This entry was posted on
Wednesday, September 6th, 2006 at
11:54 am and is filed
under Tony ‘King Blair.
The Labour Party has been my life since I was 15 years old. I have served the Party at every conceivable level and your own leadership since 1994 in a dozen different capacities, latterly as MP for West Bromwich East, a Government Whip, and as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence. My loyalty to you personally, as well as to the Party and the values we stand for, has been absolute and unswerving. The struggle to fashion the kind of credible, convincing, effective Labour Party you now lead has been the preoccupation of my adult years.
My pride in what our government has achieved under your leadership is beyond expression. We have revolutionised the lives and expectations of millions of our citizens, combining social justice with prosperity in a way which is unprecedented in the history of our country. Your leadership has been visionary and remarkable. The party and the nation owes you an incalculable debt.
So it is with the greatest sadness that I have to say that I no longer believe that your remaining in office is in the interest of either the party or the country. How and why this situation has arisen no longer matters. I share the view of the overwhelming majority of the party and the country that the only way the Party and the Government can renew itself in office is urgently to renew its leadership.
For the sake of the legacy you have long said is the only one that matters – a renewed Labour party re-elected at the next general election – I urge you to reconsider your determination to remain in office.
As you know, I had a conversation with the Chief Whip last night, in which she asked me to withdraw my support from the 2001 intake’s letter calling on you to stand down, or my position would be untenable as a government minister. I have reflected on this overnight. I cannot withdraw my name, and therefore I accept her judgement.
I do not believe that statements so far give us the clarity necessary to progress over the next year. Nor do I believe that newspaper reports of potential dates which may have appeared since I signed the 2001 intake’s letter can provide the clarity the party and the country so desperately need.
It is with the greatest regret, therefore, that I must leave the Government.
Tom Watson MP
West Bromwich East
UPDATE – PA – Minister quits in protest at Blair: Tony Blair’s hopes of heading off Labour unrest over his resignation date appeared to be dashed, as a junior minister quit in protest at his continuation in office.
UPDATE – Ooooh, get her! 24dash.com – Ex-junior defence minister Watson branded ‘disloyal, discourteous and wrong’: Tony Blair branded ex-junior defence minister Tom Watson “disloyal, discourteous and wrong” today after he quit in protest at the Prime Minister staying in office. Within minutes of Mr Watson announcing his decision to resign, Mr Blair hit back, saying he had been planning to fire him anyway.
UPDATE (12:45pm) – A quick photoshop for you.
UPDATE (12:54pm) – Telegraph – Minister resigns in attempt to force Blair exit: As well as Mr Watson, a supporter of Mr Brown, the signatories to the letter from the 17 MPs in the 2001 intake to Parliament included up to six parliamentary aides to ministers. Among them were Khalid Mahmood, Wayne David, Ian Lucas and David Wright.
And news has just come in that Khalid Mahmood has resigned as Parliamentary Private Secretary (to Mr Tony McNulty, Minister of State).
UPDATE (1:20pm) – Another photoshop for you… Blair’s comment couldn’t pass without comment. (hat-tip to bigdaddymerk)
UPDATE (2:31pm) – ‘We’re risking election defeat’ Blair warns as six MPs quit: Mr Blair warned: “To put all this at risk in this way is simply not a sensible, mature or intelligent way of conducting ourselves if we want to remain a governing party.”
In one of life’s great coincidences, this closely echoes Rebekah Wade’s editorial, which is repeated below (in full) in all its barking glory…
The Scum – Madness of Labour rebels: The Labour Party today has one chance to avoid self-destruction and Tory defeat at the next election. Childish MPs hounding Tony Blair must grow up and shut up. They must leave the PM alone so he can complete the job he was elected to do by the nation. And they must allow him the dignity of handling his departure in his own way. Not theirs. Some hysterical Labour MPs are rushing around Westminster waving pieces of paper saying they are collecting names to force Blair out. This is the politics of the infant school playground. What these silly babies forget is that they owe their careers to Blair. Blair is the most successful Labour leader in British history. Three colossal election victories. Almost ten years in power, during which his strength and charisma has reduced the Conservatives and Lib Dems to a pathetic irrelevance. Whatever you think of Blair’s policies, no one can deny he is a world statesman. A man of courage, determination and principle. Who are these immature pygmies trying to drag him down? We know they have no brains. Have they no shame either? Those Labour MPs ganging up on the PM should be quite clear about the terrible risk they are taking. This growing spectacle of Labour tearing itself apart is frightening the voters and driving them into the embrace of David Cameron. Why else is Cameron so far ahead in the polls without a single policy? Labour are dragging themselves back to the dreadful days of twenty years ago when voters wouldn’t trust them to run Britain because they couldn’t run their own party. Much more of this folly will doom Gordon Brown’s chances of being PM for ever – because Cameron will be in Downing Street. Tony Blair has delivered a strong economy, a fair and compassionate deal for the less well-off, and made us a more aspirational society. That is a proud legacy. But the PM has more to do before he goes. He wants to sort out immigration. He wants to speed up health and welfare reform. He wants lots more trust schools. He wants pensions sorted and energy strategy settled. He wants to make us safer still against terrorists, and he wants to see his courageous policies in Iraq and Afghanistan make headway. The Sun says to those Labour jackals snapping at his heels: You are committing an act of madness which will destroy your party. If you really love Labour, leave Tony Blair alone to finish the job.
UPDATE (4:10pm) – Oh, come on. Don’t tell me the day’s over already… Tch!
UPDATE (9:38pm) – Lots of this noise this afternoon… Guardian – Blair faces crisis over resignations: The chancellor, Gordon Brown, was spotted leaving the rear of Downing Street earlier today after what was reported to be an angry and uresolved conversation with the prime minister. Unlike in previous crises, there was a conspicuous lack of cabinet ministers taking to the airwaves to defend the prime minister. However, the former cabinet minister David Blunkett warned Mr Brown and his supporters to “back off”. “It is now in Gordon Brown’s – and the Labour party’s – best interests for those seeking the prime minister’s immediate departure to back off,” Mr Blunkett said. “This is not only to avoid our opponents exploiting the impression of disintegration and division, but also to avoid the split of our party, which would have lasting consequences.” Mr Brown has made no public comment on the unfolding events today.
Oh, and Iain Wright has just resigned as PPS to Rosie Winterton.
Why so late? Well, perhaps he was a bit nervous after his last jump.
He may appreciate a sensible comment or two, especially as right now the majority of his visitors are going to be Sun readers.
Speaking of comments, keep an eye out for Blairite sock-puppets on weblogs, news/comment websites and even via ‘have your say’ features on the telling-vision.
Common themes include:
– Tony Blair was given a clear mandate for a full term at the last general election
– We are at war and these men are traitors