Do you know what a shadow cabinet is in politics?
In politics, it is the role of the opposition to hold the government to account, and depending on the size of a party’s elected members, they may or not have the opportunity to form the next government or be part of a coalition.
The job of the shadow cabinet is as I said to hold the government to account, and where necessary either support, object or propose policy options in all departments of State.
In times where the government has gone taken military action, the House of Commons for the most part tends to take a united front in supporting the military on the ground. The shadow cabinet gets briefings from government officials which we are all somewhat familiar with, leaders of the opposition getting intelligence briefings is standard and commented in the media in times of crisis.
This was a bad year for the Labour Party; the party effectively was shut down as CLPs weren’t allowed to conduct business as the leadership contest against Jeremy Corbyn raged.
Jeremy Corbyn who I voted for won the contest fair and square beating Owen Smith decisively.
When I blogged on the contest I stated that the resultant win although re-electing Jeremy was meaningless, as the opposition to him wouldn’t accept him as leader, this leaves the party in limbo and in crisis. Another thing which I also mentioned is that the call for unity is entirely meaningless, the Labour Party is spilt, you are either pro Corbyn, anti Corbyn or a member of the third camp, don’t know, don’t care didn’t vote for either.
172 Labour MPs decided in effect that will of the people, in this case the membership doesn’t matter, they think because they were elected under a Labour ticket that speak for the entire party. Last time I looked I saw a figure of 500,000 people as Labour Party members, the rights of the 500,000 who each have an individual vote in how the direction of the party should proceed.
The 172 Labour MPs don’t and shouldn’t any additional rights that an ordinary member has when they vote.
No one and no group is special.
It now transpires that the Labour rebels have decided to setup and use a 'shadow shadow cabinet' to circumvent Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. This is entirely wrong and counter productive, this running sore will be used the government to highlight that the party isn’t a party of government in waiting but a disorganised group divided by bitter infighting.
If the Labour rebels defy Jeremy Corbyn's new front bench by using their own "shadow shadow cabinet" to take policy positions, the only solution to this nonsense is removal of the party whip. Jeremy Corbyn also has to change his mind on some of the statements that he has recently made. Just recently he said that he supported freedom of movement, although that might seem very noble, he has got that badly wrong. This isn’t in tune with what the wishes of the British are at this present moment in time, ironically what is termed the Labour ‘moderates’ who want continued EU membership are calling for this measure. Other measures included; a third runway at Heathrow and renewal of Trident nuclear weapons.
I back tighter immigration controls, and renewal of Trident nuclear weapons, you will have read my stance on the need for an EU internal immigration policy and during the Scottish independence debate that Scotland need to continue to host a nuclear submarine base at Faslane.
Third runway for Heathrow, don’t have a position on this measure.
To justify their position those who are against Jeremy Corbyn say that:
“Our duty is not to the leader, it is to the party.”
The Labour Party at this present moment is in a strange place, I back Jeremy Corbyn as leader but some of his policies are unworkable, on the other side of the divide, the “moderate” camp has policies which are morally repugnant to me and unethical, so I stand in no man’s land.
I don’t feel drawn to either Momentum or the ‘Moderates’, before I go on, I don’t like using the term “moderates” that doesn’t describe the progress camp of the Labour Party.
A happy camper on the “moderate” side blurted out this gem, and it is important to remember this quote:
“Jeremy Corbyn is still the leader. So what? I’m going to do what I want to do.”
Do you remember my recent article on people charting their course in the Labour Party, this is a clear demonstration that this practice.
Here I am trying to defend Jeremy Corbyn and he isn’t making it easy for me to do so, if he has advisers then patently he needs to get someone else in to assist. A lot of his good ideas will get drowned out because some people will provide the ammunition which will be use to not just rubbish them but also tar his leadership.
The shadow cabinet reshuffle by Jeremy Corbyn was not without incident, the thing which stuck out for me was the sacking of Dame Rosie Winterton, who had been the party’s chief whip since 2010. This got a lot of exposure in media, of course reshuffles are about change, however, given that Dame Rosie Winterton has extensive experience, I am unsure whether her being moved is something I would have done. An appointment which wasn’t a surprise was Baroness Chakrabarti to the position as shadow attorney general; this was trailed in the media as more or less an odds on certainty.
Diane Abbott was appointed as Shadow Home Secretary; the outburst she made regarding Brexit was a disgrace, whether you voted to stay in or leave the EU, each position had a case worth arguing. On this issue there was merit on both sides, Diane Abbott decided that the ‘race card’ should be played to call Leave Voters ‘bigots’, ironically one of the best and most impassioned speeches came from a young black man who appeared in the Victoria Derbyshire show. The vote to leave the EU was about sovereignty; all the other side issues like immigration, terrorism and costs arising from membership were all just symptoms.
The Parliamentary Labour Party [PLP] is made up of the party’s 258 MPs, most of whom voted no confidence in Mr Corbyn over the summer. Their campaign which saw 172 Labour MPs resign in a tidal wave didn’t have the desired effect; it literally blew up in their faces as Jeremy Corbyn decided he wouldn’t be pushed out.
At some point there will have to be a decision on how this situation can be ended, it is doubtful that peace will be breaking out anytime soon.
Labour cannot fight a successful election unless the issue of the PLP is resolved, although Jeremy Corbyn said there was a need for unity, the evidence tends to point elsewhere by what is going on. Since the entire Scottish Labour Party MPs bar one got wiped out in Scotland, there isn’t the same problem; however ‘North of the Border’ there are other issues to be addressed.
Unless Scotland can be turned around there will be no Labour Government at Westminster for some considerable time.
If the Labour rebels think that by having a 'shadow shadow cabinet' that they are presenting themselves as a credible alternative to government and defeating the Tories, then they are sadly deluded.
This type of action will put pressure on the party to go through the mandatory re-selection process which has been floated because of the boundary changes, this will I think see the end of some of the high profile party members who have previously served in government.
The success of the Labour Party lies in adopting a shift to the left, this will be the way back, the route to government and in turn the way to change the United Kingdom to a better society.
If you think things are bad at the top of the party, further down the ladder things aren’t exactly rosy in the garden either, matters haven’t been helped by closing down of CLPs to get party business done and also localised campaigning.
Speaking to a party member today, he said to me that he was unsure what the Labour Party’s message was, that makes two of us, and both of us are interested in politics.
The next test for the Labour Party in Scotland is the Council Elections in 2017, in Glasgow, the Labour Party knows that they face a hard task, with a five month shutdown; this will have an impact on the doorstep, for those who don’t do politics, a council ward is roughly about 20,000 voters. Normally three council wards make up a constituency, in Pollok; this would be wards, 3, 4 and 5.
One person to do an entire ward would take circa 30 days straight putting in treble campaigning shifts, given a normal campaigning session is roughly two hours, you are talking three months just to get round everyone, when you go canvassing making your sales pitch that takes considerably longer.
Bottom line that is a ton of work and a hard slog!
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University