Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet reshuffle has not succeeded in purging those uncourageous moderates who pledge allegiance to their leader’s face but talk mutinously behind his back
After four long days, Jeremy Corbyn’s so-called “revenge reshuffle” is finally complete, the whole exercise resembling nothing so much as a tedious game of musical chairs played by a group of largely forgettable and unexceptional B and C-list politicians.
However, perhaps Jeremy Corbyn should not call an end to his shuffling just yet, given the fact that some notably less-than-loyal courtiers inexplicably remain in their posts.
In his latest column, devoted to examining deputy leader Tom Watson’s balancing act and divided loyalties, Dan Hodges writes:
Watson sees it as his mission to keep the Labour Party together. But everyone knows that is mission impossible. Labour is heading for all-out civil war, and there is nothing Tom Watson or anyone else can do to stop it.
“Tom’s going to have to make a choice soon”, one shadow cabinet minister told me. “Is he part of the solution to Corbynism, or is he part of the problem?”
To the mind of this Labour MP, serving in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, Corbynism is “part of the problem”. Imagine for a moment what outrage there would have been if, just months into Ed Miliband’s disastrous tenure as Labour leader, a shadow cabinet member had said that Milibandism was part of the problem and something to be undermined from within.
Imagine what everyone would be saying about the rank cowardice of that shadow cabinet minister, who disagreed with everything that their leader believes in but who lacked the courage to forsake their position and say so publicly.
Jeremy Corbyn’s reshuffle has only just been completed, and already a shadow cabinet minister has given this juicy morsel of a quote to Dan Hodges. Truly, the Labour Party seems to have a death wish, preferring to go down in a blaze of whining, sanctimonious victimhood rather than tough out a few dry years in the political wilderness.
Yes, of course both sides are at fault, although I would side with the Corbyn team’s bumbling ineptitude over the calculating self-interest of the moderates-in-exile every time. But one thing is certain: it will be impossible to keep the Labour Party together so long as shadow cabinet members are making such toxic briefings against their own leader immediately after having been re-confirmed in their own jobs.
Here we are again, confronted with yet another anonymous Labour “heavyweight” with the duplicity to profess loyalty to Jeremy Corbyn’s face and then run straight to sympathetic journalists the very same day with tear-jerking stories about how the Labour leader hurt their pwecious feewings.
Will they muster the courage to say to Jeremy Corbyn’s face what they so gladly regale to the Telegraph? Of course not. Because for them it is not about principle, or honour, or doing what is best for the Labour Party – despite their earnest protestations the the contrary.
If his detractors truly believe Jeremy Corbyn to be as terrible as they continually tell Dan Hodges he is, they have a moral duty – over and above any consideration for their own careers – to rise up and depose him immediately, just as those people who call the present government “evil” should be launching an insurrection on the streets of London rather than posting preening, overwrought status updates on Facebook.
But just as those angry keyboard warriors who accuse the Evil Tories of supposed human rights abuses will astonishingly not be found storming the gates of Downing Street in morally justified insurrection, neither will Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet detractors be spotted collecting signatures of fellow MPs in a serious attempt to oust their despised leader. No, instead they will be found moping into a pint glass at a dark Westminster drinking hole, spilling their sorry guts to Dan Hodges. What bravery. What principle. What courageous heroism is this?
I would understand the incessant carping and undermining of Jeremy Corbyn from within the Labour Party if there were some other great and noble faction vying for supremacy and influence – if some other, unfairly marginalised figure within Labour had a cunning plan to offer the electorate something different and reinvent the party for the twenty-first century. But there quite evidently is no such group or individual waiting in the wings with a burning vision for Britain.
On the contrary, instead of a King Across The Water waiting to reclaim their rightful throne, there is only the same ragtag assortment of fading New Labour machine politicians and grasping, telegenic SpAdocrats who so repulsed the voters last time round that it led to the election of Jeremy Corbyn in the first place.
This is why I balk at those malcontents within Labour who simply cannot stop themselves running to the media with salacious court gossip and bitter invective about their leader, seeking to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership at every turn. What is their bright alternative? What radical new platform will win back Scotland, inspire Middle England or turf out an uninspiring but power-hungry Conservative Party whose grasping, centrist tentacles are well on their way to establish a hegemonic lock on the levers of power for the next decade?
Exactly. The malcontents have nothing. Tumbleweeds.
Is Jeremy Corbyn going to win the 2020 general election and become the next prime minister of the United Kingdom? Almost certainly not. But guess what? Neither will Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Chuka Umunna, Dan Jarvis, Stella Creasy, Gloria De Piero, Luciana Berger, Hillary Benn, the Eagle sisters or Lisa Nandy. Neither the Labour front bench nor their back benches are brimming over with immediately obvious future prime minister material.
With the Labour Party already at such a low ebb, is a few years of Jeremy Corbyn’s red-blooded socialism really likely to do more damage than an Ed Miliband Mark II? Hardly. So in the absence of anything – anything at all – resembling a more appealing prospect, why not spend the next eighteen months trying something new and letting the Corbynites have a turn?
But the malcontents just can’t do it. They might not have the first inkling of what they want instead of Corbyn – let alone what the voters might want. All the plotting moderates know for sure is that they have been suddenly and unexpectedly turfed out of power and influence within the Labour Party. And it is just eating them up inside.
There is no violin small enough to play in mournful solidarity with these hapless centrists – Labour MPs whose only fixed and immovable belief was the desire to wield power and influence, shamelessly trading on the storied name of their party while peddling the same soul-sapping centrist consensus as nearly everyone else in Westminster.
May their richly deserved time in the wilderness be long and harsh.
May they suffer and roar together.
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