January 7, 2016

ONLY A SHRINKING PARTY CAN BE AS PURE AS LEFT AND RIGHT DEMAND:

Jeremy Corbyn is untouchable now : As the Labour leader's strength grows, more and more moderates will be discarded (James Forsyth, 1/06/16, Spectator)

Dugher's sacking indicates how much Corbyn's position has strengthened since he won the leadership last September. He is still not in total control, as demonstrated by the survival of Hilary Benn as shadow foreign secretary despite his disagreement with the leader over Syria. But he is more secure than in his first days in the job, when chief whip Rosie Winterton was effectively instructed to get bums on the front bench by any means necessary. The result was a shadow cabinet that included people who had never met the leader and others who were bitterly opposed to his politics. Now, Corbyn has a team with views closer to his own. Crucially, the new shadow defence secretary, Emily Thornberry, is another unilateralist.

The events of the past few months have vindicated those who simply refused to serve under Corbyn because they so profoundly disagreed with him. Labour figures who took the opposite course lent credence to the idea that the shadow cabinet would represent the full spectrum of Labour opinion. But the sackings of Dugher and the Blairite Europe spokesman Pat McFadden show that Corbyn intended to have such people on his front bench only for as long as necessary. And as his strength grows, more moderates will be discarded. By accepting a job, then being sacked, Dugher and McFadden confirm that if anyone is in charge of today's Labour party, it is Corbyn.

The removal of Dugher has also demonstrated that Tom Watson, the deputy leader, cannot protect those who fall on the wrong side of Corbyn. Many in the parliamentary Labour party were relying on Watson, the only person other than Corbyn with an individual mandate, to shield them from the leader and, perhaps more importantly, his supporters. The removal of Dugher, one of Watson's best friends in the shadow cabinet, shows the limits of the deputy leader's power.

Corbyn's consolidation of his position has not been accompanied by any public surge in support for him. In fact, the opposite has happened. According to the latest YouGov poll, 60 per cent of voters now think he is doing a bad job as Labour leader. And it isn't just the opinion polls; Labour is doing even more badly in local council by-elections than it was in the last parliament.

It's a Freedom Caucus wet dream.

Posted by at January 7, 2016 11:44 AM

  

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