Watson, Tom

Overview

 

Tom Watson is the former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and was the MP for West Bromwich East from 2001-2019. Watson sat on the frontbench under four successive Labour leaders.

Towards the end of his political career, he was best known as Jeremy Corbyn’s Deputy Leader and soft-left ‘frenemy’.  Watson struggled to conceal his disproval at the direction the party was taking under Corbyn.

Now out of politics, Watson pursues his various passions including, but not limited to, music, gaming, exercise, poetry and writing.

Tom Watson

The former Deputy Labour Leader has been training to become a gym instructor.

What is Tom Watson Doing Now?

In 2020, Watson was hired as an adviser by ‘Flutter’, a gambling firm which owns brands like Paddy Power and Betfair. As an MP, Watson had previously been an outspoken campaigner for stricter rules on gambling.

Alongside this, Watson is training to become a gym instructor, and has also been hired as the Chair of ‘UK Music’, the trade body that represents the UK music industry.

Deputy Labour Leader, and Quitting Politics

In 2015, Watson comfortably won a five-way contest for the Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party.

In this role, Watson had likely initially envisioned deputising for Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper; however, the shock 2015 Labour leadership election saw socialist Jeremy Corbyn take home the spoils.

From 2015-2019, Mr Watson frequently found himself at odds with Corbyn’s office. In the aftermath of eight Labour MPs leaving the party to create the Independent Group (TIG) in 2019, Watson became a prominent voice for holding the party together – often reportedly going behind the back of Corbyn to do so.

Watson released a Facebook video in which he refused to criticise the new TIG (soon to be Change UK) members. Watson also went on to found the Future Britain Group to rally centrist Labour MPs. The Group attracted 130 MPs to its cause and obtained endorsements from both Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock.

Watson was also a prominent ‘Remain’ voice both before and after the 2016 Brexit referendum. Refusing to accept the initial result Watson argued in favour of a second referendum long before Corbyn was ready to commit to such a policy. Watson had said he wanted Labour to become ‘the party of Remain’.

Watson’s approach garnered criticism from Labour Party activists allied to the Corbyn leadership. At one point this was even said to manifest itself in a death threat. Eventually, Watson stood down from his position just before the 2019 election. Although initially citing personal reasons, Watson later pointed to ‘the brutality and hostility’ existing in the Labour Party at the time.

Watson later revealed that he had voted for Owen Smith rather than Jeremy Corbyn, when the former had challenged his then boss, in the 2016 Labour Leadership election.

Watson stood down from Parliament in the 2019 election. Although little reference was made to it at the the, Mr Watson had potentially seen what was coming. A few weeks later, his West Bromwich East seat was won by the Conservative Party.

Early Political Career

After holding a job at the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union (AEEU), a union generally painted as being towards the right of the TUC movement, Watson stood for the Labour Party at the 2001 election in the constituency of West Bromwich East.

Watson’s first government role was as a government whip (2005-2006). However, Watson first rose to prominence as a short-lived Under Secretary of State for Defence. Watson took up this position in May 2006 only to resign in September. Watson’s resignation was part of a calculated move to further pressure Tony Blair into resigning, and the move was ultimately a successful one.

When Blair did resign in 2007, the new Labour Leader Gordon Brown made Watson a government Whip. From 2008 to 2009, Watson was Minister for Digital Engagement and Civil Service Issues, as well as Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office.

After Labour returned to Opposition, Watson again rose to prominence when evidence emerged of phone hacking at the News of the World. Watson served on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee and was dogged in this questioning of the Murdoch family for their alleged role in the scandal.

In April 2010 he co authored a book entitled ‘Dial M for Murdoch’ which investigated the links between the Murdoch media empire and senior MPs.

After winning the Deputy Labour Leadership Election in 2015, Watson also served as the shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (2016-2019).

Watson has previously written pamphlets for the Fabian Society around the issues of compulsory voting and how to handle radioactive waste.

Tom Watson Weight Loss

Between the summer of 2017 and September 2018, Watson lost 44 kg in weight and reversed his type-2 diabetes diagnosis. Watson, once cruelly nicknamed ‘Tommy two dinners’, said he was inspired to lose this weight after reading a biography of his Labour hero John Smith, who died aged 55.

Now with a passion for exercise and keeping fit, Watson started to train as a gym instructor.

Tom Watson Music

Among his many passions, Watson is a music-lover. In a previous resignation letter to Ed Miliband when stepping down as the party’s general election co-ordinator, Watson recommenced the rock band ‘Drenge’ to the Labour Leader.

Watson was also a founding member of the ‘All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music’.

Now out of Parliament, Watson is the chair of ‘UK Music’.

Personal Life

Watson is a lover of video games and once wrote an article for the New Statesmen entitled ‘A date with Destiny: Tom Watson on the best and worst games of 2014’.

Watson is divorced with two children.

Social Media

Twitter – @tom_watson