Tom Watson

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Person.png Lord Tom Watson   WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Lord Watson.webp
BornThomas Anthony Watson
8 January 1967
Sheffield, United Kingdom
Alma materUniversity of Hull
SpouseSiobhan Watson

Employment.png Member of the House of Lords Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
19 December 2022 - Present

Employment.png Deputy Leader of the Labour Party

In office
12 September 2015 - 12 December 2019
BossJeremy Corbyn

Employment.png Shadow Secretary of State for Digital,  Culture,  Media and Sport

In office
7 October 2016 - 12 December 2019

Employment.png Chairman of the Labour Party

In office
12 September 2015 - 14 June 2017

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 - 5 November 2019

Thomas Anthony Watson, Baron Watson of Wyre Forest is the former Labour Party Member of Parliament (MP) for West Bromwich East (2001-2019) who 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'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, Tom 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 6 November 2019, Tom Watson announced he was quitting as Labour's Deputy Leader and would not be standing at the UK/2019 General Election.[6] In his letter of thanks to Tom Watson, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote:

"I've always enjoyed our very convivial chats about many things, including cycling, exercise and horticulture. I hope the horseradish plants I gave you thrive."[7]

In June 2020, it was reported that Tom Watson had been rejected for a peerage after highlighting the claims of Carl Beech, who claimed a paedophile ring had operated in Westminster. The claims led the Metropolitan Police to conduct dawn raids on the homes of the Edwin Bramall, Leon Brittan and former MP Harvey Proctor. The Tory peer Lord Cormack officially registered his opposition to Watson's peerage nomination, saying “one who has abused his place in one House of Parliament should not be admitted to another”.[8]

In October 2022, it was reported that Watson would be appointed to the House of Lords as part of the resignation honours of Boris Johnson.[9] On 19 December 2022, Simon Attwood tweeted:

"The vermin in ermine, just got a little bit more verminous..."[10]

"Act of sabotage"

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."[11]


Steve Bell: Watson's problem with Jeremy Corbyn

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.[12]

On 6 August 2018, following a formal complaint of "antisemitism" by Labour MP Luciana Berger, the NEC suspended George McManus - a member of Labour's National Policy Forum - for posting on Facebook:

"Apparently Electoral Commission states that Tom Watson received £50,000+ from Jewish donors," including businessman Sir Trevor Chinn, adding: "At least Judas only got 30 pieces of silver".[13]

After deleting the post and apologising to Watson and the Jewish community, McManus was readmitted to the party on 27 September 2018.[14]

On 25 February 2019, Tom Watson said he would take personal charge of "antisemitism" and bullying complaints made by MPs to bring them to the attention of the Labour leadership, telling colleagues he will hold the party’s management of the complaints to account. He also called on Jeremy Corbyn to tackle “a crisis for the soul of the Labour Party” or risk many more defections to The Independent Group after nine Labour MPs quit the party, with at least three citing "antisemitism" and bullying as their main motivation.[15]

Iraq War

In 2003, Tom Watson voted for the Iraq War,[16] and subsequently voted consistently against an investigation into the war.[17]

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.[18] 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:[19]

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.[20]

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?"[21] 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."[22]


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
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Document:Brexit reveals Corbyn to be the true moderateblog post12 September 2019Jonathan CookIt is time to stop acting like zealots for neoliberalism, squabbling over which brand of turbo-charged capitalism we prefer, and face up to our collective responsibility to change our and our children’s future.
Document: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”.
Document:How top Labour officials plotted to bring down Jeremy CorbynArticle16 April 2020Jonathan CookThe stench of cover-up is already in the air. Keir Starmer's Labour needs to come clean and admit that its most senior officials defrauded hundreds of thousands of party members, and millions more supporters, who voted for a fairer, kinder Britain.
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Document:Labour councillor demands refund from party after leaked report exposed sabotage of CorbynArticle16 April 2020Lamiat SabinSarah-Jane McDonough's demand for a refund came after Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey claimed that attempts by the "Senior Management Team" to sabotage Labour’s chances in the UK/2017 General Election could have broken electoral law.
Document:Letter to Sir Keir from a newly resigned member of the Labour PartyLetter8 April 2020Bronagh WilsonThe Labour Party is now dead, it has ceased to be, it is bereft of life. You Sir Keir and your fellow travellers disgust me and it is time you PASOKed right off!.
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