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Tom Watson resigns - with an embittered letter to Ed Miliband

By Mark Wallace
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Miliband Labour LeftThe Falkirk scandal, and the wider attempted union takeover of the Labour Party, has claimed its first scalp. Tom Watson has resigned as head of Ed Miliband's general election campaign.

There are various very good reasons for Watson to go over the various brazen attempts to fix Labour's selection process, as Dan Hodges recited earlier in the week.

Watson's resignation letter reveals that this is an increasingly sticky situation for Miliband - and it is evident that he is not resigning on good terms.

The tone speaks volumes - starting from the tongue-in-cheek reference to "Independence Day", through to the painful attempt to appear cool by pluggin his new favourite band (Drenge, since you ask), it doesn't seem like he's sad to be leaving the Miliband operation.

For that matter, his personal tribute to Ed as "Buddha-like" won't be in the running for most welcome epitaph of the year.

He quite deliberately does Miliband no favours with the facts he chooses to reveal, either. Only a day after Cameron castigated his opponent for lacking the guts to let Watson go, the letter says:

"As you know, I offered my resignation on Tuesday and you asked me to reconsider. I’ve thought about it and still feel it is better for you and the future unity of the party that I go now."

In doing so, he adds further fuel to a fire which he knows will cause the Labour leadership further discomfort in the next few days. The picture of the Opposition Leader begging a bruiser like Watson to stay is not an inspiring one.

Then we get to the meat of the matter - and an explanation as to why Watson appears so vengeful:

"Yet it’s not the unattributed shadow cabinet briefings around the mess in Falkirk that has convinced me that the arrangement has run its course (though they don’t help). I believe that the report should be published – in full – and the whole truth told as soon as possible so that the record can be made clear. I’ve still not seen the report but believe there are an awful lot of spurious suppositions being written."

So not only does he explicitly take a swipe at Shadow Cabinet in-fighting, he drops Miliband right in it on the secret Falkirk report, too. Labour have refused Tory and Blairite demands to publish - but it is hard to see how they can reject Watson's calls in the same way.

Labour sources tell me that the Watson operation are furious that Unite messed up the Falkirk selection-fixing so badly. They don't object to the idea of skewing selections to get Leftists selected - far from it, they are angry that the union's incompetence got the whole racket rumbled.

That he is now taking the fall for Len McCluskey's stuff-up in Falkirk, having got away with influencing so many selections elsewhere, rankles with Tom Watson. It offends his evidently extensive admiration for his own talents, hence his decision to write such a damaging resignation letter. No number of tips on new bands can hide that.