While doctors strike and houses are destroyed we focus on a leader doing what he’s supposed to do
On Friday Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at last finalized his shadow cabinet reshuffle, promised since the 8th of January. Many labelled the move one of revenge for the way his cabinet voted on the motion to begin bombing raids in Syria back in early December. That vote had Prime Minister David Cameron and Mr Corbyn at odds over the first major issue since Corbyn’s overwhelming victory for the Labour leadership back in September.
The new appointments of the reshuffle are as follows:
Blackburn MP Kate Hollern has been appointed Shadow Defence Minister
Darlington MP Jenny Chapman has been appointed Eduction Minister
Cardiff Central MP Jo Stevens has been appointed Shadow Prisons Minister
Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald has been appointed Shadow Transport Minister
Ashton-under-Lyne MP Angela Rayner has been appointed to Shadow Work and Pensions
Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton has been appointed to Shadow Foreign Affairs
Mr Corbyn also replaced MP Maria Eagle with Emily Thornberry, which most speculate is due to the latter’s desire for unilateral nuclear disarmament.
Former Shadow Europe Minister Pat McFadden was also fired due to what Mr Corbyn described as ‘disloyalty’ after Mr McFadden appeared to criticise the Labour stance on terrorism.
And despite what many expected Shadow Foreign Secretary Hillary Benn has maintained his position in spite of his heated opposition to Mr Corbyn’s stance on Syrian airstrikes. Mr Benn denies any claims that he has been ‘muzzled’ by the Labour leader in exchange for the retention of his position.
More importantly why has there been such a media storm around this reshuffle? Why do people think this is something new and strange? One columnist at the Independent observed that the rules seem to have gone out the window with regards to Mr Corbyn. Labour MPs cry on Twitter over ‘unfair dismissal’ while Mr Corbyn ‘exercise[s] a smidgeon of the heavy-handed control they practiced under Blair’.
So what is the problem?
Mr Corbyn said this to the Yorkshire Post:
‘My great failing in life is to listen to everybody at whatever greater length they wish to speak to me … And so I sat in my office until midnight for two nights running to go through all of this and we finally completed all the appointments last night by a series of text messages while I was on the platform at a huge rally … It was very modern.’ Then latter at a dinner he received some ‘lovely texts’ back. ‘In my line of work you don’t often get nice texts’.
This couldn’t sound further from revenge. Could it be that Mr Corbyn’s critics are looking for reasons to attack the Labour leader and his socialist values? Or perhaps it isn’t the values as much as the far-left’s history of purging their own members in Stalinist Russia or Maoist China? The word ‘purge‘ has here been unjustifiably used in conjunction with the reshuffle. But perhaps it is meant to reflect Mr Corbyn’s vitriolic anti-feminism … just as he appoints a record number of female MPs to his cabinet.
Yet despite this appointment of female MPs Mr Corbyn continues to be criticized by the likes of Labour MP Jess Phillips. Ms Phillips called Corbyn’s move a ‘bit of a pat on the head’ for women in the party. This begs the question: What must Mr Corbyn do to appease his many critics? Mr Corbyn’s team now consists of 17 women and 14 men, an almost unprecedented ratio, yet the criticism doesn’t abate for a second.
What, then, must Mr Corbyn do to gain the approval of his Labour Party? It was his values, and consistency of values, that gained him his spectacular victory in September. Is he now to bow his head to the establishment just to be able to carry out a peaceful leadership?
If history is any indicator that is by no means what he will do. Jeremy Corbyn will never abandon his values despite attacks from all sides and that is why he is exactly what Labour needs more than anything else.