He’s LAB’s deputy with his own separate mandate
It is very hard to think of any other organisation where a deputy can operate in the manner that Tom Watson is doing at the moment. His response to the defection of nine MPs has been very much to sympathize recognising the culture within the party that led to their decisions. He’s also forwarded to the leadership 50 cases of anti-semitism which he wants investigating.
You wonder what Seamus Milne, Len McCluskey, and Jeremy Corbyn think about this which looks like a direct challenge to the man who was elected leader in 2015 and was reelected a year later each time with a second substantial majority.
Tom Watson was elected deputy at the same time as Corbyn in 2015 and is effectively unsackable by the leader. My reading is that the only way of getting rid of him is to put forward a challenge to his position and there would be another deputy leadership election. That would then be voted on by the membership.
Watson wants his new group to give a platform to those MPs whose views are not currently represented within Corbyn’s shadow cabinet and effectively to give them a voice and help them shape policy.
As TSE pointed out yesterday it was Tom Watson in 2006 who initiated what looked like being a series of minsterial resignations which led to Tony Blair announcing that he would step down the following year. He’s somebody who understands the party and it’s machinations and clearly has a lot of support.
He’s not someone you don’t want as your enemy and he sees his role as protecting Labour.
The biggest issue that will be focused on in the coming days and weeks, no doubt, will be the way that Corbyn and his team have been deflecting the growing calls within the party to back a second referendum on Brexit. The danger for Corbyn is that if a No Deal brexit does take place then he will be seen as jointly responsible with the Tories. This will be Corbyn’s Nick Clegg tuition fees moment writ large – not to be forgotten.