Tom Watson

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Person.png Tom Watson  
Tom Watson.jpg
Born Thomas Anthony Watson
8 January 1967
Sheffield, United Kingdom
Alma mater University of Hull
Religion Anglicanism
Children 2
Spouse Siobhan Watson
Party Labour

Employment.png Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office

In office
14 September 2015 - Present

Employment.png Deputy Leader of the Labour PartyLabour Party Chair

In office
12 September 2015 - Present
Preceded by Harriet Harman

Employment.png Deputy Chair of the Labour Party

In office
7 October 2011 - 4 July 2013

Employment.png Minister for Digital Engagement

In office
25 January 2008 - 5 June 2009

Employment.png Member of Parliament for West Bromwich East

In office
7 June 2001 - Present

Tom Watson (born 8 January 1967) is a British Labour Party politician who was elected as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in September 2015. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for West Bromwich East since the 2001 General Election and was Minister for the Civil Service at the Cabinet Office from 2008 to 2009.[1]

In October 2011, Ed Miliband appointed Watson as the Deputy Chair of the Labour Party and the Labour Party's Campaign Co-ordinator for the 2015 General Election.[2] He resigned from both roles in July 2013 following a controversy over the selection of a new parliamentary candidate for Falkirk to replace Eric Joyce.[3]

On 12 September 2015, Watson was elected as his party's Deputy Leader, alongside Jeremy Corbyn, the new Leader of the Labour Party,[4] gaining 198,962 votes (50.7%), including second preference votes.[5]

On 9 July 2016 Len McCluskey, the leader of Britain’s biggest trade union Unite, attacked a decision by Tom Watson to call off a meeting between Jeremy Corbyn supporters and rebelling MPs as an “act of sabotage” against the Labour party:

"I am dismayed at the statement issued by Tom Watson announcing his withdrawal from talks aimed at resolving the crisis in the Labour party,” he said. “Extraordinarily, I received no notice of this statement before it was issued. I had made arrangements for a meeting of trade union leaders, Tom Watson and representatives of the PLP and the party leader for tomorrow, arrangements requested by Tom Watson and his colleagues, specifically for Mr Watson’s convenience. In that context, when the possibility of a workable plan had never seemed closer, Tom Watson’s actions today can only look like an act of sabotage fraught with peril for the future of the Labour party.” McCluskey added: “I must clarify one point in Tom Watson’s statement: I made it absolutely clear from the outset of these discussions that Jeremy Corbyn’s resignation as the leader was not on the agenda. Watson knew that, and it is entirely wrong to suggest that any public statement by Jeremy represented any change in the situation. This is a deeply disingenuous manoeuvre."[6]

In August 2016, Watson criticised Jeremy Corbyn for nominating human rights lawyer Shami Chakrabarti for a peerage without having consulted him. The Board of Deputies of British Jews were also critical of the nomination, saying it compromised the independence of an inquiry recently headed by Chakrabarti into antisemitism in the Labour party.[7]

Iraq War

In 2003, Tom Watson voted for the Iraq War,[8] and subsequently voted consistently against an investigation into the war.[9]

Letter to Blair

On 5 September 2006, it was reported that Watson had signed a letter to Tony Blair urging the Prime Minister's resignation to end the uncertainty over his succession.[10] The Government Chief Whip, Jacqui Smith, told Watson that evening that he must either withdraw his signature to the letter, or resign his post. On 6 September 2006, he resigned his ministerial position and released a further statement calling on Blair to resign:[11]
It is with the greatest sadness that I have to say that I no longer believe that your remaining in office is in the interest of either the party or the country ... How and why this situation has arisen no longer matters. I share the view of the overwhelming majority of the party and the country that the only way the party and the government can renew itself in office is urgently to renew its leadership.

Tony Blair was quoted by the BBC as saying that the statement and letter from Watson was "disloyal, discourteous and wrong" and that he would be seeing Watson later in the day. He said that he had planned to dismiss Watson from Government for having signed the letter urging him to resign. Within days of the incident suggestions appeared that Watson had been to Chancellor Gordon Brown's residence in Scotland only the day before the memo was sent to Blair. Watson claimed he was dropping off a present for Brown's new baby Fraser and that neither the issue of the note, nor "any politics" were discussed.

As Watson recounted on his weblog, his reception at the Labour Party Conference a few weeks after his resignation got a mixed reaction from Labour Party colleagues. Some sought him out to congratulate him, whilst others sought him out to be sarcastic or to be abusive. One such encounter was with Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who asked Watson, whilst he was waiting to be interviewed by Channel 4 News, if he was "going to resign again?"

Friend of Israel

Tom Watson is vice president of Trade Union Friends of Israel.[12]

Put on eBay

On 30 June 2016, Evolve Politics reported that Tom Watson had been put on eBay and was described as "Not working properly. May need new batteries?"[13] The description goes on to state that the “buyer can collect” or the seller is prepared to “put him on a pallet and have him delivered.” The seller advises customers that he also has "a lovely Hilary Benn action figure" who "talks about bombing and undermining the democratically elected Leader of the Labour Party."[14]  

Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Dear Tom, about this Trotsky thing…..article11 August 2016Jeff GouldingTom Watson, Corbyn’s deputy, has launched an astonishing and utterly ridiculous attack on his leader’s supporters. In it he claimed that “Trotskyists are twisting the arms of young Labour members”.
Margaret Hodge reflects on Jeremy Corbyninterview16 August 2016Peter HennessyI know John McDonnell and Ken Livingstone. And I've known Jeremy Corbyn for 35 years when he first became the MP for Islington North and I was leader of Islington Council in local government. I know what they're about: they want the party to be a movement.


  1. "Resignation". Tom Watson MP. 5 June 2009. 
  2. "Unveiling Labour's new guard". BBC News. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  3. "Tom Watson quits as Labour election campaign chief". BBC News. 4 July 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  4. "Labour leadership contest live: Will Jeremy Corbyn win? - BBC News". 
  5. "Results of The Labour Leadership contest". Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  6. "Len McCluskey attacks Tom Watson for pulling out of Labour talks"
  7. "Tom Watson criticises Shami Chakrabarti peerage nomination"
  8. "Tom Watson". 
  9. "Tom Watson". 
  10. "Minister joins Blair exit demands", BBC News Online, 5 September 2006; retrieved 6 September 2006
  11. "Blair under pressure to name day", BBC News Online, 6 September 2006; retrieved 6 September 2006.
  12. Robert Philpot (26 September 2015). "Shadow cabinet set for battle over Israel". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  13. "Tom Watson on eBay"
  14. "Someone’s put Labour Deputy Tom Watson on eBay, and it’s utterly brilliant"