Socialist Worker

Right wing Labour MPs plan shadow cabinet comeback—but only on their terms

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2524

Hillary Benn rallies the Labour right at the party conference last week

Hillary Benn rallies the Labour right at the party conference last week (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Jeremy Corbyn was under pressure this week to accept a compromise deal on shadow cabinet elections with those who tried to oust him.

Corbyn’s resounding reelection as leader last month means some of those shadow ministers who resigned in June want to return to the fold.

Others have said they won’t come back unless there are shadow cabinet elections confined to the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).

They want to fill the shadow cabinet with MPs who could force him to climb down further over issues such as Trident or nuclear power.

Some said they would only join the shadow cabinet if John McDonnell is axed as shadow chancellor. Sources “close to Corbyn” ruled this out.

A spokesperson for Corbyn said a “not insignificant” number of shadow ministers would return this week, including “surprising names”.

Corbyn was re-elected as Labour leader with 62 percent of the vote—more than his first victory last year.

But the pressure to unite the party could see him make concessions to the right. He was in talks with chief Labour whip Rosie Winterton and PLP chair John Cryer this week.

He has indicated he would appoint MPs who stayed loyal to him, including many of those who stepped in during the mass shadow cabinet resignations.


In his speech to Labour conference last week, Corbyn said those MPs “all deserve the respect and gratitude of our party and movement”.

But deputy leader Tom Watson demands that a majority of shadow cabinet positions are elected by the PLP.

Corbyn and the left have lost influence on Labour’s national executive committee, after conference gave the leaders of Scottish and Welsh Labour the right to appoint representatives.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, who has said Corbyn is “not competent” to be Labour leader, appointed herself.

Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones appointed Welsh Assembly Member Alun Davies, who has called Corbyn’s leadership “an absolute electoral disaster”.

The moves to keep undermining Corbyn show the Labour right won’t accept defeat. Trying to unite with them will only mean backing down on key policies.

It would strengthen those who want to drag Labour back to the days before Corbyn’s leadership.

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