Labour policies drowned out by Momentum plot - and MPs are seething

21 September 2019, 12:11 | Updated: 21 September 2019, 15:40

Party conferences are usually a time for a show of unity.

Not this year. Not in this party.

The attempt to abolish the post of deputy leader, and by default Tom Watson, is a major gasket blowing in the party, after a prolonged period of rising pressure.

But it's not solely about Brexit.

As so often is the case in politics, this is mainly about loyalty to the leader.

And what's in no doubt, is that Tom Watson has been prodding the bear for a while now.

Be it setting up a separate group of centrist MPs inside the party, calling for antisemitism complaints to be sent to him or launching his own Brexit policy on the same day as a Labour announcement, he has consciously and firmly ruffled feathers.

Now the Corbyn foot soldiers have tried to step in, forcing their own leader to kick the issue into the long grass.

In reality, the strength and scale of the backlash from MPs and some unions required Jeremy Corbyn to act.

The summary execution of the flag-carrier for party moderates risked a leadership challenge or even a split.

It also appears that the man behind the manoeuvres, boss of the Corbyn-backing group Momentum Jon Lansman, was freelancing somewhat.

"He overstretched himself and it's beyond stupid," was how one MP put it.

Indeed, other Corbyn loyalists said they were unaware of the motion, with many unhappy that the issue could now dominate conference to the detriment of other announcements.

That will almost certainly happen and lays the foundation for the coming dust-up over Brexit.

With a general election around the corner, it's no surprise that many are seething.

"A pointless counterproductive fight" was how the shadow health secretary characterised it.

Others said Labour appeared to be fighting itself when it should be fighting the Tories.

But while Tom Watson will survive this conference, this is an argument that will rear its head again.

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Some speculate the attempt to defenestrate him was part of a plan to secure the future of the party.

They figure that if Labour loses to Boris Johnson, then Mr Corbyn may be forced to resign.

That sets alarm bells off for Corbynistas as it could mean Tom Watson stepping in as interim party leader.

Whatever the reason, Labour once again appears to be more concerned with itself than with the country.

It's only saving grace could be that the Conservative Party is currently in the same boat.