Tom Watson: Len McCluskey is trying to oust me as Labour's deputy leader

Posted On: 
14th June 2018

Tom Watson has accused Unite boss Len McCluskey of trying to oust him as Labour deputy leader.

Len McCluskey fell out with Tom Watson two years ago.
PA Images

The Labour MP said his former friend was "coming for me" as part of their feud over attempts to unseat Jeremy Corbyn as party leader in 2016.

Speaking on Nick Robinson's Political Thinking podcast , the Shadow Culture Secretary said he and Mr McCluskey - who were briefly flatmates - had not spoken since the unsuccessful coup.

WATCH: Unite boss Len McCluskey blasts Labour MPs for 'feral' attacks on Jeremy Corbyn

Tom Watson slams Len McCluskey after fresh blast at 'Corbyn-hater' Labour MPs

Len McCluskey: Labour MPs using anti-Semitism to 'attack and undermine' Jeremy Corbyn

He suggested the trade union boss had put pressure on him to condemn the Labour MPs involved in the attempted coup, something he refused to do.

Mr Watson said: "It is very difficult that, because we were friends socially as well as understood each other politically.

"Sadly, we fell out over that week when Jeremy went into the second leadership election, and I've not spoken to him since that week.

"I felt very difficult there, because Unite funded my campaign, they didn't nominate me, and I think he felt that I, in some way, was obligated to him personally.

"And my obligation was to the Labour party. You may severely criticise me for taking the wrong position, and that's fair, but I'm not going to be bullied by Len McCluskey.

"I certainly wasn't going to be bullied by Rupert Murdoch, so I'm definitely not going to be bullied by Len McCluskey. And I think he found that very difficult."

Asked whether Mr McCluskey wanted him replaced as Jeremy Corbyn's second-in-command, the West Bromwich East MP said: "Yes, he is coming for me. They're upping their delegates and all of that," he said.

"What will be, will be. He's powerful enough, if he wants to take me out as deputy leader, he probably could, but that's up to him. I'm just going to get on and try and bring everyone back together and do what I can as best I can."

Mr Watson's comments are the latest salvo in the bitter war-of-words between him and veteran left-winger Mr McCluskey.

Last month, the frontbencher hit out at the union chief after he suggested MPs who are critical of Mr Corbyn should be deselected.

Mr Watson told Sky News: "If he's saying that we should start removing hard-working Labour MPs from office then I think that would be a mistake and would be a diversion from our ability to campaign against Tory austerity, which I assume Mr McCluskey wants Labour MPs to be doing."