Tag Archives: tom-watson

Tom Watson and the mob

Tom Watson has been mired in controversy recently, following last week’s Panorama documentary raising doubts about the Dolphin Square paedophile ring allegations. The allegation is that he abused his position using parliamentary privilege to highlight rape allegations being made against Leon Brittan. Following an intervention by David Cameron, Watson has now hit back swinging, arguing that the people who deserve an apology are the victims of abuse.

There’s a risk that the issue has now become so hopelessly politicised that we may never see any justice coming out of it. I agree with Watson, up to a point. The focus really needs to be on helping the victims of abuse, not the reputations of politicians.

Where I depart from Watson’s analysis is that I’m not convinced the victims’ interests have been best served by Exaro and Watson’s intervention. There appears to have been pressure on child abuse victims to identify Leon Brittan, Harvey Proctor et al despite a paucity of actual evidence. Getting them justice is one thing; using them to target VIPs, using fallout from the Jimmy Savile atrocity as cover is quite another. Using survivors of child abuse to advance your political agenda and career is a pretty egregious act. So excuse me if I resist the temptation to pick Watson’s side in this latest row (or any side at all for that matter).

The thing with Tom Watson is that he has form. In 2004, Watson ran Liam Byrne’s by-election campaign in Birmingham Hodge Hill. The “pro-technology” MP ran a campaign attacking the Lib Dem candidate for being too pro-phone masts. Somewhat more notoriously, his England flag-adorned, anti-immigrant leaflets managed the feat of uniting both Nick Cohen and the Socialist Worker Party in condemnation.

As a party activist at the time, one of the most striking aspects of the Tom Watson era of by-election campaigning was the practice of following rival candidates around with mobs. It reached the point where candidates had to be surrounded by an entourage at all times ready to protect the candidate. It may be Jeremy Corbyn who is identified with the sort of behaviour we saw outside the Conservative Party conference last week, but Watson has been a keen proponent of this tactic in the past – except in his case this had nothing to do with keeping an issue in the public eye but a more straightforward form of intimidation and bullying.

The thing is, if you follow his career, Watson is quite partial to the mob. Whether it is the hacking scandal or child abuse, wherever there is a large amount of righteous moral outrage, Watson unfailingly places himself at the centre of it. With his more recent campaigns, we can at least console ourselves that the targets tend to be the powerful, but his practice remains the same; stoking up anger and hyperbole rather than being the voice of reason.

Like a lot of people, I suspect Tom Watson’s affinity for moral indignation has a little bit too much to do with what he gets out of it than the issues themselves, and it is fair to say that he has done very well out of the campaigns he has tied himself to. But it is reasonable to question whether demagogues really have the people they are superficially championing at heart.

Honest Tom

I often slag Guido/Paul Staines off on this blog. The truth is, I don’t like the man’s politics which veer wildly between being an apologist for the Conservative Party under the guise of neutrality and total nihilism.

But the truth is, if he didn’t exist we’d need to invent him. His latest post on Tom Watson is a case in point. Utterly shameless, if ever there was a poster child for all that is wrong with that partcular faction of New-Labour-Same-As-The-Old-Labour MPs, it is Comical Tommy.

Homeopaths resort to legal action to cure all headaches

A few weeks ago, the political blogosphere united to condemn the actions of Alisher Usmanov and his lawyers for attempting to shut down Craig Murray’s blog. We were right to do so; what made Usmanov’s actions particularly reprehensible was the way he used the law to intimidate Murray’s hosting company while cowardly avoiding a fight with Murray’s publisher who had already printed the allegations two years previously.

Now, Ben Goldacre draws our attention to another attempt to shut down a blogger. This time the fight is between a scientist and the Society of Homeopathy.

Andy Lewisallegations seem quite straightforward. The Society has clear guidelines and Andy has what appears to be relatively clear evidence that one of its members is in breach of these guidelines. This isn’t about homeopaths making exaggerated claims about curing head colds to middle class Brits either, but involves potentially dangerous attempts to market homeopathy as a cure for malaria in Kenya.

Andy Lewis demanded answers: the response was a writ issued to his hosting company who subsequently took down the offending article. Sound familiar?

Sound familiar? It should do. There’s a growing list of bloggers who are protesting about this. So come on then Tom, Iain, Guido, Tim and others, how about it?

I’m cultured, like, innit?

Me, Silvio and Cherie
Fair dos to the Backbencher for mocking an article I wrote at work this week; I can’t pretend I didn’t walk into it. But if Ros really wants to portray me as an snooty cultural elitist and, by implication, herself as a horny-handed daughter of toil, she’s going to have to explain to me what a ‘bresaola’ is.

On a related note, Tom Watson thinks I should get a proper job. References to pots and kettles are little redundant, aren’t they?

EXCLUSIVE: I’m confused about who is a Tory and who is Labour

Can someone sort this out for me. Earlier today, Pravdale was claiming that the Tories had claimed another Labour scalp in Ealing, but Comical Tommy is claiming this is balls. Yet Pravdale still hasn’t issued a correction – which in fairness to him he usually does do relatively promptly. Either way, this potentially explosive story doesn’t appear to have had the same impact as Shappgate, which is odd.

So who is telling the truth?

In some respects, this is entirely understandable. I can’t tell the difference between Tories and Labour at the best of times these days, yadda yadda yadda…

EXCLUSIVE: Splitting and spinning

The ongoing farces within the Labour and Tory camps about their respective Ealing Southall candidate selections are quite eye-watering.

First we hear allegations (still undenied, as far as I’ve been able to see) that Tony Lit only approached the Tories to be their candidate after the Lib Dems rejected him. Shortly after that, a disgruntled Conservative Vice Chair defects. Then we hear that not only is Labour abandoning its all-women shortlist (as I’ve blogged before, Labour uses the option of all-women shortlists as a tool to get cronies selected and non-cronies blocked) but has blocked a viable local female candidate. And now it turns out that their selected candidate is being accused of running a dirty tricks campaign. And that’s just in four days!

The other interesting thing to emerge is that Grant Shapps appears to think that the way to win elections is not to get on with the hard work of campaigning (their FIRST campaign day is still in three days time, remember!), but to embark on some kind of dirty protest, smearing his opponents left, right and centre. One small flaw in his plan: very few Ealing Southall residents actually read Iain Dale’s blog. It is notable that his allegations don’t appear to be attracting any wider attention. The one thing he appears to have achieved is to make me think of Tom Watson as less of a shit in comparison. Significant though that may be, it is hardly much of a boost to the Tory campaign.

As a side point, it is notable at how worried the Tories clearly are about the Lib Dems at the moment. A good example yesterday was Iain Dale’s attack on Ming’s performance on PMQs. A blatant attempt to unspin what was generally considered to be a good performance, it has left him looking quite silly. It’s notable, for example, at how relatively unconcerned he was about Cameron’s performance. His obsession is trying to put Ming in as bad a light as possible gets the better of him too often. It’s just such a shame that so many people within the Lib Dems seem to think it is objective analysis.

On a slightly more serious note, one thing I’ve begun to notice is that the political blogosphere is starting to get more shrill, just as it was in the run up to the 2005 General Election campaign. I admit to being partially responsible for this – I have a party to defend like anyone else (and things like that poster lottery smear really warrant rebuttal). But it does leave me wondering whether this blog is sustainable and whether discretion will force me eventually to stop, just as I did in 2004-5. Hmmm…

…oh, and yes, the “EXCLUSIVE” is satirical again. Sorry.

Comical Tommy’s War against Information

Via Iain Dale, I come across Tom Watson‘s spirited defence of his decision to back the Freedom from Information (none of your fucking business) Bill. Apparently, the Tories Made Him Do It. But, for a bit more detail, here is his argument point-by-point (I’d comment on his blog, but he banned me years ago):

1. If the speaker had not guaranteed that MP’s expenses will continue to be published, I would not have supported the Bill. I repeat – you will still be able to see the expense tables like you have been able to for the last three years.

This is a mischevious half-truth. The fact is there are currently numerous appeals to the Information Commissioner calling for MPs to disclose more detailed information. The Commons’ expenses disclosure isn’t even close to the Scottish Parliament where literally every single invoice is available to view online.

Note that he says “you will still be able to see the expense tables like you have been able to for the last three years” – in other words the detailed information about travel expenses published earlier this year as a result of a case brought forward by Norman Baker would be the first to go.

2. Despite people saying that there is protection under the Data Protection Act, public sector bodies are still revealing the private correspondence between them and MPs regarding constituents.

If it is illegal now and yet people are doing it, it follows that it will still happen if this new Bill is passed. How does passing another law stop people who are already breaking the law? The issue is enforcement – yet the government forces the Information Commissioner to get along with a shoestring budget.

3. This Bill was put forward by the former Tory Chief Whip. Don’t be fooled by the disingenous comments and synthetic outrage of Iain Dale and his chums. Incidentally, he seemed to know how many MPs from each party had voted on the Bill yesterday afternoon – before they are made available in Hansard. He can only have got this information from a source in one of the Whips offices (I’m certain the parliamentary clerks would not help him). This suggests to me that he is part of a Tory spin operation – understandable but funadamentally dishonest in regard to this piece of legislation.

This is worth looking at because it is simply hilarious. Like Iain Dale, I was following the debate on Hansard, which now has less than a three hour time lag. I certainly agree with Tom that the Tories were equally complicit, but I don’t extend that criticism to individuals like Richard Shepherd, John Redwood and, yes, Iain Dale, any more than I do Labour rebels like David Winnick. For Watson to try to blame the Tories for this Bill when Labour has a majority and three times as many of them voted for the Bill as Tories is just eye watering, Comical Tommy stuff.

4. Finally – If Menzies Campbell thought so strongly about this Bill, why wasn’t he there to speak and vote against it?

Because like most MPs he usually has constituency work on Fridays. We can’t all lounge around in Westminster ready to serve as government lickspittles at a moment’s notice.

If I wanted to sum up everything that I truly find deplorable about the Labour Party, it is Tom Watson. A dirty tricks campaigner par excellence, a House of Lords abolitionist (and simultaneously supporter of the status quo), anti-electoral reform, pro-compulsory voting, bemoans the civil liberty implications of RFID tags while voting enthusiastically for ID cards, die-hard Blairite loyalist right up until he can detect the wind has changed whereupon he attempts to orchestrate a coup for newfound best friend Gordon Brown, friends of even bigger moron Sion Simon… what it all adds up to is a nasty little man who is just a little bit too much in love with totalitarianism.

Oh, and if you haven’t done so already, join the Protect Freedom of Information Facebook Group.

Scottish Elections: it ain’t over ’til its over

Today’s poll in the Times alone does not indicate a trend, but it does conform with what I suspected would happen as we got closer to polling day. The only thing that seems to be losing public support more quickly than the SNP is Scottish independence. People want to give Labour a kicking, but the more polling day looms, the more the Scots appear to be realising that a populist demagogue like Salmond at the controls would be disastrous.

Meanwhile, Salmond appears to be in meltdown mode:

Mr Salmond warned of a “huge public backlash” if the unionist parties “cobble together to circumnavigate the will of the Scottish people”.

I’m sorry, but what? If the majority of the Scottish people reject the separatist parties, we should give them what they want anyway? Part of me would quite like to see us call the SNP’s bluff and let a referendum go ahead, but if independence is less popular than the independents – which it appears to be by almost 2-1 – perhaps Salmond ought to be a little less keen in pressing ahead regardless. The more he shrill he sounds, the more his support is likely to peel away.

He may be comforted to find he has an ally in Tom Watson, who appears to think that the fact that PR is preventing the Scots from having independence foisted on them without their consent is a bad thing.