Tom Watson has a moral leadership that smacks in no way of moralistic leadership. There are too many self-righteous people in politics at the moment for us to want any more – yet doing the right things properly, and learning from mistakes where made, are surely what we should be looking for in future leaders.
Humility is hard won and easily lost, but after his battles with the empire of the Murdochs, for all the right reasons and properly, and in a horrifyingly developing aftermath still developing horrifyingly with respect to VIP paedophilia, Watson is still more humble than most of us would be in similar circumstances – as well as focussed, also still, on the task of improving a whole society in complex and far-reaching ways few of us will ever get to perceive.
To know the awful underbelly of a body politic and yet, even so, to love it enough to want to save it from itself – without falling into the trap of a public, and self-publicising, self-righteousness – is achievement indeed.
And it ennobles him.
So rather than Deputy Leader, I’d like to vote for him as Leader. (Even as this voting for a leader in general goes against my grassroots impulses and instincts – but more of this below …)
Where Blair, David Miliband, Liz Kendall et all were tempted/might be tempted some day down the line to tread, I think it difficult to contemplate that Watson would do the same.
He deserves a chance; we deserve that he has that chance too.
Stella Creasy has a shorter trajectory as befits her relative chronology, but has similarly been placing example before fine words. This may lose her the Deputy election – or not; I don’t know – but, as a longer-term strategy, can only operate in the same way as Watson’s: don’t tell people what you want to do; show them instead … in fact, take the time you need – and the time your people need.
Choose your targets politically and humanely, both.
Get on with the job in hand.
Lead by that example I describe.
Lead through a careful seeding of actions. Like growing turf over time, not laying it overnight.
Think first in private; develop your ideas in a slow-burn and sophisticated way. Sophisticated in the sense of coherent, cogent and careful, though – not in the sense of wonkish. Not any more.
Then primarily do and demonstrate them in practice, whether people understand yet – or not – how far ahead you’re headed.
For me, it’d be a wonderful start to a renewing Labour if Tom Watson ended up Leader and Stella Creasy ended up Deputy. We’d then have what I’ve asked of Twitter today:
Perhaps (yes, I can see you’re desperate to do so) you would argue that Jeremy Corbyn combines the twin virtues of, on the one hand, moral leadership and, on the other, grassroots adherence – that is to say, all in one? The easy answer too, maybe, to the tweet in question – and the conundrum I pose implicitly?
I’m not sure I’m going to allow you to convince me. I suspect, when history one day gets told, that Corbyn’s campaign will be seen more as employing the kind of machine-politics tools we once loved about New Labour. More rigid in its values, mind – in the sense of never swerving from them, ever – but then again, I never liked Thatcher … precisely because I’ve always valued fudge.
It seems more human, more necessary, more appropriate for complex times … where the simpleness of black and white only hurts those of us who vote hopefully for them.
My choice is cast, and cannot be cast. My dream ticket is Tom & Stella. But Labour is unable, for me, to deliver.
At least this time round, anyhow.
At least in 2015.
What should I do? Vote for no one this month – and wait a couple of years in hope, for another chance?
What say you – Tom and Stella?
What should I do?