Tuesday, 13 Apr 2021

Len McCluskey’s furious message to Tom Watson: ‘F*****g be ashamed of yourself!’

Labour: Tom Watson criticised by Len McCluskey in 2019

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is currently struggling to contain dissenting voices in his party, as well as manage his declining popularity among the public. His newest challenge is defending the seat of Hartlepool in its upcoming by-election after Labour MP Mike Hill announced his resignation last month. Once considered a Labour safe seat – as was much of the north of England – Hartlepool looks increasingly likely to fall into the hands of the Conservative Party.

Many say this will only confirm the notion that Sir Keir has yet to get a grip on the electorate.

Added to this is the piling pressure he faces from within his own party, as well as influential figures around him.

Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union – Labour’s biggest single donor – has pitted himself as one of Sir Keir’s biggest opponents in recent months.

After gifting him some respite, Mr McCluskey launched into a furious attack on Sir Keir after he moved to suspend former leader Jeremy Corbyn from the party, only to reinstate his membership but never return the whip.

Writing in the Independent last month, Mr McCluskey blasted the Labour leader for a “lack of authenticity”, urging him to stick to his ten pledges he promised to deliver on being elected last year – two of which he has already written off.

Mr McCluskey, a staunch and committed Corbynite, is unlikely to back down, with his previous rhetoric aimed at Labour members similar in ideology to Sir Keir perhaps a sign of things to come.

In July 2019, during the Durham Miners’ Gala – a labour festival that has become synonymous with the party – the Unite leader exploded into a tirade against then deputy leader Mr Watson.

Mr Watson had long since been branded as an opponent of Mr Corbyn despite the pair sharing the highest offices of the Labour Party.

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He was a fierce critic of many of Mr Corbyn’s allies, as well as his introduction of radical grassroots groups into the life blood of the party.

At the time, Mr Watson was locked in a bitter battle with Jennie Formby, Labour’s then general secretary who was set to undergo treatment for breast cancer.

They disagreed over whether she and Mr Corbyn’s communications chief, Seumas Milne, interfered in antisemitism cases and deleted emails, following a damning BBC Panorama documentary into antisemitism in the party.

In response to Mr Watson taking on Ms Formby, Mr McCluskey used the Miners’ Gala to make his position clear, and said: “Whilst I’m talking about right-wing critics it would be risk remiss of me not to mention the disgraceful attacks levelled at our General Secretary Jenny Formby.


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“Wrong in normal circumstances, but when Jenny is fighting cancer, they are despicable.

“So I have a simple message for Tom Watson and his pals in the media, you should f****ng well be ashamed of yourself.”

His words were met with a roar of applause from the crowd.

In the months after he and Mr Corbyn clashed on several policy issues, the biggest being Brexit.

Mr Watson, during a speech in September 2019, said Labour should “unequivocally back Remain” in a second referendum.

Mr Corbyn snapped back and said he did “not accept or agree with” his deputy’s view.

The locking of horns eventually led to Mr Watson stepping down as deputy leader and an MP in December of that year shortly before the election.

He initially said he had left for “personal, not political” reasons.

However, in an interview with The Guardian later on that month, he said he had left Parliament because of the “brutality and hostility” he experienced within Labour.

Talking about the election defeat and Mr Corbyn’s strategy, he said: “I don’t even know what the message of our campaign was.

“There were announcements everywhere, but none of them got through because there were so many.

“You knew what Boris Johnson’s was: Get Brexit done.

“What was the Labour strapline?”

Source: Read Full Article

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