My Christmas DVD pledge

Your weekly update from Tom Watson MP, deputy leader of the Labour Party. 

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I couldn't have had a better week! When I announced Labour's pledge to halt the rise in diabetes within five years of being in Government, I really didn't know what to expect.

I was all too aware that obesity is not a popular issue to talk about. It doesn't get you hundreds of likes and shares on the Facebook and Twitter buttons. It doesn't grab the media headlines.

But on Wednesday when, in a speech at the UK Active conference, I told my personal story - of losing 98lbs and putting my Type 2 diabetes into remission through altering my nutrition and exercise - something crazy happened.

I received thousands of messages of support; TV and newspapers gave up acres of space and time to highlight the issue; a short social media video of my story has been watched by more than half a million people; and strangers are literally stopping me in the street to ask for diet tips.

So apologies if you sent me a message and I have not been able to get back to you personally. But where people, struggling with weight issues are reaching out and I can offer a few words of support, I will do my very best to respond.

Perhaps most importantly of all, I hope that I have helped kickstart an urgently needed national debate about the public health crisis around obesity and related illnesses that our country is facing.

In the next few weeks I will be announcing details of the independent Commission I am setting up with Shadow Health Secretary to Jon Ashworth to deliver answers to the very difficult question of how we can reverse the tide of rising obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

We'll be looking for input from across the spectrum: medics, nutritionists, experts, charities, real food campaigners, dieticians, people struggling to lose weight, fitness instructors and independent thinkers. If you want to have your say, I'd very much appreciate your input.

And one last pledge since I have been asked so many times this week...There will be no Christmas DVD!

A decent start…

On Friday the government launched a consultation on calorie labelling of menus in restaurants, cafes and takeaways across England. This is an important step towards giving people the knowledge they need to make the right diet choices.

No doubt vested interests in the food industry will lobby against the move. Already one minister has been out of the blocks describing food labelling as "burdensome" for business.

I'm sorry but that is nonsense. What is "burdensome" is the £10 billion cost to our NHS every year of dealing with diabetes, and the terrible toil the disease takes on the lives of people and their families.

Stool pigeon


Sometimes watching events unfold in the U. S. feels like watching a Mafia mob movie. So the BBC news coverage of Paul Manafort flipping against Trump on Friday night brought a smile to my face - with Kid Creole"s Stool Pigeon playing in the background! Great choice of tune. 

There's a gentleman that's going round 
Turning the joint upside down 
Stool Pigeon - ha-cha-cha-cha

Click on the pic to get a play...



More shame on the Murdochs


The Australian newspaper cartoon depiction of Serena Williams, clearly drawn from 19th Century caricatures, is racist and sexist. It cannot be described as anything else. I am absolutely confident NO newspaper in Britain, or America, would have published it.

By any decent value, Rupert Murdoch and his clan should have sacked the cartoonist and the Editor, and issued a grovelling apology to Williams. Instead they doubled down with gnarled old cliches.

This tawdry episode provides further proof, if any were needed, that Murdoch is not a fit and proper person to run a major media company, or any media company for that matter.

Festival dazzler


Capable of dazzling us even in minor roles, Olivia Colman stepped up to her biggest-ever film role and blew the opposition away to win at the Venice Film Festival.

From the uncertain Sophie in Peep Show, through her captivating performances in Broadchurch and The Night Manager, to the frail and volatile Queen Anne in The Favourite, she's unmissable on screen.

But she's also starred off screen by supporting good causes like the Anthony Nolan blood cancer charity, the campaigns for better media depictions of mental illness, and - as patron of the youth theatre charity Tender - is doing brilliant work to prevent future domestic and sexual abuse.

Encore, Olivia.


A song for Europe


Google's YouTube has been ripping off the creators of our world-leading music industry for years. This week’s vote by MEPs in favour of Article 13 is a huge victory for artists and music makers, and a vital statement to the big tech giants Google and Facebook that we are no longer prepared to tolerate their rip-off duopoly. Well done to everyone in the brilliant #LoveMusic campaign.

Hip-hop and Hull



Hull was where I went to university. So it will always have a place in my heart. And now it's year in the spotlight as City of Culture has been documented by director Sean McAllister.

His film, A Northern Soul follows struggling factory worker Steve Arnott's attempt to bring hip-hop and rap to the city's estates. He did this using a bus-turned-recording studio the Beat Bus, and the team behind the project want to keep it going. If you fancy donating to a good cause helping deprived communities then now is your chance.

The film gets an airing in Westminster this week (19th September) at the Resolution Foundation. Can't wait to see it.

Sharing the stage

It's hard to believe it's taken this long. But a performer has made West End history by becoming the first to take on a role as a job-share. Charlene Ford is in 42nd Street and will appear in three shows a week after having son Jenson six months ago. Ford claims she was turned down at first. However, she kept on pressing for it and eventually won through.

The latest statistics suggest employers need to do more to be flexible- the number of staff in job-shares has fallen in five years. Any schemes making it easier for parents to work and look after their families should be supported.

10 years on


Ten years ago Lehman Brothers collapsed. I remember the apocalyptic scenes that day in the high rise office blocks on Wall Street, where as a government minister I was helping UK digital start-ups looking for deals.

Yet most of the bankers made it through the global recession that ensued, fat on the bonuses and property empires they had built up gambling with other people's money, and the billions in state aid that bailed their institutions out.

But in Britain millions of the poorest and most vulnerable are still paying the price to this day, leaden down by years of unnecessary and ideologically-driven Tory austerity.

As Stamp Out Poverty director David Hillman says: "Cuts were a deliberate political choice, a decision to use the crisis to shrink the public sector, increase the private, and favour the interests of the rich."

Our country now has a cart-horse for an economy, with wages driven to the floor, workers's rights trampled down, welfare payments cut to the bone, our NHS, housing and education systems broke, household debt at all-time highs, and four million children too poor to eat healthily.

Austerity was, and remains, a brutal economic experiment that has shattered the living standards and hopes of millions of British families. The history books of our time will shame the Tories forever.

Picture of the week


I love this picture of Giraffes in the snow in South Africa - by Kitty Viljoen.