Socialist Worker

Labour right seeks to block a fight against cuts and war

Issue No. 2485

Hilary Benn - Should he stay or should he go?

Hilary Benn - Should he stay or should he go? (Pic: RISING Global Peace Forum)

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has come under sustained attack over the reshuffle of his shadow cabinet expected this week.

The move has been described as a “revenge reshuffle” after shadow cabinet members defied Corbyn over his opposition to bombing Syria last year.

Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn and shadow defence secretary Maria Eagle are expected to be moved or replaced. Both voted in favour of bombing.

Meanwhile Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk, who wrote in the Daily Mail newspaper attacking Corbyn, was suspended from Labour. He is under investigation for harassing a young woman who asked him about a job.

But there has been no shortage of right wing, “moderate” and “soft left” Labour figures making harsh and sometimes bizarre criticisms.

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said the reshuffle would make Corbyn’s leadership an “authoritarian” and “brutal regime”.

And former Labour cabinet minister Peter Mandelson accused Corbyn and the “hard left” in Labour of trying to divide the party.

The attacks are aimed at undermining Corbyn’s leadership and blackmailing the Labour left.

The left wants Labour to oppose austerity and war. But it is held back by seeking unity with the right.

Shadow culture secretary Michael Dugher said Corbyn had to recognise that “Labour is a broad church, not a religious cult”.


Meanwhile Ilford North MP Wes Streeting said press briefings from Corbyn’s office were “undermining the work of opposition”.

He and others say that the division is stopping Labour from fighting the Tories—and they blame Corbyn.

But fighting the Tories would mean getting rid of warmongers like Hilary Benn who helped to pave the way for bombing in Syria.

And it would mean calling on Labour councils to refuse to pass on Tory cuts.

Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell wrote to Labour councillors last month calling on them not to set illegal anti-cuts budgets.

They argued that this would mean even harsher austerity as the Tories would be able to take over and set the budget themselves.

They said councils should focus on building campaigns highlighting the impact of cuts.

But an anti-austerity budget would be a significant challenge to the Tories. It could be used to mobilise protests and strikes in its defence.

And it could help to build a much bigger movement that could strengthen Corbyn’s leadership and the wider fight against the Tories.


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