Bob Piper is right
For once Bob Piper is right about something: his respect for the seriousness with which my former flatmate and ex-boss (National Youth & Student Officer when I was NOLS National Secretary) Tom Watson will have taken signing the letter asking Blair to go: http://councillorbobpiper.blogspot.com/2006/09/revolting-mps.html
Tom & I have had some fairly serious political differences in the past - notably over electoral reform and Cuba - conducted in a robust fashion - but the bottom line is, as Bob says, he is a Labour loyalist to the core. I guess we will have to agree to differ robustly about him signing the letter too.
Contrary to what Iain Dale claims (http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2006/08/tom-watsons-shift-of-loyalties.html) this is not a "shift of loyalties" or "betrayal" by Tom at all. He has been a Brownite for at least six years, probably more, certainly longer than some of the recent PLP "Vicars of Bray".
The tragedy is that many MPs like Tom were pushed into a position of aligning with Brown against No10 for wholly avoidable reasons - in some cases like Geoff Hoon gratuitous and ungrateful demotions in reshuffles - in some like Tom the snooty, snobby de-haute-en-basse attitude of certain No10 staffers who were sniffy about the trade union old-style rightwingers who should have been the leadership's core support in the PLP.
The political managers around Blair bear a longterm responsibility for not making the effort to keep the PLP or indeed the wider party on side - something that in many cases could have been done just by making them feel wanted or showing some common courtesy and politeness.
Blair himself could have at least tried to show an interest in the Poor Bloody Infantry of the PLP in the tea rooms and lobby.
It is too late now to unmake those mistakes - not of policy or ideology but of basic political management.
I hope that the next incumbent and his team show a bit of inclusivity and an ability to bind wounds. I won't be holding my breath though.
If, as insiders are saying, Tom Watson is going to be Brown's first Chief Whip, I hope he treats his flock in the PLP as he ought to have been treated rather than the way that he was.