Ed Miliband needs 'show of unity' in face of Tom Watson resignation

Labour leader Ed Miliband must counter the 'major damage' done by Tom Watson's resignation as the party's election co-ordinator with a 'show of unity'.

Tom Watson: 'A very powerful figure'
Tom Watson: 'A very powerful figure'

Watson stepped down from his shadow cabinet role yesterday following allegations that the Unite union had attempted to influence the vote for the next Labour candidate in Falkirk.

Watson, whose office manager Karie Murphy was the union's choice for the seat, departs amid a growing spat between the party and union over the allegations.

Kirsty Walker, associate director at iNHouse Communications, said the departure of a ‘very powerful figure’ in the party would inflict ‘major damage’ to Miliband.

‘You want Watson in your team, not out of it,’ she said. ‘Considering Watson’s role as a maverick figure, he will be even less restrained in what he says. This makes Miliband look weak and slightly diminished.’

A Labour internal inquiry into the affair resulted in the suspension of Murphy and Falkirk chairman Stephen Deans from the party.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey labelled the inquiry ‘a stitch-up'.

McCluskey said he had ‘no trust’ in the party’s handling of the issue and denied the union had been involved in signing up members to the constituency party and paying their subscriptions.

In his resignation letter, Watson said he believed the report should be published and praised Miliband’s ‘compassion and resolve'.

Gurpreet Brar, a partner at Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, played down divisions between Unite and Labour, but said that Watson’s departure reflected deeper issues and needed 'a show of unity' in response. 

Brar said: ‘Whether it is around the unions, or right and left divisions within the party, people feel the leadership has not done as much as it could to bring elements of the party together.

‘Watson’s resignation could have been handled better and Miliband looked like he was behind on the issue, but the opportunity to bring people together is still there.

‘Miliband should not rush to replace Watson. He should wait for the upcoming reshuffle and focus on bringing everyone back together with a unifying candidate.’

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Latest Articles

John Lewis to tell brand story with "tasteful" 150th anniversary celebrations

John Lewis to tell brand story with "tasteful" 150th anniversary celebrations

Department store John Lewis is to use its 150th anniversary this year to talk about its history, which "not enough people know about", according to director of communications Peter Cross.

Labour hires Obama election strategist David Axelrod to fight General Election

Labour hires Obama election strategist David Axelrod to fight General Election

The man who helped Barack Obama win the 2008 and 2012 US presidential elections is to work for Labour along with members of his team.

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Pay-TV giant Sky has added Fever PR to its agency line-up for a wide-ranging brief covering products and services.

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford has been sent home for Easter and will reconvene on Tuesday for further deliberations about its verdicts on 11 charges of indecent assault.

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

The Home Office has tasked Munro & Forster (M&F) with supporting its campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of a wider retained brief.