Jeremy Corbyn’s kinder, more caring politics in action #1 Tom Watson

Well that didn’t take long.

Barely 12 hours after I wrote last night that Jeremy Corbyn had given us something to throw back at any Labour nastiness, Corbyn’s own deputy Tom Watson took a right pop at us in his speech to Labour Conference.

From PoliticsHome:

I did go too far though when I compared the Lib Dems to a Banarama tribute band. Some people were angry, and I accept that I crossed the line. What I said was demeaning, unjustified and wrong. Siobhan, Sara, Keren – I should never have compared your tribute acts to that useless bunch of lying sellouts, the Lib Dems and I’m sorry.

Unless I have found myself in some alternate universe where the words “kinder and caring” actually mean “gratuitously insulting free-for-all,” I think Mr Corbyn has his work cut out for him. Just a quick reminder of what he said yesterday:

I want a kinder politics, a more caring society. Don’t let them reduce you to believing in anything less. So I say to all activists, whether Labour or not, cut out the personal attacks. The cyberbullying. And especially the misogynistic abuse online. And let’s get on with bringing values back into politics.

Obviously, the new Labour leader will be fed up with his Deputy, then?

Aye, right:

Please send us any more examples of Labour being kind and caring that you may come across.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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44 Comments

  • Max Wilkinson 30th Sep '15 - 4:29pm

    We must not question Labour because Labour is on the side of good (not the Tories) and therefore Labour does good things.

  • Shant Grapps 30th Sep '15 - 4:39pm

    But the party did sell out and I for one felt misled by Clegg and Co, and let down by the failure to curb the Tories.

  • I think that Corbyn’s kinder politics is only for those that agree with him…… I actually chuckled at the Bananarama gag the first time round (I can spell it unlike PoliticsHome probably as I had some of their records!!).

    I actually think that the fact the Labour shadow cabinet seem at odds with each other on just about every policy and position they hold is much worse for the country then this type of issue. We had five years of poor official opposition and it looks set to continue.

  • Another Mark 30th Sep '15 - 4:49pm

    Watson blocked me on Twitter after I said to him that New Labour hadn’t built any council houses.

  • Nigel Quinton 30th Sep '15 - 4:53pm

    And you were expecting what Caron? 🙂

    Currently, neither Labour or Tory party have any need for us and we can expect to be reviled and disparaged at every turn. No point complaining. Tim got the tone right last week when he said very clearly that he was proud of our record in government. That is the line we must take, and be resilient. Hopefully we will eventually be seen in more generous terms.

  • Ok I am not a fan of Tom Watson who is a very divisive bruiser, in my opinion. However I’d like to make three points:

    Firstly the Bananarama quote was in reaction to Tim Farron who claimed without any justification that large numbers of Labour MPs were about to defect to the Lib dems because of Jeremy Corbyn. Now that does not excuse Tom Waste calling you lot ” a useless bunch of lying sell outs”. I think it demeans Tom Watson that he resorted to that sort of language but let’s face it, it’s what most people think and many actually call you worse than that on social media. Many people consider it merely a statement of fact. Still, it is not the sort of language I would use.

    Secondly Jeremy Corbyn does not use such language to his credit and over time I hope his example will set the tone for his colleagues. He has already publicly told them what he expects. But expecting Corbyn to curb a bruiser like Watson, after two weeks as leader, is a big ask. Remember Corbyn did not choose Watson as Deputy.

    Finally, Jeremy is hardly going to rebuke Watson for his language in public. Jeremy’s tweet is praising Tom Watson for attacking the Tories . You know, the people who are in government and hurting the poor and the vulnerable. That is his focus. Maybe the Lib Dems should follow his example?

  • Phyllis
    Gandhi is remembered as a man of peace.What is forgotten is many of Gandhi supporters in India were far from peaceful.

  • Liberal Neil 30th Sep '15 - 5:39pm

    The other half of Tom’s Bananarama jibe compared the Labour Party to The Beatles.

    As I said to him at the time, this is a fitting comparison.

    The Beatles last come up with anything useful 45 years ago and the talented ones are long dead.

  • Manfarang

    Well yes you make my point. We don’t think that Mahatma Gandhi was any less a pacifist because of what his so-called supporters got up to. And Tom Watson is not even a Corbyn supporter. So we cannot really criticise Corbyn for Watson’s comments. I have heard people time and again say that Corbyn is a genuinely courteous and decent man.

    However, I don’t expect Corbyn to go on a long fast til Watson sees sense 😉

  • David Evans 30th Sep '15 - 5:54pm

    Nigel, if all we can say to the public is ‘hopefully you will eventually see us in more generous terms’ we will be a long, long time in the wilderness, beause they will know we still don’t want to accept their verdict.

  • Watson is Corbyn’s attack dog and socialist bully.

    Still the party will have the last laugh. The Lib Dems will be the official opposition in 2020. People are not going to stomach socialism or nationalism or any combination of it, and disaffection with the SNP, UKIP and Corbyn will send people who can’t quite back Osborne back to the Lib Dems. Hopefully Clegg can be rehabilitated in the publics’ eye to give a barnstorming defence of the EU, and to quash the nonsense spouted about TTIP and TISA.

  • Watson was not going to praise the Lib Dems so why suprise in what he said.Ignore him, allow the Labour Party to destroy itself and let Lib Dems continue the fightback

  • Ruth Bright 30th Sep '15 - 8:00pm

    Phyllis is innocent!

  • Wow, Stimpson – that is all a very big ask!
    Your view seems predicated on the belief that the “new politics” is just a temporary phenomenon, not a move back towards pre-Thatcher – Reagan politics / economics. I think you can see the latter move being made in the politics of a number of countries. It was very evident at the TV debate in April between the opposition leaders. The salvation of our party will not lie in trying to defend “our role in Government”, but by realising that the centre of gravity in politics is starting to move back. As Corbyn eloquently told us all, we don’t have to put up with it. My prediction, Stimpson, FWIW, is that by 2020 all parties, including the Tories, will objectively have moved leftwards – they may still win, of course. The other driving factor will be the environmental imperative. The longer we go without decisive and liberally led action, the tougher the authoritarianism when people finally decide the time is ripe for action

  • To be honest, I’m just waiting for their Trident vote. Either Corbyn or Watson will lose , will have to accept the decision and, by Waton’s own argument, be useless sell outs.

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Oct '15 - 12:37am

    I agree with Ruth Bright. I enjoy Phyllis’s comments. No need for the rudeness from Greenfield.

  • Phyllis
    “I have heard people time and again say that Corbyn is a genuinely courteous and decent man. ”
    Of course he has come into contact with genuine and decent Quakers.

  • @ Ruth and Eddie -I agree. Let everyone have their say even if we don’t agree. Keep posting Phyllis!

  • I think the sky’s the limit for any political party these days. Labour have left a great big stonking centre left space for us to fill. We need to remember that any party can give an analysis of problems without providing costed solutions. It’s much tougher and more rewarding down the line to actually provide sensible solutions. Housing is one example where we will need a well rounded strategy that can pay off in the end. It’s probably the one issue where bold policies will be politically popular. Other than that the only thing Labour respects is election wins against them. The only way to do that is to be ruthless with Labour and grind them down. Anything else is luxurious sentiment. Treat Labour politicians as they treat us. With smart strategic contempt. Treat the ordinary members differently.

  • Stephen Howse 1st Oct '15 - 9:08am

    “I enjoy Phyllis’s comments.”

    As do I – she’s one of the commenters on here that I specifically look for below the line, she’s always got something useful and interesting to add to the discussion. Keep posting, Phyllis!

  • Richard Underhill 1st Oct '15 - 9:55am

    Caron Lindsay | Wed 30th September 2015 – 4:03 pm Tom Watson has said that he “has his own mandate” (being directly elelcted, albeit on a smaller turnout and with a smaller percentage majority than his leader’s simultaneous elelction).

    Nigel Quinton 30th Sep ’15 – 4:53 ” .. Currently, neither Labour or Tory party have any need for us and we can expect to be reviled and disparaged at every turn. No point complaining” and the SNP?

  • Ruth, Eddie, Judy and Stephen

    Thank you so much! I’m very moved.

    I very much enjoy all your comments too 🙂

  • Everyone goes on about what Tom Watson says. I’m more interested in what we are saying. Don’t respond to Labour – just smartly campaign against them.

  • Ruth Bright 1st Oct '15 - 10:32am

    Jayne – two hours ago I was doing exactly what you say in your last sentence. I am so ashamed! But at least my political biographies include Mo Mowlam, Barbara Castle, Oonagh King, Laura Grimond, Shirley Williams and others and they all deserve to be kept nice and dust free!! x

  • Stimpson. If Clegg is allowed anywhere near the referendum all will be lost. The man is toxic when it comes to the voters. Accept this and move on.

  • Tribal politics lives on in Labour despite Corbyn’s wishful thinking. Jez, you can’t break the habits of a lifetime.

  • *also a member of the Phyllis fanclub*

    I don’t always agree with you by any means, P, but your posts often make me examine my view.

  • Matthew Huntbach 1st Oct '15 - 12:50pm

    Shant Grapps

    But the party did sell out and I for one felt misled by Clegg and Co, and let down by the failure to curb the Tories.

    That is arguable. If you look at Conservative discussion sites during the coalition period, you find them full of moans about the Liberal Democrats stopping them from doing what they wanted, of the coalition being “a Liberal Democrat government, not a Conservative one” and so on. One of the things which few seem to have grasped is the extent to which the Conservatives have moved so far right that hard-fought compromises still ended up more right-wing than the Conservatives alone were when they were previously in government.

    In my opinion, many of the arguments that the Liberal Democrats could have got much more are based on completely unrealistic assumptions, such as the idea that Labour would come roaring back to power if another general election had been called in 2011, or the Liberal Democrats would recover from the flop which their 2010 result was, given the high expectations after the supposed Cleggmania boom.

    The reality is that any big alternative to what we had would require Labour support – and that was not going to happen. Labour’s strategy was to let the Coalition happen, sit back and watch the Liberal Democrats get destroyed by it, and then win as a result. Er, well, the last bit didn’t quite come off.

    To be fair to Clegg, in a negotiation situation where you are weak, a more conciliatory approach can win more compromises than a tough stand-off one. I don’t like what came out of the Coalition at all, but it seemed to me to be roughly representative of the balance of the parties in terms of seats. Those who don’t like it would do better to argue for proportional representation to give a fairer balance than abuse the Liberal Democrats because their 57 MPs could not get 307 Conservative MPs to jump to their tune.

  • Jeremy Corbyn in interviews this week attacked unelected and unaccountable power, and said that the House of Lords must go. No disagreement there. Perhaps though Tom Watson should be reminded that had it not been for an alliance of Conservative backbenchers and the Labour opposition that effectively defeated Nick Clegg’s Bill, the House of Lords would have been abolished or reformed in the last Parliament. This would have been a significant step forward for progressive politics – again, blown out of the water by Right Wing Tories and the Labour Party. The ‘kindest’ suggestion therefore I can make to Tom Watson is that he takes a look at the record of his own Party with regards to principles and consistency, and adopts some more humility in the future.

  • Thanks Jennie, that’s really decent of you to say that – and ditto! 🙂

    Jayne, thank you. I very much enjoy your thoughtful posts and I agree with you about the lack of women on here. Sometimes (usually when I’ve been run down by being called a “nah nah nah nah nah” for the umpteenth time 😉 ) , I have resisted the temptation to flounce off for that very reason – I refuse to reduce the number of female voices on here.

    I’ve been so moved by all your expressions of support. LDV really is a great place to hang out. I feel like I know many of you personally after all these years of regular interaction.

  • I like Watson. Clearly he is tribalist but all leaders are. Also, in taking on NI he actually achieved something on his own which is more than 90% of MPs can claim. Thats probably the pinnacle of his achievements tho, deputy leader doesnt mean much and Labour arent exactly holding the Tories to account.

  • Geoffrey Payne 2nd Oct '15 - 12:42pm

    We need to understand the context. Tom Watson has to make himself popular given he is otherwise out of step with the more popular Jeremy Corbyn on many issues. So he exploited the tribal hatred that Labour have towards us.
    No doubt these represent his personal views as well, although it is not as though Labour can claim the moral high ground given their lies that they used to justify the war in Iraq.
    However this is fighting old battles. Labour need to learn that their tribal hatred towards the Lib Dems during the Coalition was counter productive. The collapse in the number of Lib Dem MPs at the last general election benefitted the Tories more than Labour. An increase in the Lib Dem vote back again will hurt the Tories more than Labour. Some Labour tribalists will say it doesn’t make any difference, but now the Tories can do what they like on the Trade Union bill and on party funding they will have to accept that we did make a difference.
    Tom Watson’s comments are very short sighted and are based more on emotion than reason. Jeremy Corbyn has not used the same language. I think he would prefer to ignore the Lib Dems and dismiss them as irrelevant. But he will also keep an eye on us just in case. If the Lib Dems do start to revive it would be interesting to see how he responds.

  • nvelope2003 2nd Oct '15 - 9:24pm

    Des anyone think that Watson or the rest of them really care about the trade union bill ? It is all hot air huffing and puffing to make it look as though they are doing something other than advancing their own careers. The Times got Mr Watson spot on.

  • nvelope2003 2nd Oct '15 - 9:27pm

    Still it seems to be working. Labour won 2 local council by elections in Banbury yesterday though they did not do very well in Scotland. The SNP is still marching onward and upward and the Liberal Democrats, where they fought are still in the mire.

  • Nvelope2003

    The Times is hardly impartial. I haven’t read the article or whatever it was because I don’t buy it but the News International rags are always going to be against Watson.

    I’m no fan of his by the way, I think he is a very divisive figure with a huge ego.

  • Phyllis,

    I also look forward to your posts (especially the one where you caught yourself quoting our Preamble!)

    nvelope: recent by-elections have all been in places where we were in 4th place at best last time they were fought. You are quite right that there is little sign that voters are returning to us where we lack credibility. There is a more interesting set of elections next week

  • Matt (Bristol) 2nd Oct '15 - 11:59pm

    I have mixed feelings about Tom Watson, and feel he is a politician who deserves to be watched carefully, in both a good way and a bad way. I think however, that as we have a leader who gets carried away with political language himself and knows how to craft a semi-jokey rhetorical putdown, we shouldn’t get too hung up. Watson was rude about us. Many of us in the party would like Labour to like us, some of they do but won’t admit it, some of them used to but felt betrayed, some of them never like us. That’s about it, really.

    Try to think about how those Tories many of us (grudgingly) respect feel about some of the angry language we all indulge in … we’re just going to have to live with this stuff and at the same time try to not spread too much of it about ourselves.

    FWIW I like Phyllis, she has politely and logically (generally) pulled me up short of my many inconsistencies too many times to be not treated with respect.

  • nvelope2003 3rd Oct '15 - 12:58pm

    Phyllis: That is what the Times said about him. I do not read it much but I happened to see that. All papers are biased in one way or another and most people know what they stand for – at least the dwindling number who still read them.

    AndrewMcC : There were hardly any LD candidates in Scotlan – have they given up all together ?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 3rd Oct '15 - 10:13pm

    I have just seen the very rude comment made by the poster Greenfield and removed it. I am very pleased to see that so many people came to Phyllis’s defence and thank them for doing so.

    If anyone ever sees a rude personal attack like that, please feel free to get in touch with the team at [email protected]. We don’t see every comment that gets posted, but if notified of such rudeness will deal with it.

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