Could Tom Watson leave Parliament? Or the shadow cabinet?

23rd May, 2012 10:02 am

There’s a fascinating interview with Tom Watson in this month’s Prospect. Much of the I review is about phone hacking, Murdoch and his disappointment with colleagues who wrote (so soon) for The Sun on Sunday. However, perhaps the most interesting section is about Watson’s future. The West Brom MP told James Macintyre:

“I genuinely don’t know what I’m going to do in my private and political life. I would like to stand again but my seat has been cut in half [in the proposed boundary changes] so I might not be able to stand again. 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…In fact I’d probably be relieved.”

Surely Watson would have no problem getting reselected (or finding a new seat) ahead of 2015? Not only is he one of the most well connected people in the party (and a master of the selection process) he’s also consistently one of the most popular Labour MPs with activists (winning our 2011 MP of the year award.

It’s more plausible that he may one day leave the shadow cabinet to focus on campaigning from the backbench. But hopefully not too soon. As Tory MP Louise Mensch told Prospect, Watson is an asset to the party. One we (and Ed Miliband) can’t afford to lose either from the frontline, or behind the scenes.


  • AlanGiles

    Put yourself in Tom’s place. You campaign against the vile News International empire – you know the dirty tricks they employed, the implied threats against politicians who dared to speak up against them, the frank crudity and dishonesty. 

    Then the defunct News Of the World is revived under a different title, and who is one of the first people so desperate for money he agrees to write for it?.

    The darling of the Blairites David Miliband.

    It is as insulting as it was when Andy Burnham put so much effort into the NHS reforms, his efforts were diminished when Ed Miliband chose a football match over an NHS rally. Miliband made a miraculous overnight recovery, but the meeting and rally had to be cancelled.

    I feel much the same way, and I am not a politician. In the end you have to ask yourself – what’s the point?

    * Earl Swope (1923-1968)

  • ThePurpleBooker

    He should leave the Shadow Cabinet.

    • treborc1

       I doubt the Tories want him.

    • AlanGiles

      What not right wing enough for you?

      Perhaps in a few years time, when people have forgotten about his fiddling and his hypocrisy, they might get that nice Mr Purnell back – just for you

      I hope we never have the “Labour” party you drool about – it would be unelectable because it would be virtually a carbon copy of the coalition, but who knows how stupid and desperate they might get?

      * Bill Harris (1916-1973)

      • Just_Another_Voter

        Fiddling and hypocrisy can also apply to Mr Watson.
        Let’s not forget the £100k he got from the taxpayer to refurbish his London flat and the £4000 a year bills he sent us for food.
        While he criticises the press for smearing people he used to sit with McBride and Dolly Draper(formerly of this Parish) smearing people.

        • AlanGiles

          For sure he is no angel. I certainly don’t condone his expenses fiddling, but at least by exposing the Murdoch organisation he has redeemed himself to some extent – which is more than people like Blears has done. And sadly, we have to tolerate the fact that so many MPs of all parties did (and may still be) fiddling their expenses. Gove, Grayling, Byrne….. Revolting thought, but we shouldn’t be morose……..

          *  Bill Perkins (1924-2003)

          • treborc1

            Nope at least he has now become the hero and anyone who hammers the Murdock’s deserves a medal, but it does show you once this is all over you will still have labour MP’s who will do anything for the extra money.

          • Ian Stewart

            Like Livingstone in the 90’s ?

          • treborc1

            I will not argue I mean Watson may well have done well fighting Murdock, yet he then wrote a book to make money, they are all the same.

        • Kulgan of Crydee

          During his Leveson appearance he denied leaking DCMS information to the media but then was forced to answer yes to feeding to Guardian reporter Nick Davies.

          Add to that his fiddling of expenses (yes as many others did)  a bad day for Tom Watson at Leveson.

      • ThePurpleBooker

        The Labour Party is a centre-left social democratic party which is against what the Coalition is pursuing. I think you need a lesson in political theory!

        • Brumanuensis

          How does this explain your original statement?

        • AlanGiles

          IT might be a “centre left” party but you are very much on the right of it, and don’t be silly enough to pretend otherwise. You also seem to have a special affection for all the expenses scroungers, frequently name-checking the Purnells, Byrne’s etc.

          To be canddid you are not my idea of the typical Labour supporter.

          * Dave Green (1938 –    )

  • treborc1

    I think I could have named the MPs who would have run to the Sun, Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper and David Miliband.

    Will Tom step down it depends I suspect how they will find him another seat, a few MP’s who will be looking for seats and a number of good quality MP’s who might be asked to step down, it’s going to be difficult especially if as we are hearing others like Purnell are also looking for seats.

    I suspect Mr Watson would not like taking another MP’s seat as will Peter Hain who we are hearing might walk away and i suspect into the the house of Lords.

    Some of these people who are writing for the Sun might be better thinking hard if the next battle the computer hacking breaks, if the Murdock’s are then involved these three might want to think hard was it worth it for a few thousand extra in the bank.

  • Kulgan of Crydee

    If Tom Watson did leave the Shadow Cabinet he could work on more books without letting constituency elections getting in the way to spoil it.   Amazing how during Leveson he only ever mentioned News International.  

    The ICO report of 2006 ‘What Price Privacy – Now’ shows that most, if not all of the papers were carrying out illegal activity.  It seems like Tom Watson sees this as a personal crusade against News International for personal reasons which is quite distasteful for a publicly elected official.

    • Daniel Speight

       And yet the industrial scale phone hacking seems to occurred at only one title so far, and that was one from the NI stable. Maybe not so distasteful after all.

      Now who are rather distasteful are those supporting Murdoch.

  • Paul

    He’s an interesting character. I’ve enjoyed his witty circulars to members (though these seem to have dried up) – he is that rare senior politician who comes out as fully human. Taking on the Murdochs took guts and he challenged Ed to come on board on this when this wasn’t an obvious call, and probably proved a game-changer for us. On the other hand, he was one of those plotting to force Gordon Brown’s accession and his decision (I take it that it was his decision) to split the recent Commons report on party lines was questionable. I like him and hope he stays, but I feel he needs to put the whole Murdoch thing behind him and focus on something else where he can be slightly off-message, use his sense of humour and make us sit up and think. 

  • Mike Homfray

    He’s one of the few ‘characters’ left in politics and makes an excellent contribution to the Shadow Cabinet

  • girlguide

    Who cares?  Out in the real world, the eurozone is in meltdown, our living standards are dropping and people are worrying about paying their leccy bills, and whether their pension will pay out.

    Meanwhile you really want us to care about a self obsessed politician, who I seem to remember managed to eat his way through £400 a month of taxpayer funded grub.  £400 a month on food?  We should be so lucky.

    As far as the man and woman in the street is concerned, if Tom Watson exploded from over eating tomorrow, nobody would even know.

  • Cllr M Amesbury

    I quite like Tom, passionate, determined and a character. An asset to the party.

  • Graeme Hancocks

    I hope he does stay in parliament.  He is an outstanding MP and democracy in this country would be the poorer for him leaving parliament. It really would. Please stay!


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