If you’re a newer member of the Liberal Democrats, you may well not know the history of some of the campaigns against the party which Tom Watson has run or been closely involved with.
They included some of the most aggressive, illiberal and personalised smears I’ve seen in politics until the last few years. He and the Liberal Democrats have frequently been very much at odds, including over Parliamentary reform.
He may have changed, he may have mellowed, and he may have become more liberal. Certainly, there have been some good causes he’s worked cross-party on and I even did a tiny bit of that with him a few years back (so tiny, he’s probably forgotten!). And I’m usually first in the queue to say that people can have changed rather than have their past held against them forever.
I mention this in case you wonder why some longer-standing party members, especially those on the receiving ends of such campaigns, react frostily to postings from newer members saying how great it’d be if he joined.
I think it’s very unlikely he’ll ever leave Labour, let alone want to join the Lib Dems but if he does, we should definitely learn from recent previous controversies, remember how many personal scars people have from the past, and to act sensitively and accordingly.
(And yes, it’s a really weird political world where I’ve ended up writing a post about this topic!)