dreamers and also that he merely tolerates them rather than supports their ideals.

• Tom talks a lot about how the Advertising Association having a lot to answer for regarding how they allow certain companies to get away with targeting young children with unhealthy sugary cereals by using cartoon in their advertising.

• Tom was rather annoyed when the UK govt decided to drop Corporation Tax to an all-time low of 17% in January 2019. He said it was a “grotesque insult to those battling every day to defend our public services from ruin – and to the millions forced into poverty by Tory austerity” and that when Labour get back into power we would reverse this. I assume he means back to 19% which is what it was up until recently and not back to what it was before Blair walked through the doors at number 10 in 1997. In fact, in 1996 the small profit rate of tax was 24% and the standard rate was 33%. This dropped to 21% – 31%, respectively, in 1997 and was further reduced to 19% – 30% by 2007 (remember this was around the same time that Watson was Lord Commissioner of the Treasury,). Brown actually increased the Tax for small profit rate to 21% but further reduced the standard rate to 28%. The Tories continued the trend, gradually dropping the standard rate until it matched the small profit rate of 19% in 2017. So small businesses benefitted from a 5% drop but larger businesses got a 14% reduction between 1996 and 2019, with a further 2% reduction to be implemented shortly to both rates.

• Watson tweeted a report by the Fabians commenting on how arts are vanishing from our schools and added that Labour would reverse the damage by allocating a £160m arts premium for primary schools and declaring that “Culture must be for all – not the preserve of a wealthy, privileged elite.”

• Tom has tweeted that he supports a £10 minimum wage and an end to zero hour contracts.

• Tom supports putting railways back into public ownership

• Tom believes that Women “must be given full support to escape abusers and find safe haven” and has tweeted about ensuring we have “proper funding of refuges, full legal aid access” and an end to GPs charging “up to £150 for a letter to apply for that legal aid.” In Nov 2018, Tom set up a petition on his personal website calling on GPs to stop charging victims of domestic abuse for letters that enable them to be able to access legal aid, calling it “It’s unfair” and “immoral”. It managed to get 6,556 signatures and, although there have been a few calls for the Health Secretary to ban the practice, no one (including Tom) appears to have made any advances towards actually legislating for a change.

• In Dec 2018, Tom tweeted about the fact that 130 libraries had been closed over the last year saying that he felt that libraries should get more investment, not cuts.

• Also in Dec 2018, Tom retweeted a post about extensive cuts to local authority spending on sports, suggesting that the 2012 Olympic legacy is now in tatters because of govt austerity.

• On 2nd Dec 2018, Tom tweeted in defence of Jess Phillips after she was contacted by Skwawkbox editor, Steve Walker, about rumours that she’d taken a £25,000 advance on a book about MPs standards and also to ask her about how she became aware of, and then came to apply for, a vacancy on a parliamentary standards committee that wasn’t seemingly advertised anywhere else for other Labour applicants to apply. Tom tweeted to say that this was “negative briefing against my colleague” by a “hard left factional blog” and then offered his personal endorsement of Jess Phillips for the post.

• In Nov 2018, Tom tweeted about gambling adverts targeting young children and vulnerable people on social media and called for Operators, broadcasters and the government to take more responsibility but didn’t go as far as talking about whether or not he might propose a bill to tackle the problem. Watson has also tweeted his disapproval over how gambling firms use football as an advertising platform.

• Also in Nov 2018, Tom tweeted an article about 7,000 young people suffering from type II diabetes and called for action to be taken against “global sugar giants peddling poison to our children.” However, again, he failed to mention if he, or anyone else, was considering proposing a bill to tackle the problem.

• Tom supported an amendment, by Stella Creasy and Conor McGinn, to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland so that women in Northern Ireland have the same human rights as women in the rest of the UK.

• In Oct 2012, Tom retweeted a petition, posted by Liz Savage, to reinstate Nurses Burseries

• Tom is highly critical of Universal Credit and has tweeted that he’d like to see it binned.

Koser Saeed

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