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COMMENT: Gloves are off in Labour civil war

By Pete Madeley | Opinions | Published:

The Labour Party has entered full meltdown over the past week – and things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

Labour is looking less electable by the day under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership

The fallout from the damning Panorama documentary on anti-Semitism in the party has seen Jeremy Corbyn's hard-left faction go on the offensive in a bid to stave off criticism from the centre-left, led by his deputy Tom Watson.

And while Mr Corbyn has stayed away from the frontline, his henchmen have been on the attack.

Interventions from the likes of Diane Abbott, John McDonnell and party chairman Ian Lavery have sent a very clear message to Mr Watson: either pipe down, or get out.

The most dramatic verbal strike came from Len McCluskey, the general secretary of the country's biggest union, Unite, who delivered his assessment of the issue to a baying crowd at the Durham Miners' Gala.

Lumping Mr Watson in with "right wing critics" of Mr Corbyn, he said: "Tom and his pals in the media... you should f****** well be ashamed of yourselves".

Mr Watson will not be overly concerned with those who oppose him – particularly Mr McCluskey, who he has been at loggerheads with for for years.

In particular, Mr McCluskey has not forgiven the MP for his role in the 2017 Unite leadership election, when Mr Watson backed West Midlander Gerard Coyne.

Mr McCluskey's opinion at the time that Mr Watson lives in a “world of skulduggery, smears and secret plots”, is unlikely to have changed.

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For his part, Mr Watson has been ploughing his own furrow for a while now.

He is seemingly intent on challenging the Labour leadership on the two issues that are draining the life out of the party, Brexit and how to deal with anti-Semitism.

The halcyon days that followed the 2017 snap election seem a long way off.

Back then Mr Watson united behind his party's leader, publicly buying into the Corbyn love-in that had seen Labour not lose by as much as the polls had predicted.

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But the new relationship was not to last, and the pair's very different views on those two key issues have widened divisions.

There are those at Labour's top table who are desperate to oust Mr Watson, believing him to be the enemy within.

Equally, the frustration held by many of the party's MPs over Mr Corbyn's leadership is coming to a head.

While the squabbles continue, Labour looks less and less electable by the day.

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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