Festival-Lover Watson Dodges Labour Live

Tom Watson famously loves a music festival – he’s been pictured at Glastonbury the last two years. So you’d have thought he’d have jumped at the chance to attend Labour Live, especially with tickets going cheap. Alas not, he told a guest at Ayesha Hazarika’s book launch for Punch and Judy Politics last night:

Guest: “I’ll see you at Labour Live!”

Watson: “No you won’t.”

Guest: “But I thought you loved music festivals?”

Watson: “That’s why I’m not going.”

Seems Labour’s deputy leader does not think much of Reverend and the Makers or the Magic Numbers. Should have booked Drenge…

Watson: I Put Butter in My Coffee to Lose 86 Pounds

Tom Watson discusses his love of putting butter in his coffee. Apparently it keeps the new svelte Tom fuller for longer throughout the day…

Leveson 2 Defeated, Watson Bottles Section 40 Vote

MPs have voted against Ed Miliband’s Leveson 2 amendment by a majority of nine. And…

Labour have just confirmed to Guido that the Watson amendment will not go to a vote. They didn’t have the numbers and have bottled it. Victory for the free press.

Ed Miliband, Tom Watson, Max Mosley, Impress, Hugh Grant, John Cleese, Brian Leveson, Gary Lineker, Steve Coogan, Evan Harris… your boys took one hell of a beating (well, just)…

Watson Amendment Would Fund Crime Bosses, Expenses Fraudsters and Drugs Cheats

Tom Watson’s Trump-style Section 40 amendment to the Data Protection Bill would force publishers to pay both sides’ legal costs even if they win a dispute – a reform that will potentially bankrupt media companies. It means all sorts of wrong ‘uns could bring legal challenges to newspapers, with the papers having to pay whatever the outcome. Watson would have seen the Sunday Times pay crime boss David Hunt’s legal bills. He would have put the Telegraph on the hook for MPs suing over the expenses scandal. The BBC and the Guardian would have had to pay the law firm Appleby over the Paradise Papers revelations. It means the Rotherham child abuse scandal, Fifa files and Lance Armstrong’s doping might never have been published. What do MPs voting for Watson’s amendment have to hide?

Guardian Condemns Watson and Miliband’s Anti-Free Press Amendments

Tonight the Commons votes on Tom Watson and Ed Miliband’s amendments declaring war on press freedom. The amendments are a Trump-style assault on the media, outrageously attempting to force publishers to pay both sides’ legal costs even if they win a dispute – a reform that will potentially bankrupt media companies. Watson and Miliband, backed by former fascist Max Mosley and Hacked Off’s press-hating millionaire celebrities and oligarchs, last night lost the support of the Guardian. In an excoriating statement condemning Watson and Miliband, Guardian News and Media warn the amendments “would further erode press freedom and have a severe chilling effect for the news environment in the UK”. They are particularly damning of Watson:

“The inclusion of Condition A has been widely interpreted as ensuring that news organisations structured along the lines of the Guardian and the Observer should be excluded from the scope of the broader clause. This clause was not discussed with Guardian News & Media and we disagree with attempts to impose a selective sanction on the media.”

These amendments are driven by Watson and Miliband’s personal loathing of the free press, rather than any concern for victims of intrusion. Miliband has semi-retired from his £77,000-a-year job as MP for Doncaster North – he seems to spend most of his time making podcasts and he couldn’t be bothered to turn up for the Syria debate last month. Even the Guardian is horrified by this blatant attempt by Watson and Miliband to undermine the free press in Britain. Any MP who votes for their amendments tonight is an enemy of press freedom…

Man Who Wrote Watson’s Legal Advice Gave Interview to Sputnik Praising “Brilliant” Work of Assange Lawyers

The man who wrote Tom Watson’s legal advice on Syria gave an interview earlier this year to the Kremlin mouthpiece Sputnik praising the “brilliant” work of Julian Assange’s lawyers. Watson commissioned Oxford University professor Dr Dapo Akande to provide him with advice on the legality of the British strikes in Syria over the weekend. The advice, published this morning, suggested the strikes were against international law. Akande has been offering his view that humanitarian intervention in Syria is illegal since 2013. Guido is more interested in his interview with Sputnik earlier this year, in which Akande outlined how Ecuador could take the UK to the International Court of Justice over Assange and how they could give him diplomatic status. Akande gave Sputnik this effusive praise for Assange’s legal team:

“This latest move is actually an excellent move. I think it was a brilliant idea by the team to try and find a way. I don’t know whether it will be successful but it is about the best way of trying to advance his case and cause.”

Sputnik certainly enjoy Dr Akande’s work…

Watson Wrongly Claims Corbyn Apologised for Anti-Semitic Mural Comments

Tom Watson was wrong to claim Jeremy Corbyn has apologised for his anti-Semitic mural comments. Confronted with the image on Marr this morning, an uncomfortable Watson claimed Jezza has apologised for defending the mural in a Facebook post:

“That is why Jeremy has expressed deep regret and apologised for that and actually said it was right the mural was taken down.”

Actually Corbyn refused to apologise for his comment, saying he only regreted not “looking more closely” at the mural – that statement caused outrage in the PLP this weekend precisely because it stopped short of an apology. Watson clearly wishes Corbyn would just say sorry…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

McDonnell: Watson Should Reconsider Taking Mosley Cash

John McDonnell said Tom Watson “should consider his relationship” with Max Mosley and raised questions over the propriety of the Labour Deputy Leader accepting £500,000 in donations from the disgraced F1 chief. McDonnell said:

“Tom will really need to consider seriously exactly that relationship with Max Mosley and the finances as well because if he is reiterating his views from the past he clearly hasn’t changed.”

McDonnell was reacting to a Guardian interview published yesterday in which Mosley repeated his support for paying migrants to “go home”. Both McDonnell and Corbyn’s offices are wary of Watson’s set-up, which, as Guido reported, has a staff of nine and is seen as a rival power centre. Corbynistas have enjoyed Watson’s pain over the past week…

Watson Only Senior Labour Figure to Publicly Stand By Mosley

Tom Watson backed Max Mosley in the Commons earlier, making him the only Labour figure to continue to support the disgraced former fascist:

“If I thought for one moment he held those views contained in that leaflet 57 years ago, I would not have given him the time of day. He is a man though, who in the face of great family tragedy and overwhelming media intimidation, chose to use his limited resources to support the weak against the strong.”

As Guido noted yesterday, Watson is ignoring Mosley’s continuing dodgy views, including his insistence to Cathy Newman this week that he still believes infamous racist and fascist Walter Hesketh is a “very decent person”. Imagine what Watson would be saying if this was a Tory, or indeed anyone who hadn’t given him half a million quid.

Mosley Funds Watson’s Huge Private Office Power Base

Why won’t Tom Watson hand back the half a million quid given to him by Max Mosley, despite Labour appearing to accept he isn’t a fit and proper donor? Well, Watson uses the money to fund his private office, which at nine full time staff members is the third largest in parliament. According to the Register of Secretaries and Research Assistants, Corbyn and McDonnell are the only MPs with more staff. Watson’s office has become a significant power base and giving the money back would weaken him considerably. That’s why Seumas Milne twisted the knife into Watson with his statement ditching Mosley earlier…

If this was a £5,000 donation rather than £500,000, there seems little question that he would give the money back. Watson faced with the choice: do the right thing and hand back the cash, or keep his bumper private office bankrolled by a former fascist…

Labour Won’t Take Further Mosley Donations But Watson Will Keep His £500,000

Labour say they will no longer accept donations from Max Mosley, but will keep the £500,000 he gave to Tom Watson. ‬Eh? How does that work? Either he’s not a fit and proper donor or he is – how can Watson keep his cash?

Watson Backs Mosley

Tom Watson has backed Max Mosley and hinted he will continue to accept money from the former fascist, telling the Mail: “The views expressed by Max as a young man are not the views he holds now, just as the Rothermere family no longer uses its newspapers to support fascism”. You know you’re in trouble when you’re reaching for the tired Rothermere line like some tedious Twitter troll…

Let’s have a look at Watson’s claim that Mosley no longer holds dodgy views. Asked by Cathy Newman whether he still believes “coloured immigrants” should be repatriated, Mosley said that is “now completely academic” and “no longer a possible question”.

Asked if it was racist to say immigrants bring diseases to Britain, Mosley replied to Cathy: “I don’t know about racist”.

Asked if he thought he should say sorry, Mosley snapped: “I’ve no reason to apologise to anyone”.

Mosley then went on to defend the fascist Walter Hesketh, telling Cathy he was “a very decent person as far as I was concerned, I thought he was then and I think he is now”. Hesketh is on record saying: “If enough people vote for me… the government will be sending coloured immigrants home” and “To stop coloured immigration, vote Hesketh”. Mosley says he still thinks Hesketh is a “very decent person” now…

This all makes a mockery of Watson’s claim that Mosley’s views have changed and it is now somehow acceptable to take his cash. If a Tory had £500,000 off a former fascist who clearly still holds problematic views then Watson and Labour would be screaming the house down. Labour’s deputy leader is happy to take half a million quid from a former fascist who still thinks out-and-out racist Walter Hesketh was a “very decent person”…

Watson Now Opposes Airing Lurid Historic Claims Against MPs

Tom Watson is very upset with the idea that anyone would air lurid, unsubstantiated, historic allegations against MPs. He writes this morning:

 “Unfortunately for these newspapers, the years of slurs, of stretching the truth to breaking point, of completely one-sided reporting may be creeping up on them. They do not wield the power they once did, their circulations are falling and people simply don’t trust them anymore.”

Guido is old enough to remember when Watson called Leon Brittan “evil” in front of a House of Commons Select Committee and had to apologise to Brittan’s widow when the paedophile claims turned out to be fantasy. He has some brass neck.

Why No Media Plurality Worries Over Mirror-Express Merger?

The usual suspects who raise a hue and cry about media plurality seem strangely silent about the Mirror – Express merger. Print sector media plurality is being dramatically reduced from four major media groups to 3 plus the also rans. The new group will have about a quarter market share of the UK dead tree press. As the print market withers it is turning oligopolistic…

Tom Watson is silent, the usual gobby ‘media plurality’ campaigners are also mute. The Guardian isn’t going on about the hackers at the Mirror not being fit and proper to take over the Express. There are genuine public interest concerns; plurality is being reduced and the distinctive political voice of the Express is being put at risk. Are plurality concerns only applicable to Rupert Murdoch?

Tom Watson “Ignoring” Labour Corruption on His Doorstep

There’s more than a little local trouble in Tom Watson’s backyard as allegations of serious malfeasance at Labour controlled Sandwell Council continue to mount up. Sandwell, which partially lies in Watson’s West Bromwich East constituency, is rapidly gaining notoriety as one of England’s most rotten boroughs, with multiple allegations of misconduct in public office. It has been reported in the local papers that:

  • A Labour councillor, Mahboob Hussain, sold off council-owned public toilets valued at £130,000 to a family friend for £35,000. It is also alleged he cancelled parking tickets for family members and was involved in bullying. Councillor Hussain denies these allegations.
  • Another Labour councillor, Mohammad Rouf, received a council house even though he had just sold a house for £125,000. Sandwell Council spent £200,000 on the demolition of eight terraced houses and the clearing of the site, only for that to be purchased by Councillor Rouf’s son for £65,000. He was then granted planning permission for a seven-bedroom house, where Councillor Rouf now reportedly lives.
  • Former Councillor Derek Rowley allegedly sold council-owned property for his own benefit and charged the council for marquee hire from his personal business.
  • Another investigation found potential collusion and fraudulent practice in public office over the sale of land to two Labour councillors.
  • That Labour councillors attempted to suppress a damning report into misconduct, the Wragge Report, which cost taxpayers £185,000. Despite the report finally being published in May 2016, the council’s standards committee only acknowledged it this month. 

Meanwhile, the council’s critical services are failing, not least the Children’s Services department which has had a string of dire Ofsted inspections. The situation is so bad that Tory MP James Morris brought an adjournment debate on the topic last week. Morris said of Watson:

“One of my fellow Sandwell MPs, the hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Tom Watson)—who is not in the Chamber—is, of course, the deputy leader of the Labour party. Right on his very doorstep, there are allegations of fraud, misconduct in public office, sexism and bullying, and he has hardly breathed a word. Of all the people who would be able to step in, call a halt to the reign of some of these councillors and ensure that allegations are investigated properly, he would be the one. I think that the hon. Member for West Bromwich East has some questions to answer about why he has remained so quiet.”

Watson is usually very vocal about outrageous misconduct from public officials. Why so quiet this time?

Watson Says Second Referendum Possible An Hour After Diane Rules It Out

Jeremy Corbyn, three weeks ago: Doesn’t rule out second referendum

Diane Abbott, two weeks ago: Backs second referendum

Diane Abbott, today: Rules out second referendum

Tom Watson, today: Doesn’t rule out second referendum

Got that?

Murdoch’s De-Risked With Disney

Tom Watson can barely contain himself: “This is the end of an era for the Murdochs who after decades of aggressive empire expansion are now in retreat.” The left is celebrating because their blood enemy of half-a-century is “in retreat”. If it is a retreat then it is a luxurious one. Disney is paying $52 billion for the Fox assets Murdoch is selling, which includes Sky in the UK. It pleases Rupert’s legion of enemies that he has lost the battle for total control of Sky…

As some of the more sober analysis on the business pages has noted, Fox stock is up 30% since the bid speculation started; Murdoch is selling at the top. Disney is gearing up for a streaming war with Netflix, Amazon and Apple. Content libraries are the key weapon in that war. Fox is getting a full premium for that treasure without the risk of becoming a casualty. Rupert could again – as he was at the dawn of satellite television – be ahead of the game. The billions in profits generated by Sky may dazzle investors now; those with more vision can see that the future of universal fast broadband and the shift to mobile means this tsunami of subscription revenue could recede very quickly. The Pay TV assets Murdoch has sold to Disney could never have it better…

Murdoch still has control of Fox News, the most lucrative news channel on earth. He still has News Corp’s newspapers around the world and a big chunk of Mickey Mouse’s stock. Fox also now has billions in cash and cash flow with which to make Murdoch’s next move…

UPDATE: Murdoch tells Maria Bartiromo that he wants to be out of entertainment and in real-time news:

Watson’s Capitulation

It’s hard to over-estimate the level of opprobrium Tom Watson generated by singing “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” on the conference stage yesterday. Last night Labour moderates shared this viral BBC clip in disbelief that a man who railed against Momentum entryism and helped orchestrate the failed coup against Jez could, like a captured prisoner in a hostage video, sing the anthem of those he once opposed. Even Corbyn looked embarrassed. The main takeaway from this year’s conference is the pathetic capitulation of Labour centrists who just a few months ago were telling us Corbyn isn’t fit to be PM…

Barry Gardiner: Watson Not Up to Explaining Single Market Late at Night

Intriguing choice of words by Barry Gardiner on Westminster Hour, suggesting that Tom Watson got Labour’s position on the single market wrong because it was a “late night interview”. What’s he implying about the famously fun-loving Labour deputy leader?[…] Read the rest

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