6th January, 2016
NOTE: Updates to rolling resignations etc at end of post
A painful 36 hours and the sacking of Michael Dugher and Pat McFadden
This should be a post celebrating a Labour reshuffle. A reshuffle that puts us into full campaigning mode ahead of the various electoral contests in May. Contests that we need to do well in.
But the Labour Party of 2016 isn’t that predictable. It sees an open goal and quickly lobs the ball into the back of our own goal.
So, back to the reshuffle.
Almost 18 hours after the reshuffle started the first decision was made public. The SACKING BY PHONE of Michael Dugher from his position as Shadow Culture Secretary. According to Dugher his crime was to speak out against Momentum, the left wing faction that is plotting to deselect Labour MPs who don’t worship at the shrine of Uncle Leon. The sacking was announced by a furious Dugher who promptly took to the airwaves to put his case to the public (OK, most of whom were asking – ‘who? Michael who?’).
When Dugher was appointed to the Culture job a joke bounced around Westminster about Dugher not having read a book since he left school… primary school. But that misses the point. He is one of our best communicators. A great campaigner and yes he is brutal. He attacks Tories with ease and they hate him. But apparently so does Corbyn. Other frontbenchers issued statements saying how much he would be missed.
Me? I think Corbyn has just placed the political equivalent of the red dot of a sniper’s rifle sight to his own head. Dugher will not shut up. He will still remain a Labour loyalist but when the coup comes, and it will, Dugher will be the sniper who takes that all important first shot.
But I feel for Corbyn. Facing situations like this, which are totally new to him, his advisers should be there to help and guide him. Instead they crack silly jokes and issue sarcastic statements to the press. To them this seems to be a game. It reminds me of when Gordon Brown was let down by his team during the election that never was. Instead of insisting on a coherent line and message for journalists, they too resorted to cheap jokes and sarcasm. We know what happened next.
But every time I start to feel sympathy Jeremy pulls me back and quickly reminds me that he is undeserving of any sympathy. To him it seems it is all a bit of a joke!
I imagine Corbyn had his ‘dream’ team written down but was wrong-footed and confused as one by one his allies declared that they were either happy where they were or didn’t fancy joining the shadow cabinet at all. The latter group of course adding “unless you insist on it”.
Faced with all of this what does Corbyn do? A good, strong leader would face down the doubters and push ahead. Announce a shadow cabinet that would push his policies through; which would speak for him. But Corbyn isn’t good. He isn’t strong. He is a leader trapped. Trapped by his own self doubt. But mostly trapped by the baying mob that is Momentum. For it is they that own Corbyn and not Corbyn that owns them.
Late into Thursday night news came out that Pat McFadden the Shadow Europe Minister had been sacked for ‘disloyalty during the Paris attacks’. He has certainly been sacked but the reasons haven’t been confirmed but this is what McFadden said:
I agree with every word and if Corbyn does have a problem with it he needs to explain and explain quickly what it is.
The other changes are Emily Thornberry replacing Maria Eagle at Defence with Maria moving to Culture. Pat Glass replaces McFadden.
Emma Lewell-Buck takes on the devolution role as a junior minister attending cabinet.
So rather than a reshuffle we have an act of vengeance by an angry, vindictive leader.
It is no longer about who survived and who didn’t. It isn’t about who walked and who didn’t.
None of that matters. We have just seen the real battle for the soul of the Labour Party start.
Where am I? I am in the trenches with Watson, Dugher, McFadden, McTernan and the others. Last time we won but didn’t finish the job. [Kinnock -v- militant and the founding of New Labour].
This time we will.
The prize? A Labour Party that speaks to and for my class, for those who need a helping hand. A Party that applauds aspiration and achievement. A Party that people can once again trust and believe in.
Where are Michael Dugher and Pat McFadden at the moment? Probably campaigning against the Tories – that won’t ever change.
Resignations from the junior positions have started with Jonny Reynolds and Stephen Doughty going (the latter announcing his resignation live on TV).
Westminster rumour mill is in full flow and Emily Thornberry may be the only person left shadowing Defence in a few hours.
Corbyn and his team remain defiant but it is possible that sacking McFadden was both petty, foolish and will be the moment recorded in history as Corbyn’s first real defeat.
By Barnabus Howard
Please note: articles and posts on ‘Middle Vision’ reflect the views of the individual authors and not of all involved in ‘Middle Vision’
RELATED – Britain Deserves Better Than Corbyn The Destroyer