How does this stupid attack on Tom Watson help Corbyn?

by Kevin Meagher

Of all the miscues, own goals and careless steps onto garden rakes in recent Labour Party history, last night’s Twitter campaign under the hashtag #ResignWatson is the most senseless and ludicrous so far.

What’s the message? Well, it’s pretty unequivocal: Tom Watson should resign for warning in an interview with The Observer, that there is an urgent need to address the anti-Semitism row engulfing Labour in order to ever win a general election, ‘or disappear into a vortex of eternal shame and embarrassment.’

His critics – the trolls and fruitcakes of social media – logically believe that a) Labour should not address the problem or that b) There is no problem to address.

Clearly, both points are delusional. What’s more, Jeremy Corbyn thinks there’s a problem with anti-Semitism that needs fixing.

‘People who dish out antisemitic poison need to understand: you do not do it in my name. You are not my supporters and have no place in our movement,’ he wrote in The Guardian as recently as last Friday.

Surely all Watson has done is echo Corbyn?

Yes, the party risks being scarred by the taint of anti-Semitism after months of agonising coverage – courtesy of a Jew-hating lunatic fringe that has attached itself to the party – and something needs doing about it.

This has culminated in two former Labour ministers – both with deep ties to the Jewish community – facing disciplinary action for giving vent to their frustrations about the weakness of dealing with the problem that Jeremy Corbyn fully accepts exists. Indeed, Watson’s remedy is modest enough:

‘I think it is very important that we all work to de-escalate this disagreement,’ Watson said ‘and I think it starts with dropping the investigations into Margaret Hodge and Ian Austin.’

‘Ah, but Tom’s not really talking about anti-Semitism – he’s making a coded attack on Jeremy,’ goes for what passes as a thought process on the hard left.

Surely the smart move from those Corbynistas who felt Watson was in some way being disloyal would have been to chide him for stating the bleeding obvious?

Instead, we get a high-profile, well-organised campaign to undermine the party’s Deputy Leader.

Exactly how does any of this help Jeremy Corbyn?

At the very least, it’s externalises tensions at the top of the party, forcing him to denounce the campaign to undermine his deputy in his very next interview. If he doesn’t, then, by implication, he associates himself with the attack. And on the story goes: Labour splits and anti-Semitism.

It’s a lose-lose scenario borne of the essential fact that so many of the people who hitch their wagon to Jeremy Corbyn just don’t care whether Labour ever wins an election again.

What’s particularly irksome, though, is that those closest to him show not an ounce of judgement in stopping this madness.

Personally, I thought Corbyn did himself some good with his Guardian piece. At least it was an attempt – or so it seemed – to act as a firebreak in this wretched run of coverage for the party.

Alas not.

My previous post was about the need for the Labour Leader to show us in word and deed that he is committed to co-existence rather than conflict, otherwise the party’s best days are truly behind it.

As we begin another week in the life of the party, resolutely not talking about jobs and housing, it’s a question he needs to answer with even more urgency.

Kevin Meagher is the associate editor of Uncut

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