Now annoyingly, this piece will probably sound a lot like Owen Jones’ recent piece about a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle but I promise you I had this in draft when he published. He copied me Miss!
So, I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. As a Labour Party member who joined in the 2015 rush and excitement of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership election I have found it hard to maintain a consistent level of drive and commitment to Corbyn and his leadership. As you’ll know from this blog, for me Corbyn is like Marmite – you either love him or you hate him.
At first I loved him, he was injecting a fresh energy into the party after the calamitous 2015 election and he has opened the door to policy ideas that have been long awaiting their time in the spotlight. The Overton window inside the party has firmly shifted to a Democratic Socialist platform which is where it should be.
But honestly, I’m bored. I can’t put it any other way. I am bored of Corbyn and his shadow cabinet. And I am actually furious at the cadre of advisors and yes-men he has around him in the leaders office. Because what plagues the leadership now is a bunker mentality.
After the 2016 leadership challenge, after the Change UK split, with the ongoing antisemitism and Brexit rows, the leadership is now trapped inside a mindset that sees any divergence of opinion as open treachery. I don’t like to make the comparison, but it is reminiscent of the way Soviet leaders viewed their supposed opposition (just without the assassinations!). Everything is a conspiracy, everyone is trying to bring you down, everyone wants your job! Remember paranoia is the first sign of madness.
The enthusiasm and excitement of ‘straight talking, honest politics’ has now been replaced by a sluggish monotony that reminds me of David Cameron’s type of politics. Remember “Long-term economic plan?” Remember “Strong and stable leadership?” These were derided as politician-speak because….they were. ‘For the many, not the few’ was great in 2017, but it’s boring now.
If you keep repeating it in every speech, every press release, every statement – people will become bored, including Labour members like myself. Boredom is never something politicians should want to inspire in people. And unfortunately, Corbyn has proved himself to be a politician just like the rest…and quite a bad one at that.
The way he has triangulated on Brexit, the utterly dire and actually shameful way he has dealt with the Antisemitism crisis and his general equivocation has made me question his and his teams political judgment.
This also applies to much of his shadow cabinet which is dominated by people who blindly agree with him or appear to, and people who just aren’t inspiring ministers. On big, important issues like the environment, Labour needs someone who can go out into the media and make the case for tackling the climate emergency. Has anyone actually ever heard of Sue Hayman? Has anyone ever seen or heard her on the airwaves? Is she inspiring? Unfortunately, the answer to all of those questions is a resounding no.
Now I don’t like singling people out, and I’m sure all of the shadow cabinet are hardworking constituency MP’s. But I can’t say it any other way, most of them do not cut it. The Tory cabinet is filled with big beasts in their own right. David Cameron’s cabinet was the same. Brown’s, Blair’s, Major’s, Thatcher’s. They were all the same, they were filled with people who were proficient spokespeople for their department and good ambassadors for their parties.
It is time for a major reshuffle, where corbyn should be investing in young, backbench talent from ALL wings of the party. There has never been a more important time to have Labour’s broad church represented at the top of the party, because balance, debate and accountability is essential to a functional political organisation.
Just some names I’ve been thinking about who have impressed me are Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Stella Creasy, Clive Lewis, Lloyd Russel-Moyle, Meg Hillier, Bridget Philipsson, Lisa Nandy, Melanie Onn and David Lammy to name but a few.
We need fresh energy in the shadow cabinet to take on the new Tory leader and their cabinet when they arrive, and unfortunately the current lot just aren’t up to it in my eyes.
Time to rejuvenate the party and prepare for government, because looking at where we are it could happen any day.