One factor that made the prospect of an early General Election a little mouth-watering to a weary electorate (if one momentarily removes the B-word from the mix) was the enticing opportunity to eject Parliament’s abundance of dead wood. At least the anticipated tsunami of ‘Portillo moments’ through the night would have made making a fourth trek to the local polling station in as many years a worthy journey. Yet, maybe expecting such a motley crew of freeloaders and chancers to honour their contract with the people was a tall order; we make the effort by voting, but they don’t complement it by standing. Yes, it would’ve been out of character for the majority of those names whose scalps were most sought for them to show a bit of backbone and face their constituents. Rather than strolling to the gallows with dignity intact and heads held high, a number of high profile parliamentarians have bottled it and headed for the hills like the gutless charlatans we all knew they were.
Exempting the veterans who’ve put the hours in for decades and are understandably looking forward to the state-subsidised retirement home that is the Lords, many of the MPs jumping before being pushed are surprisingly young, declining to stick it out and follow in the footsteps of their far senior colleagues before calling it day. But they’re not stupid. They know what we know. An MP going back on promises made during a campaign is hardly a new development, but an unlimited number of the current crop have taken that time-honoured practice to an unprecedented level over the last couple of years, and they were aware that they’d pay for it when the voters got their chance to have their say again. So, they’ve denied voters that say and have taken the Goering-at-Nuremberg route instead.
The most unexpected albeit welcome resignation of all was announced yesterday evening: The former Paedofinder General himself, Tom no-longer-tubby Watson, has stood down as Jezza’s second-in-command and as an MP. The usual nauseating guff was spewed out across news programmes from former colleagues and cohorts in the wake of the announcement; but this master opportunist has walked the plank because he’s run out of bandwagons to hitch a ride on. His position in the party has been increasingly marginalised with the defection of so many other so-called ‘moderates’ to the Lib Dems – those whose stance he failed to publicly support because it placed his own precious ambitions in jeopardy; yes, he survived an attempted coup on the eve of the Labour conference, though the People’s Vote smokescreen was to be the last ‘cause’ Watson would desperately use as a tool of self-promotion.
But perhaps the personal reasons Watson has offered as an explanation for his sudden exit are related to issues outside of routine party politics; perhaps Watson realised if he rose any higher in public office the level of scrutiny of his past activities would escalate; and Tom Watson has quite a record that even a snake like him would struggle to wriggle out of. The sentencing of Carl Beech earlier this year served as belated, official confirmation of something many of us had long known – that Beech was a dangerous serial fantasist who had already duped the police by exploiting their unswerving adherence to the ‘Believe the Victim’ mantra; he had also handsomely profited from a compensation culture that failed to dig any deeper into his own unsavoury predilections. And Tom Watson bought Beech’s bullshit because it suited his career path.
As an obscure backbencher with ravenous ambitions, Watson first made a name for himself by exhuming the nonexistent corpse of a distant ‘dossier’ listing the members of an imaginary Westminster Paedophile Ring that had been rightly dismissed as cack back in the 80s. Opportunistically tapping into the hysteria generated by the fallout of the Yewtree witch-hunt – and crucially supported by Beech’s celebrity abuse fantasies – Watson’s flabby bulk all-but burst out of his ill-fitting suit as he achieved his spot on the news bulletins and legitimised the scurrilous stories that had been doing the online rounds for years, stories spread by some of the most unpleasant individuals ever to approach a keyboard. An audience with Beech himself sealed Watson’s central role in a saga that would never have scaled the horrific heights (or plumbed the damaging depths) it managed thereafter when refashioned as Operation Midland had he not endorsed it. The casualties of Watson’s irresponsible intervention in a crusade that cost the tax-payer millions and achieved little beyond inflicting untold misery on endless innocent lives will never forgive him, and nor should they.
For some, however, it doesn’t matter that Beech has been convicted and sentenced and the entire affair has been exposed as the product of several sick imaginations; they remain convinced truth was at the root of it. This is their religion. What the sponsors of the Westminster Paedo Ring fable required in order to rise above the plethora of wild conspiracy theories keeping narcissistic sociopaths awake at night was the endorsement of a public figure outside of their toxic circle; and when Tom Watson seized upon the story as a means of furthering his career, they got it. No longer the province of Icke devotees and flat earth fruitcakes, this was now an official scandal because an honourable member believed it. Or did he?
As a Labour MP, Watson realised there are millions of voters out there who hate the Tories so much they are willing to believe any awful rumour because it confirms their prejudices – and might make them vote Labour. So, Ted Heath is still reviled by many for signing us up to the European project; say he was a child-abusing/murdering cannibal Satanist all along and that vindicates the disproportionate distrust the late PM continues to inspire. As any leader writer for the Mail or Guardian knows, it’s not hard to make biased bigots feel better about themselves by telling them they’re right – and Watson’s worrying promotion from backbencher to Deputy Labour Leader during the Corbyn revolution placed him in a position of power that appeared to give further credence to the crap that had put him on the front pages.
Viewed as a moderate voice essential to maintaining the ‘broad church’ illusion of equilibrium within the Shadow Cabinet, Watson held onto his post even when his allies gradually drifted away from the party – even when the persistent cancer of anti-Semitism proved too much for most of them. Yet, one never got the impression Watson stood firm because he was a lone heroic figure resisting the Momentum takeover; with Watson, it has always been all about him. Sensing which way the wind was blowing, he abruptly embraced the Second Referendum fad as a means of laying the foundations for a leadership challenge and capturing floating voters who could never warm to Jezza. The concern was he’d succeed in his aim. But Tom Watson has at least spared us all from that with his surprise announcement – and perhaps spared himself more awkward questions he still needs to be asked. It’s not a noble sacrifice; it’s still all about him.
© The Editor