Jon Lansman says early election would 'disrupt' Momentum's plans for Labour shake-up

The session comes after shadow chancellor John McDonnell, Mr Corbyn's strongest supporter, conceded today that Labour had made little progress in winning over voters since 2015.

John McDonnell today told the "i" newspaper it could take two years for Labour to be ready to fight a general election.

Former Labour minister Caroline Flint told the BBC's Daily Politics: "There is an absolute entryism through Momentum into our party to influence, from far left Trotskyist groups who couldn't get elected on their own platforms but are seeking to come into the Labour party".

Mr Watson said he would raise concerns with Mr Corbyn today about the idea that Momentum - the grassroots activists group backing Mr Corbyn - could affiliate with Unite.

It sheds more light on Mr Lansman's plans for Momentum - which sprung from Jeremy Corbyn's first leadership election campaign - to have more of a say in how Labour is organised. Dragging the party into this is disappointing'.

An apparent plan by the leftwing Momentum organisation to take control of Labour amounts to "a battle for the future existence" of the party, Tom Watson has said, urging Labour members to combat the threat.

Mr Lansman is said to express confidence, at the meeting on 1 March, that the Unite union and Communication Workers Union (CWU) will join forces with his campaign group if Mr McCluskey is re-elected as general secretary in a contest next month.

"Len McClusky has to show responsibility, too", he added.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 on Monday morning, Watson said: "I regard this as a battle for the future existence of the Labour party".

'I'll be raising it with him today.

'I'm the deputy leader and I didn't know about it until I heard this recording. This is high stakes.

"Jon Lansman outlined a hard left plan to control the Labour party after Jeremy's departure".

The statement was published after Watson accused Momentum chief and Corbyn ally Jon Lansman of plotting to "destroy" the party.

Christine Shawcroft, director of Momentum, said they are "moderates" and the political labels used by Mr Watson were "non-sensical". We will deny a voice to no-one. "We face big challenges and we need our mass membership to win again".

Ms Cartmail said: 'Tom Watson has made claims about Unite and its general secretary Len McCluskey which are entirely inaccurate.

A statement from Unite clarified that decisions to affiliate with another organisation could not be made by general secretary alone, the union's executive council would also have to agree.

'There are no plans for Unite to affiliate to Momentum.

The party's deputy leader said he was unaware of the extent of the plan before hearing comments by Momentum's founder, Jon Lansman, who was secretly recorded addressing supporters at a meeting of a new branch in London this month.

She said the leadership rules needed to be changed to stop Labour MPs "vetoing" a leftwing successor making it onto the ballot paper. That is not what the Labour party is about.

She then described him as someone who wants to go back to the Blairite "command and control" party structure that no longer fits with the party's membership.

'This is about democratising the Labour Party, which will strengthen the Labour Party, ' she said.

  • Leroy Wright