Corbyn’s reshuffle

THE PARLIAMENTARY Labour Party has been in turmoil as Jeremy Corbyn has implemented a modest reshuffle of the Shadow Cabinet in order to try to create a more united front bench.

The right wing Blairites have taken Corbyn’s declarations of openness and readiness to debate all issues facing the party as a free hand to attack him, misrepresent everything he says and to do everything they can to undermine his leadership.

The Labour Party has always been a very broad movement but for the last few decades the quasi-Tory middle class right-wing careerist intelligentsia have held the leadership in a grip of iron.

They changed the annual conference from a policy debating chamber into a rally to worship the leader.

Tony Blair with his chief henchman Alistair Campbell tolerated no open debates or remarks deemed to be “off-line”. MPs were deselected, candidate selections were stitched up behind the scenes and the whole party was restructured to entrench their hold on the leadership and to keep out the rank-and-file activists and volunteers who were fighting for social justice. Writer Armando Iannucci made a TV career out of satirising the process.

They still cannot believe they failed to prevent Corbyn taking the party leadership and they are dead set on getting him out of office as soon as possible.

So they take his pledged for open debate and tolerance as a weakness that they can use against him.

They are doing their utmost to divide the party leadership while berating Corbyn for leading a disunited party and being an ineffective opposition.

Under Corbyn’s leadership the party has succeeded nevertheless in countering and driving back a number of draconian anti-working class measures and forcing Cameron to backtrack on some key issues — something his predecessor Miliband did not even attempt. These include increased state snooping and cuts to tax credits.

In spite of Corbyn’s pledges, debate and discussion cannot be infinite. A party that never makes up its mind where it is going becomes paralysed. And the structure of the party created by the Blairites gives Corbyn the absolute right to select his own Shadow Cabinet.

In a democratic centralist party like ours the process of debate would involve the entire membership. Then there would be a vote and the whole party would rally round and support the result. But respecting the majority view of their own membership — the very basis of any real democracy — is totally alien to the arrogant Blairites. If they cannot get their own way they go into a giant sulk and spread their bile throughout the media.

If they cannot respect majority decisions they have no business being in Parliament.

Corbyn’s changes to his Shadow Cabinet have been minimal. Maria Eagle has been moved from Defence to Culture and replaced by Emily Thornberry, who will support Corbyn on peace and defence issues.

Corbyn also sacked his Shadow Culture Secretary, Michael Dugher, and shadow Europe minister, Pat McFadden, for “incompetence and disloyalty”.

McFadden is being replaced by Pat Glass, who chairs Labour’s pro-EU group. Emma Lewell-Buck gets a promotion to Shadow Devolution Minister.

The promotion of Pat Glass signals some of the weaknesses of left wing social democracy. Corbyn, like the leadership of Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain, cannot grasp the fundamental capitalist class nature of the European Union. There is a mountain of work to be done in raising class awareness within the Labour movement in Britain.

But in Greece and Spain Syriza and Podemos were fostered and encouraged to counter the mass influence of the Greek KKE communist party and higher levels of class consciousness in Spain.

Corbyn has always been opposed tooth and nail by our ruling class; he replaces a seriously right-wing Labour leadership and has raised the level of general working class consciousness and morale here — so far.

Our party will continue to support him but not blindly. When it is necessary to criticise his actions we will speak out. Our priority is building the class consciousness, confidence and cohesion of the working class for the massive struggle that looms ahead.