Tom Watson MP: Momentum-Unite plot could destroy Labour Party

The future existence of the Labour Party is at risk, deputy leader Tom Watson has warned amid claims that hard left supporters of Jeremy Corbyn are plotting a takeover in a secret deal with Unite union boss Len McCluskey.

Tony Watson speech
Deputy Labour leader and West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson

Mr Watson said it was clear the threat was real after a recording emerged of the founder of Momentum - the grassroots activists group which helped propel Mr Corbyn to the leadership - discussing the prospects of gaining Unite's backing.

Jon Lansman was said to have told supporters he expected the union - together with the Communication Workers Union (CWU) - to affiliate to Momentum if Mr McCluskey wins his battle for re-election as Unite general secretary.

Warning that such a move could "destroy" Labour, West Bromwich East MP Mr Watson said he would raise the matter with Mr Corbyn.

Unite chief deal claims
Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary

Mr Watson said he did not know if Mr Corbyn was aware of the Momentum situation.

The deputy Labour leader told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "They organised for him, but I'm not sure if Jeremy knows there's a secret plan. I'll be raising it with him today.

"I'm going to talk to him about it, I don't know what he knows and doesn't know.

"I'm the deputy leader and I didn't know about it until I heard this recording. And I regard this as a battle for the future existence of the Labour Party. This is high stakes.

"What Jon Lansman has outlined is a plan with Len McCluskey, the leader of Unite, to take control of the Labour Party."

Mr Watson said he wanted the Labour leader to "deal with" Mr Lansman.

"The significance of this is that we have never seen the biggest union organising a political faction within the Labour Party with the tacit approval of the leadership," Mr Watson said.

Responding to initial attacks from Mr Watson, Mr Lansman said: "For 20 years the left was denied a voice. We will deny a voice to no-one. We face big challenges and we need our mass membership to win again."

The row erupted after The Observer obtained a tape of Mr Lansman's remarks, which were said to have been secretly recorded at a meeting of a newly-formed Momentum branch in Richmond, south-west London, earlier this month.

He is quoted as saying: "Assuming that Len McCluskey wins the general secretaryship, which I think he will, Unite will affiliate to Momentum and will fully participate in Momentum, as will the CWU."

He went on to tell activists it was "absolutely crucial" that they secured a change to the party's rules to ensure that whenever Mr Corbyn stands down, they are able to get a candidate on to the ballot paper to succeed him.

Currently, a candidate must obtain the support of 15% of Labour MPs and MEPs in order to stand - a threshold a new left-wing contender is unlikely to be able to achieve.

Momentum insisted there were no current plans for Unite to affiliate and said it had not received any funds from the union.

A spokesman said Mr Lansman had been speaking in "an aspirational manner" about the possibility of Unite and the CWU affiliating to Momentum.

A Unite spokesman said: "As Unite has stated, repeatedly, it is for the Unite executive council, not the general secretary, to agree to which bodies our union aligns. There are no plans whatsoever for Unite to affiliate to Momentum, as has, again, been made repeatedly clear.

"It is extraordinary that the deputy leader of the Labour Party continues to interfere in Unite's democracy in this way."

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Comments for: "Tom Watson MP: Momentum-Unite plot could destroy Labour Party"

Osborne's Gloves

Tom, I have news for you, the Labour Party is already dead.

markie

Yes, but not yet buried.

I would bet that John MacDonnell is behind this and that Corbyn knew about it already.

Warley Steve

The only plot I've seen is the plp's weekly attacks our leader aided by the London Tory press and the BBC.

We voted in Jeremy in a resounding victory, our clp's we will soon be voting out the rich Tories who say they are Labour.

They cant put every clp into special measures

black country born

The BBC are and always have been anti Tory.

The Labour Party are sleep walking into oblivion by being slowly taken over by extreme left wing militants.

Remember the late 70's early 80's And what the militant union barons did to Labour, all they did was destroy a credible Labour Party and opened the door for Maggie.

Nemo

Perhaps if you allowed fully paid up members of the Labour Party to have a vote, then none of this would be necessary! http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/corbyns-new-labour-members-barred-12747421

Leveller

It is Watson and his Blairite friends in Parliament and in the media who will destroy the Labour party by not accepting the overwhelming vote to elect Jeremy Corbyn as leader. They are determined to hold onto power at any cost and continue with their failed Tory-lite policies.

Christian97

Yes there was an overwhelming vote to keep Corbyn, but by the very people who want and indeed already have taken over the labour party.

As a centre left supporter I now find myself more aligned to the tories than to labour because I can assure you it will be a cold day in hell before I vote for a labour party controlled by the their current membership

Jenko67

Well said Tom Watson.

To quote Angus Robertson at the weekend "At the moment, The Labour Party couldn't deliver a pizza".

All these Corbyn supporting "people" need to get their heads out of the sand and realise that with "Dear Leader" in charge, we are heading for complete oblivion. He makes Foot look competent.

McCluskey, like certain other union leaders, like Sewotka, aren't interested in representing their members but furthering their own political ambitions. There are a disgrace to the Trade Union movement.

The Copleand result should have seen him off, the local election results should give us a resounding reason to see the back of this 1970's dinosaur anD his completely cloud cuckoo land politics.

BRING IN DAN JARVIS AND HILLARY BENN.

Aynuck

It hardly matters who leads the Labour party, because voters do not trust them on important issues like immigration and pay or working conditions which their policies when in government helped to erode.

They are split and currently incapable of opposing in Parliament anything that Theresa's Tories want to do, and if a general election took place within the next twelve months Labour will be annihilated and they know it.

It's one thing to have soap dodging unemployable purple haired activists and agitators, with bits of metal stuck through various parts of their anatomy on the streets shouting the odds and supporting Commie Corbyn, but when it comes to voting in an election the result in Copeland, and the very narrow escape because of their opponents incompetence at Stoke are a more accurate reflection of voter intentions.

Labour do not appear to have a cohesive immigration policy, instead describing their own erstwhile supporters who express concern as 'racist xenophobic bigoted little Englanders' in a vain attempt to suppress debate and to evade the issue when questioned about increasing voter concern with regard to uncontrolled mass immigration.

Labour have failed to understand why they were routed at the last general election and they seem incapable of accepting the valid concerns of voters across the political spectrum, instead wrongly asserting that everyone 'blames immigrants' for our current economic situation.

We don't.

We blame Labour politicians.

charlie.bear.5836

Looks like mad Seamus and Karie will soon have absolute control.

Such fun!

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