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Tom Watson 'fighting for future of Labour Party' over Unite funding row

20 March 2017, 06:57 | Taylor George

Watson warns hard left Corbyn supporters could 'destroy' Labour with Unite deal

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However, many grassroots party members, see Corbyn as their natural leader - especially after the MPs forced a second election, which Corby won, increasing his share of the vote and giving him a mandate from all the party membership, further distancing himself from the parliamentary Labour Party, most of whom believe he is unelectable because he is taking the party to the left.

Ms Dugdale, speaking to Julia Hartley-Brewer, did allude to "machinations happening behind the scenes in Labour", after reports emerged that the Momentum campaign group is planning to merge with Unite to create a permanent hard-left power base within the Labour Party.

Unite's acting General Secretary, Gail Cartmail said: "Tom Watson has made claims about Unite and its General Secretary Len McCluskey which are entirely inaccurate".

The Labour leader and deputy leader added: "The Shadow Cabinet met today to discuss Labour's policy and election plans and had a robust and constructive discussion about the challenges and opportunities ahead".

The bitter recriminations between the union and Mr Watson come after the weekend leaking of a recording of Jon Lansman, Momentum's founder, addressing supporters at a meeting in Richmond, South London, on March 1.

"This is high stakes, and I hope my fellow members are going to understand that", said Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson on the BBC Today program.

"I'm going to talk to him about it, I don't know what he knows and doesn't know".

Lansman also said it was "absolutely crucial" that activists secured a change to Labour's rules to ensure that whenever Corbyn stands down, they are able to get a leftwing candidate on to the ballot paper to succeed him.

John McDonnell today told the "i" newspaper it could take two years for Labour to be ready to fight a general election.

"Jon Lansman outlined a hard left plan to control the Labour party after Jeremy's departure".

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Mr Watson, she suggested, was "rather right wing" and wanted to return to a "command and control" system for running the party based on a "Blairite model".

There are no plans whatsoever for Unite to affiliate to Momentum, as has, again, been made repeatedly clear.

"We have a mass membership now and it wants its voice to be heard", she said.

Tom Watson said there was a real threat to Labour's existence from the Corbyn supporters' group Momentum seeking to get union backing.

A spokesman said Mr Lansman had been speaking in "an aspirational manner" about the possibility of Unite and the CWU affiliating to Momentum. "There is a democratic deficit in the Labour Party where the structures we have do not reflect the support for Jeremy Corbyn that has been shown by the mass of the members".

"We can not have powerful people like Lansman saying secret plans to control the Labour party may be disrupted by a general election".

"For Unite to affiliate to Momentum it would require the approval of its executive committee".

'It is extraordinary that the deputy leader of the Labour Party should interfere in Unite's democracy in this way'. "I thought that Momentum were changing, that they were becoming an organisation that were sort of sharing ideas, and trying to create a debate".

"This is about democratising the Labour Party, which will strengthen the Labour Party".



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