Tom Watson says Labour should end 'one member, one vote' leadership elections

Posted On: 
9th August 2016

Tom Watson has called for Labour to ditch ‘one member, one vote’ for leadership elections and revert to the old system which gave more power to unions and MPs. 

Tom Watson was elected Labour deputy leader last year
PA Images

Speaking to the Guardian, Labour’s deputy leader also hit out at “Trotsky entryists” for influencing younger members within the pro-Jeremy Corbyn ‘Momentum’ group, and he called for MPs to be given back control of who should be in the Shadow Cabinet.

Mr Watson said former leader Ed Miliband had made a “terrible error of judgement” by ending the electoral college, which chose a new leader by giving a third of votes to the parliamentary Labour party, a third to affiliated unions, and a third to ordinary members.

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The change to the system paved the way for Mr Corbyn’s victory last year, with hundreds of thousands of new members and registered supporters signing up to support the left-wing candidate.

Elections to the Shadow Cabinet were also abolished under Mr Miliband’s leadership – another change Mr Watson said should be reversed in order to give MPs a greater sense of control.

He called on the winner of the current leadership contest – whether it is Mr Corbyn or Owen Smith – to make the reform.

“I think if Owen wins it’s still important to do it, because a new leader has got to reshape and rebuild the PLP, and that means giving respect and dignity back to a lot of colleagues,” he explained.


Mr Watson reserved his strongest criticism for the hard left.

“There are Trots that have come back to the party, and they certainly don’t have the best interests of the Labour party at heart,” he said.  

Having previously described Momentum as a “rabble”, the deputy leader stressed that he did not believe the “vast majority” of new joiners were from that school of politics.

Instead, he blamed “old hands” for manipulating younger Momentum members who are “deeply interested in political change” towards their school of thought.   

He said: “There are some old hands twisting young arms in this process, and I’m under no illusions about what’s going on. They are caucusing and factionalising and putting pressure where they can, and that’s how Trotsky entryists operate.

“Sooner or later, that always end up in disaster. It always ends up destroying the institutions that are vulnerable, unless you deal with.”