What now follows the longest Shadow Cabinet reshuffle in British history – the ‘last rights’ for the Labour Party?

pmqs2 LabourLeader  Keir Hardie Labour Founder

RedFlagLabourThe Red Flag (original symbol of the Labour Party)

Oh yes, the last rites prayers are made on behalf of those facing death as being terminally sick. Is that where the English Labour Party has ended up in 2016, do you think?

A mere matter of four months ago, as a result of an unexpected devastating Labour defeat at a General Election last May, the membership elected (unbelievably?) as their new Leader, one Jeremy Corbyn with an astounding majority – a total newcomer to front line politics of course, but nevertheless a long serving MP of over thirty years standing, but with an outstanding pedigree as a maverick, both inside and outside Parliament? From the outset, he indeed has been a serial defaulter when it comes to voting in accordance with his Party’s position (he has rebelled time and time again and ignored the whip on some five hundred and fifty occasions) – the only surprising thing about that though, is that his behaviour had been tolerated for so long, and that he has not had the whip withdrawn, surely?

When Corbyn beat all the odds (and some experienced competent potential Leaders) it was recorded here that he had no leadership pedigree, experience, knowledge, or known potential – and so it has transpired, don’t you think? His lack of leadership qualities has been cruelly exposed – in other words he has made a pig’s ear of it, hasn’t he? Not only that, but it was also recorded that because of his own track record, he certainly could not expect his fellow Labour MPs to toe the line, could he? Oh yes, he has now ignored that stark glaring fact and set out to assert his authority as Leader and trash those whose views are different from his – theirs being socialist mainstream, while some of his are bizarre to say the least, are they not?

When Corbyn suddenly rose to the top of the Labour pile, many uncommitted observers hoped that he would simply bring in a breath of fresh air to modern British politics – instead he has simply increased the bad smell, many believe? He promised to introduce a new era of honest straight-talking politics, and claimed he would accommodate, with total tolerance, the wide church of opinion which existed within the Labour Party – that has now proved to be a totally falsehood (at best). It is not clear if the demise of his ambition is solely down to him, or how much of it is down to his fellow-traveller cronies (who are a much more if not less talented, despicable crowd).

Despite Corbyn previously being a lone wolf within his parliamentary party and having very little support from amongst his fellow MPs, nevertheless to the surprise of many pundits, a highly respected gaggle of them agreed to serve in his first Shadow Cabinet – despite having quite widely differing views and opinions on major issues (which he well knew about naturally). That happened, so they got Corbyn over the hump of that major task of forming an Opposition of course – the first hurdle of his Leadership tenure if you like. Was he grateful, did he appreciate the immediate credibility that his diverse shadow cabinet brought him?

Apparently ‘not’ – after really what amounts to only weeks (though as the saying goes “a week is a long time in Politics”), when they could have only started to master their new briefs (following the earlier reshuffle, again only a few months beforehand, resulting from the Election), he let it be known that he was going to ‘reshuffle’ his shadow team, WHY, for goodness sake? So he could get rid of those who most disagreed with him, of course – their usefulness had been expunged, hadn’t it? And that included those who had spoken-out and voted in Parliament with different beliefs, on what was though for Labour a ‘free vote’ (because Corbyn knew that there would be a widespread rebellion if didn’t give that – and he couldn’t risk such a public early trouncing of his own views, could he?).

The Corbyn clique then widely trailed the names of the recipients of their planned cull – the main head to be severed was that of heavyweight Hilary Benn [son of Tony Benn, of ‘renounced’ Lordship fame, an anti-war campaigner, but an utterly respected lifelong top politician (deceased two years ago) – quotation ‘a faith is something you die for, a doctrine is something others kill for’], who had picked-up the portfolio of Shadow Foreign Secretary at the request of temporary stand-in Leader Harriet Harman, before agreeing to carry-on for Corbyn (bringing to the new Shadow Cabinet the experience of two posts in government and four shadow roles in opposition). His big mistake? Making an outstanding keynote, widely acclaimed, outstanding speech in Parliament in favour of military action airstrikes in Syria, which some say marked him out as a future potential Labour Leader? Corbyn’s nose was certainly put out of joint, because he himself had argued ‘ineffectively’ the direct opposite, and the one getting both the parliamentary attention and the media headlines was Benn, and not the Opposition leader, was it? Corbyn’s mates quickly voiced their view that Bann, and all others who had supported the Government’s desire for such air action, should be pushed out (not only from shadow roles but from parliament to boot).

The next target for the chop from Labour’s shadow front bench was the Shadow Defence Secretary Maria Eagle, who indeed had only been appointed to that role in desperation by Corbyn, who couldn’t get some important others to accept the task – because he himself is strongly anti-war, anti-defence, anti-armed forces, anti-aggression, anti-killing terrorists, and anti-everything else to do with the protection of Britain (which with an appeasing long in the tooth pacifist as boss, makes such a defence job a source of substantial conflict and a bit of a non-post waste of time, doesn’t it?). Anyway Eagle took it on though, bringing to the table the experience of five government and three shadow previous appointments (she is these days a career politician, you see). But her wings had to be clipped didn’t they? Being principled or speaking honestly, on matters that Corbyn had a different view on, couldn’t now be allowed, and she had served her purpose anyway, hadn’t she? Yes, and furthermore she believed in silly things like defence and specifically was pro the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent (very unfortunate when Corbyn certainly didn’t, eh?),

Then of course, the guns were out also for the likes of Scot Pat McFadden, shadow Europe minister, because he spoke-out in the Commons on issues of substance about national security and against terrorism, plus criticising the Corbyn supported ‘Stop the War’s outrageous apologist comments on the ISIS terrorists’ Paris massacres – a dangerous career opinion when Corbyn and some close mates [like John McDonnell (shadow Chancellor) and Seumas Milne (spin doctor)] think that terrorists should be hugged not shot, eh?

So what was the outcome of it all then? In a word a total “Shambles”. Labour are now on the verge of civil war at Westminster, and a reshuffle designed to create a more unified shadow cabinet was utterly bodged, wasn’t it? The prime target Benn was spared the execution, when it became clear that too many supported him and were not prepared for him to be ditched. That threw a spanner in the total works, didn’t it? It meant that there was not a single night of long knives, but three days of mayhem and uncertainly, that left Corbyn having failed to stamp his authority over the Party as planned,– in fact the exact opposite was achieved. There was a face saving attempt to claim that Benn had agreed to watch his Ps & Qs in the future to keep his job – but nobody believes that of him, do they?

Eagle was done for though, but then accepted a more junior role simple to stay-on as a minister – what else response can you expect from an ex-lawyer, eh?

However, popular and valued McFadden’s subsequent demise was an issue too far that brought the castle down and in the wake of events, three other ministers simply quickly stacked (one dramatically during a live TV interview) – Corbyn wasn’t expecting that, was he? It was unjustly put about that McFadden’s sacking was down to his displays of ‘incompetence and disloyalty’ (but NOT EVEN ONCE in some eleven years as an MP has he voted against the whip). What is more, while McFadden certainly would have held PM David Cameron’s feet to the fire over his recent cock-up on renegotiations over Europe, his personal sacking and the Party’s naval gazing, meant that Labour totally failed to effectively attack the Tories on that issue, so they completely dropped the ball – hardly the best way to regain power, was it?

Nobody disputes that it is Corbyn’s prerogative to decide his frontbench team, but when he carries out an early unnecessary attempted revenge reshuffle, in such an incompetent way that has left the Labour Party in turmoil and disarray, one has to question his abilities as Leader, surely?

What will all this do to Labours chances in the local elections this summer? Likely devastation? If so, how can Corbyn carry on, and more importantly how can the Labour Party ever survive the crisis? The Conservatives and indeed all the minor parties are rubbing their hands in glee, aren’t they?

 

[The chaos and bloodletting is all happening when Labour under Corbyn are supposed to be generating their policies now at the grass roots to be passed up to the Executive, rather than being passed down from the top – but by the time that is done (a year?) the Labour Party may well have truly expired (having received the ‘last rights’ already?)].

 

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