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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Labour in self-destruct mode

After reporting yesterday on the attempted abolition of Labour's student movement on the eve of a General Election and the week before freshers' fair, I am astonished that this appears to be just the start of Labour in-fighting, with a move by Momentum today to abolish Tom Watson's Deputy Leader post, effectively sparking a civil war within the party.

As the Guardian reports, 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.

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; but that 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 today’s meeting, where it is expected to pass and be put before Conference. 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.:

Watson, the 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.

And most recently he has made a series of off-message interventions in the Brexit debate, including most recently giving a speech calling for Labour to support a referendum before a general election.

Some Labour MPs expressed alarm about the surprise move to oust the deputy leader. Jess Phillips warned of what she called “a desperate attempt to control and expel anyone who has an independent thought”.

As Labour MP, Wes Streeting said in a tweet: 'Labour Conference this week needs to put the Party on a general election footing - talking to the country about our vision for Britain. For @jonlansman and @PeoplesMomentum to try and remove our Deputy Leader @tom_watson isn’t just outrageous, it’s self-destructive and must stop.'

However, it appears that those behind this move just cannot help themselves. Nor are they able to restrain themselves in proceeding with challenging some sitting MPs just weeks away from the country going to the polls. It is little wonder many people consider Labour to be unfit for government.
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