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Tom Watson – an outstanding backbencher even when he was on the front bench

tom watsonThe resignation of Tom Watson from the Labour front bench is a great disappointment. Especially on Murdoch and phone-hacking, he has been an outstanding backbencher even when he was on the front bench. It is tragic that he should be a casualty of the unnecessary fracas over the Falkirk selection, and no doubt this will now be the cause of endless ill-informed and damaging speculation about both Tom himself and Ed’s leadership in keeping with almost everything else written about the Falkirk selection.

The truth of course is that Tom’s heart has not especially been in being in the Shadow Cabinet for a long time (if ever). In the heat of the the phone-hacking scandal, he told Prospect magazine:

The strange thing about this whole affair is that I do genuinely lack personal ambition now. There are things I do because I enjoy it and I’m very ambitious for Ed Miliband but I don’t have to do it. I can do it in whatever capacity. You know if he wanted me out of the shadow cabinet tomorrow I wouldn’t be unhappy.” He laughs. “In fact I’d probably be relieved.”

Tom will undoubtedly continue to be a very fine backbencher on the issues he mentions in his resignation letter:

open government and the surveillance state, the digital economy, drones and the future of conflict, the child abuse inquiries, the aftermath of the Murdoch scandal and grass roots responses to austerity.”

He will undoubtedly continue to be an exemplary campaigner for the Labour Party. And I have no doubt that he will continue to give strong support he has always given to Ed Miliband — by leading the majority of the Ed Balls camp in the leadership election to giving their effective preference to Ed against David Miliband, he was even more significant in Ed’s victory than the collective membership of Unite.

And last but not least, he will be that Labour politician that also has a life. His humanity and love of music has always shone through his tweets. And the recommendation for Drenge, and regret for not having been at Glastonbury last weekend shone out of his resignation letter.

Tom Watson may not be the greatest left-winger in the Labour Party, but we will miss him none the less for it.

Picture: Tom Watson’s twitter image



  1. Alex says:

    A real shame. I find him one of the most likeable prominent Labour politicians. I get the impression that although he is not on The Left, he is somebody who leftwingers could work with. He will be missed.

  2. Robert says:

    I think it’s time for the Unions to say good bye to the Labour party, and the Labour party to come out and state we do not want the eight or none million unions donate, after all Labour believes that money comes with no ties.

    It’s time for Labour to see if it can live without the Unions after all this so called Labour party now is nothing at all like the one in 1945. it’s become New Labour again

    Unions need to disaffiliate let the likes of Miliband go it alone.

    Time for the Tory Lite party to go it alone.

  3. Dean Williams says:

    Tom Watson resigning is understandable but a setback not just for ‘real labour’ but for the party as a whole — personable frontbenchers with a hugely successful campaigning records are not in abundance. But we should see this in the wider context of the right being challenged within the Labour Party and I think their disquiet at not having everything their own way is overall a good sign. The real disgrace in Falkirk is the tiny number of Labour Party members in a CLP electing a solid Labour majority — good on Unite for working everywhere to recruit more of their members to the party and building an organic link between the party and the wider movement.

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