Socialist Worker

Corbyn is right to stand up to his opponents—but he must go further

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2485

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (Pic: Jas?n/Flickr)


Three Labour shadow ministers have resigned following Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet reshuffle. Jonathan Reynolds and Stephen Doughty stepped down after McFadden was removed.

Kevan Jones has also resigned as a shadow defence minister. Corbyn had replaced his boss, pro-Trident Maria Eagle, with the anti-Trident Emily Thornberry as shadow defence secretary.

Good riddance to them.

Some other right wingers are considering resignations. They must be confronted, not appeased.

Jeremy Corbyn was entirely right to sack Michael Dugher and Pat McFadden from Labour’s shadow cabinet and to shift Maria Eagle.

Dugher was an open opponent of the Labour leader. He denounces Corbyn’s links with the Stop the War Coalition. And he called the Labour grassroots organisation Momentum a “mob” whose “aggression is matched only by their stupidity”.

McFadden had denounced Corbyn’s reaction to the recent Paris killings.  In government he blocked workers’ rights, and this year nominated the Blarite Liz Kendall for leader

He suggested that Corbyn had entirely ignored the Paris killers’ role in the events and simply blamed Western-backed wars. 

Corbyn’s mistake was not to go far enough. In particular he backed off from removing Hilary Benn as shadow foreign secretary.

“Those who make half a revolution dig their own grave.” Let’s hope that’s not true about half-made reshuffles.

As a condition of staying, Benn apparently agreed not to publicly oppose Corbyn from the Labour frontbench as he did over the bombing of Syria.

But today he told Sky News, “I haven’t been muzzled. I’m going to be carrying on doing my job exactly as before.”

In any case, Benn will pick his moment to again put himself forward as the standard-bearer of Corbyn’s opponents.

The Tories and the right-wing press lauded Benn to the skies when he spoke for the bombing of Syria. He compared imperialist intervention to the actions of the anti-fascist International Brigades.

They will be ready to support him again. The battles have been postponed, not avoided.

Corbyn left Benn in place because he feared a shadow cabinet walkout of up to ten MPs. It would have been better to let them go and have a shadow cabinet that could unite against austerity, Trident and war.

Certainly Tony Blair had no compunction about removing Robin Cook (who later opposed the Iraq war) as foreign secretary when he showed some mild disagreements.

St Just, a leader of the French Revolution of 1789 said, “Those who make half a revolution dig their own grave.” Let’s hope that’s not true about half-made reshuffles.

At the moment a few hundred Labour MPs are flaunting their rejection of the decision of hundreds of thousands of labour members to elect Corbyn.

They should not be allowed to get away with it.

By compromising with the right, Corbyn risks blunting real resistance to the Tories.

It is in the interests of everyone who hates austerity, racism and war to support Corbyn against the right. But we also have to urge him to go much further.


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