Three months or so after Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn appointed his initial Shadow Cabinet, already an upheaval is under way as that entity is being reshuffled at this very moment.Some has already happened, no doubt more is to come. A running 'blog is being run here.
As many expected, this has become an exercise in removing at least some of those who voted against the Dear Leader's wishes in the free vote (i.e. not Whipped) on military intervention in Syria – although the initial perceived threat to Hilary Benn (who made the strongest case for intervention, from the Labour side of the Commons) was later dismissed but has today re-appeared.
My feeling is that he has to go if the Corbyn leadership stance is not to be weakened, especially during this reshuffle. We shall find out this afternoon!
Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher has written about what he and others have termed a 'revenge reshuffle', calling it neither good politics nor the supposed Corbyn 'new politics'. He is right – and in fact his piece is (perhaps surprisingly) well worth a read, though one does need to grit one's teeth when reading the predictable references to the supposedly 'wicked Tories' and just ride over all of that.
However, the point of it was – as Dan Hodges has long been aware, and has written about – for Corbyn to stamp his personal authority on his leadership of the party, and in the process eliminate most if not all of the significant dissent that had been occurring in recent times. It is useful to read Dan's piece to realise just how effective this has been.
This is not to say that the whole was handled well, especially by 'Jez' himself – unless his intention was to produce the exact side-effects that Iain Martin documents here. As one sometimes finds when looking at something sideways-on, there might have been a deliberate purpose to handling all this the way he has done, camouflaged by the broad perception that he was botching it as usual. Perhaps yes, perhaps no...
Overall, this is a moment in the Labour party's long history that will be marked as a turning point, one way or another, and whether it survives as a viable influence could very well be being determined right now. That old saying about 're-arranging the deckchairs on The Titanic' springs to mind: whatever is done on the inside, without regard to the world beyond, will make no difference to the party's sinking below the political waves.