Thursday, 5 November 2009

Mark Watts: 'Trots behind NUJ Left'

Mark Watts, who is running for editor of The Journalist, today claims that the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party helped to re-launch NUJ Left last November as "a vehicle to take control of the National Union of Journalists."
Watts' attacks on NUJ Left and claims that it is trying to "hijack" the union are polarising members of the NUJ during the election for the editor of The Journalist. There are accusations that he is running a "Reds under the beds" McCarthyite-style campaign aimed at Rich Simcox, a rival candidate who has the support of NUJ Left. Watts has accused Simcox of concealing his links to NUJ Left.
Watts' latest claims are contained in a lengthy posting tagged "Exclusive" on his FOIA website this morning.


whealie said...

I give up. Does Watts write in green ink?

On 17 October, on, Watts referred to my blog posting about how the NUJ election works (he described it as drivel). But he declared he had read it. That piece of mine ( said:

Rich Simcox is the candidate backed by the NUJ Left (opens new window). The NUJ Left is a ragtag alliance of tankies (pro-Stalin “send in the tanks” communist party members), anarchists, Trotskyites, Maoists, socialists and left wing Labour Party supporters. I’ll put my hand up to being one of the many misfits within this grouping.

If you have seen Monty Python’s Life of Bryan portrayal of the sectarian hatred between the various popular/peoples’ fronts, you’ll realise that getting NUJ Left agreement on anything is pretty hard.

I disagreed with the way they decided to back Rich Simcox before nominations had even closed. Several other “lefties” are not backing Rich Simcox as their first preference vote (we get to vote in order).

Nothing Watts has come out with had not been said before.

In his current piece he quotes Simcox as pointing out the secret meeting he refers to was listed on the NUJ website and advertised in an official NUJ Active email.

These are hardly the tactics of a cabal acting in secret.

His claims to exclusives days after others have published the same information, and his claims of secrecy and deceit despite the evidence, suggest Watts cannot tell the difference between truth and his version of journalism.

TimGopsill said...

My nervous system can't take much more of the excitement of Mark Watts's revelations ... Today's episode says inter alia of the NUJ left forum...

'In an apparent reference to NUJ vice-president Peter Murray, Simcox continues: "As Pete said, a draft NUJ Left manifesto will be circulated for consultation shortly and an agenda will be e-mailed nearer the time." ... Murray is understood to have been a speaker at the forum'.

I don't know who told Mark Watts that but a clue may have been the fact that Pete Murray's speech was printed in the next Journalist headed "It helps to have a political compass" and credited to the event.

I ran it because it was an excellent argument for socialism in trade unions, my own creed. I never had a single complaint, query or comment about running it.

Declaring an interest, I was a speaker at the forum too.

Jon Slattery said...

I've been sent a link to Murray's speech, as published in Jan/Feb 09 edition of the Journalist:

Marc Vallée said...

On the week that NUJ members – myself included - face violence, intimidation and death threats from the far right. What is Mark Watts doing? Attacking NUJ members with his so called “investigations” via the FOIA Centre. One can only imagine how he would misuse the Journalist if he got his hands on it.

Martin Cloake said...

The green ink theory would seem to be confirmed by Watts's extraordinarily childish response to me on the jco forums. But it is tricky to work out whether he is bad or just mad. I've made the point elsewhere that this sort of campaigning gets people hurt - so I have every sympathy with Mark's point.

Donnacha DeLong said...

One of his main reasons for claiming the Swappies organised the relaunch is the fact that their paper promoted the event. Sheesh, hope he never sees Time Out, he'll have evidence of a magazine organising virtually every cultural event in London!

And, for the record, if the NUJ Left was organised by ANY party, I'd have nothing to do with it. It's a delightrully ragtag bunch as whealie puts it and that suits me fine.