Len McCluskey warns Tom Watson: Labour members could vote you out given the chance

The Unite leader said he had been confused by Mr Watson's praise for Tony Blair and Gordon Brown

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Wednesday 28 September 2016 11:14 BST
Jeremy Corbyn with Unite boss Len McCluskey, who criticised what he called the ‘right wing’ of the Labour Party
Jeremy Corbyn with Unite boss Len McCluskey, who criticised what he called the ‘right wing’ of the Labour Party (Getty)

Union chief Len McCluskey has taken a swipe at Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, suggesting he would not win his position today if he put it to another vote of members.

Mr McCluskey launched his attack after Mr Watson praised Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in a conference speech, something the Unite boss said left him “confused”. The Unite general-secretary accused Mr Watson and the “right wing” of the Labour party of lacking a vision for the future.

In an awkward moment during Mr Watson’s speech, conference delegates gave a standing ovation to Mr Watson’s praise for the Blair/Brown era, but leader Jeremy Corbyn refused to get to his feet or clap.

Speaking today Mr McCluskey claimed that Mr Watson, who like Mr Corbyn was elected to his post, is now detached from party members’ thinking. He said: “If Tom wants to try and refresh his mandate, it would be interesting to see what happens.”

During his speech Mr Watson said he did not know why the party had “been focusing on what was wrong with the Blair and Brown Governments” and went on to hail their achievements and said people should be proud of them.

But Mr McCluskey said: “I thought Tom’s speech was extraordinary. It confused me. It seemed to be saying that New Labour and the third way was the way forward again.

“Now it doesn’t surprise me, because Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are putting forward an alternative. The right wing of the party have got no vision and so they are going back to yesteryear.”

He went on: “During the Blair years, of course they did lots of good things, but we still lost one million manufacturing jobs. The gap between rich and poor continued, the seeds of inequality we're suffering today were watered.”

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