General

  By a Newsnet reporter

Labour MP Tom Watson has resigned from the party’s front bench at Westminster over the continuing row surrounding the candidate selection process in Falkirk.
 
In a resignation letter to Labour leader Ed Miliband, Mr Watson called for the findings of an internal investigation into the controversy to be published.

In the letter, Mr Watson wrote: “I said that I’d stay with you as general election co-ordinator within the Shadow Cabinet as long as I was useful.  I think it would be a good idea for you, and me, if I stood down from the role now.”

The MP added: “Yet it’s not the unattributed shadow cabinet briefings around the mess in Falkirk that has convinced me that the arrangement has run its course (though they don’t help).

“I believe that the report should be published – in full – and the whole truth told as soon as possible so that the record can be made clear. I’ve still not seen the report but believe there are an awful lot of spurious suppositions being written.”

The resignation of the senior MP was followed by news that Labour has suspended Stephen Deans who is the party chairman of the Falkirk West Constituency.  Also suspended from Labour is Karie Murphie, the candidate who had the backing of Unite.

The constituency has been beset with controversy and scandal involving the current MP, Eric Joyce, who was suspended from Labour following a string of scandals culminating in a conviction for assault.  The current selection process follows Mr Joyce’s suspension, but it too has been hit by its own scandals after allegation of rigging emerged.

The resignation of the senior MP from Labour’s shadow cabinet is the latest blow to rock the party which is currently engaged in a bitter war of words with one of its biggest financial backers.  Trade union Unite has faced claims from Labour that it tried to rig the selection process in Falkirk in a bid at enhancing the chances of its own favoured candidate Karie Murphy.

Ms Murphy was also Mr Watson’s office manager and some in Labour had criticised the MP over what they felt was his own inappropriate favouritism.

In a twist yesterday it was reported that senior Scottish Labour MP Jim Murphy is also linked to one of the Falkirk candidates who is also suspected of illegally recruiting party members in the Falkirk area.  Gregory Poynton, whose wife is a member of Mr Murphy’s Shadow Defence team, is alleged to have paid the membership fees of several new recruits using a £130 personal cheque.

Yesterday Mr Murphy launched his own bitter attack on the trade union, accusing it of having “overstepped the mark” in Falkirk.

Unite’s leader Len McCluskey has previously accused Murphy and another Scottish Labour MP, Douglas Alexander, of attempting to “seduce” Labour’s leader Ed Miliband who McCluskey said would be “cast into the dustbin of history” if he listened to the two.

The issue has brought embarrassment to Labour leader Ed Miliband who owes his own leadership contest win over his brother David, to Unite.  Mr Miliband has been under increasing pressure to distance himself from the union following the controversy in Falkirk.

There has also been increasing pressure for Labour’s Scottish leader Johann Lamont to issue a statement on the growing controversy.  Ms Lamont is the nominal leader of all Scottish politicians, including MPs.  However she has been silent on the matter, fuelling claims that her ‘leadership’ role is merely cosmetic and London is calling the shots.

Labour’s opponents have seized on the bitter feud.

Michael Matheson, SNP MSP for Falkirk West, insisted the constituents of Falkirk deserved a by-election, saying:

“The scandal surrounding Labour in Falkirk is just a microcosm of what is wrong with the Labour party at large, as highlighted by the high level resignation of Tom Watson.

“The people of Falkirk deserve so much better. They should be able to elect a new MP – there needs to be a by-election – and the sooner the better.

“All we have had is silence from Johann Lamont, who is supposed to be leader of Labour’s Scottish Westminster MPs.  Ms Lamont clearly can’t get a grip of this crisis; she is confirming that the shots are all being called by the real Labour bosses in London.

“Local people were let down by Labour over the behaviour of Eric Joyce, and they have been let down by Labour all over again with their party’s murky candidate selection scandal.”

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said: “This is a clear vote of no confidence in Ed Miliband’s weak leadership from the man he brought in to run his campaign.

“But this still doesn’t change the fact that Len McCluskey’s Unite union is taking over the Labour Party.

“Ed Miliband is not in control of his Party. He’s too weak to stand up to Len McCluskey, too weak to stand up for hardworking people and too weak to run the country.”

Comments  

 
#
call me dave
2013-07-04 18:03

New stuff:

Gregory Poynton, (above)whose wife is a member of Mr Murphy’s Shadow Defence team, is alleged to have paid the membership fees of several new recruits using a £130 personal cheque.
—————————————–

He’s out too

It’s going to be an all women candidate list.

Commentators on BBC Radio say that Lamont is happy, very happy, with the outcome and the report and she was responsible for contributing to the decision.
………………………….
 
 
#
garyjc
2013-07-04 18:04

“Ms Lamont is the nominal leader of all Scottish politicians, including MP’s”. What a horribly scary thought. I know you mean ‘Labour politicians’, but just the thought of JL in charge of anything is a frightening prospect, let alone ‘all Scottish politicians”
 
 
#
brusque
2013-07-04 18:37

It is all well and good for Johann to be “happy, very happy”? does she mean that the decision has been made for her and she didn’t even have to lift her backside off a chair.

The whole affair stinks, and as far as I’m concerned Tom Watson has done the only thing he could do – jumped before he was pushed.

Murphy and Alexander had better grow eyes in the back of their heads, they are marked men.
 
 
#
maisiedotts
2013-07-04 18:58

Hmm I didn’t agree with his politics but I always had a lot of time for Tom Watson over the phone tapping scandal.

Good man Tom, I believe in open democracy too – you’re right – the report should have been published in full.
 
 
#
Etrigan
2013-07-04 19:04

The more I read things like this, the less I care about anything Labour has to say or does. I don’t know what they stand for, I don’t know what there vision is. This type of story is the only time they seemed to get talked about. A wee fall out in a wee gang. They bore me so much.
 
 
#
Teri
2013-07-04 19:21

According to Guido Fawkes blog ‘Karie Murphy, Tom Watson’s office manager who also happens to have been Len McCluskey’s girlfriend, has been suspended along with Labour member Stephen Deans over Falkirk. Labour has also banned unions from paying new members’ subs.’

This problem is not going away any time soon for Labour. How long can Johann Lamont keep her head below the parapet?
 
 
#
gopher3
2013-07-04 21:16

This problem is not going away any time soon for Labour. How long can Johann Lamont keep her head below the parapet?

Not until she gets her orders from London, after all they’re running Labour in Scotland.

Vote YES 2014
 
 
#
macgilleleabhar
2013-07-04 21:35

Someone on CIF commented that with Labour imploding the odds on Cameron being PM right through till 2020 are shortening!
To my mind that would make a “Yes” vote odds on favourite
 
 
#
velofello
2013-07-04 21:53

Naw Teri, say you made it up!
Karie Murphy, who was Ken McClusky’s girlfriend is Tom Watson’s office manager.
Murphy and Alexander embroiled in intrigue,Lamont struck dumb.
Thinks, has Karie more than one suitor?
A sitcom doubleheader!
 
 
#
Mad Jock McMad
2013-07-04 22:49

The Daily Mash has it about right.

thedailymash.co.uk/…/…

I am having difficulty deciding whether the current Nu Blu Labour tragedy is a re-run of MacBeth or Titus Andronicus.
 
 
#
Jimbo
2013-07-05 09:38

Does Lamont owe her position in the Labour Party to any of the unions?
 

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