Tom Watson attacks Momentum for trying to “take control” of Labour

Tom Watson has attacked Momentum for trying to “take control of the Labour Party”.

Labour’s deputy leader told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that a leaked Observer tape revealed “a hard left plan … to take control of the Labour party”. He said he would be speaking to Corbyn about this.

This comes after a recording emerged of Momentum founder, Jon Lansman, expressing his belief that Unite will affiliate to the Corbyn supporting organisation if Len McCluskey is reelected general secretary.

A Momentum spokesperson said Lansman was speaking in an “aspirational manner”. A Unite spokesperson clarified: “Affiliation to Momentum is a matter for our executive council alone and no discussion on the matter is scheduled.”

In a conversation with Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley, on Twitter, Lansman clarified this position. He said Momentum hadn’t “received a penny” from Unite. “And it won’t unless it is agreed through the proper process”.

Last night Watson attacked Lansman on Twitter saying “You’ve revealed your plan. If you succeed you will destroy the Labour Party as an electoral force. So you have to be stopped.” But Lansman rejected this line of argument saying Labour “need our mass membership to win again”.

Christine Shawcroft, Momentum director and a member of Labour’s national executive committee, responded to Watson’s comments on the Today programme this morning. She said there’s a democratic deficit in the Labour party and that people in positions of power don’t reflect the views of the majority of members who voted for Jeremy Corbyn.

Shawcroft said that Labour’s leadership contest rules should be changed to make it easier to MPs to get on the ballot paper. A lower threshold would mean potential candidates would need the support of fewer MPs in order to secure their name on the ballot paper, which then goes to member. Shawcroft said MPs shouldn’t have a veto over leadership candidates.

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