EXCL Tom Watson says 'thanks but no thanks' to Emily Thornberry's offer of election help

Posted On: 
6th November 2018

It is not unusual, during general elections, for candidates to visit each other's seats to knock on doors, hand out leaflets and drum up support.

Tom Watson and his election agent pose in front of a St. George's Cross during the 2017 election.

Usually, they are in neighbouring seats or are just friends eager to help one another out. It's safe to say that Tom Watson and Emily Thornberry do not fall into either category.

Speaking at the south east Labour conference on Saturday, Ms Thornberry revealed that during last year's general election, Labour bosses had asked her to visit West Bromwich, where the party's deputy leader was defending a majority of 9,470.

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She said: "During the election, Labour HQ were telling me don't waste your time visiting Canterbury, we need you to go and help Tom Watson save his seat in West Bromwich. How wrong they were. I won't be doing that again."

This revelation was news to Watson, who comfortably held onto his seat with a majority of 7,713 without any assistance from his Shadow Cabinet colleague.

It is arguable whether Thornberry - who was forced to resign from Ed Miliband's front bench in 2014 after tweeting what many people viewed as a sneering picture of a house in Rochester festooned with St. George's flags - would have been much of a help, in any case.

During the election, Watson posed with his election agent in front of a giant mural of a St. George's Cross - one of many such displays of English patriotism in his constituency.

A friend of the Labour deputy leader said: "West Bromwich is about the most patriotic constituency in Britain, with more St George’s flags than an England match at Wembley stadium. It’s news to us that Emily was directed to visit the constituency during the election. Perhaps thankfully for all concerned, she couldn’t fit us in."

The message from Watson to Thornberry could not be clearer: Don't call us, we'll call you.