Labour shadow cabinet minister Michael Dugher criticises Jeremy Corbyn's plans to replace dissenting ministers

Michael Dugher says the plan would would not be 'very new politics'

Jon Stone
Wednesday 30 December 2015 17:04
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

A Labour shadow cabinet minister has criticised a reportedly planned New Year reshuffle of Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench team.

Michael Dugher, the shadow culture secretary, said moving MPs from the front bench because they disagreed Mr Corbyn on policy matters would be “not very new politics”.

Describing the plan as a “revenge reshuffle” he wrote in the New Statesman: "The sacking of Shadow Cabinet ministers who voted for intervention in Syria would betray the original promise of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.”

“I was also attracted by Jeremy’s call for a new, kinder politics. This would be one where there would be room for a little dissent and where the party, including the Shadow Cabinet, would have the confidence to have proper debates and discussions.

“What greater evidence of this than his decision that, despite his strong opposition to military action, there should be a free vote on Syria? And his insistence that all sides of the debate should respect one another’s different but sincerely held points of view.”

Mr Dugher himself is among names who it has been suggested could be moved from their post.

Michael Dugher, the shadow culture secretary

The reportedly planned top changes would see MPs critical of Mr Corbyn’s programme and leadership moved from his frontbench, to be replaced by MPs who support the party leader.

A number of shadow cabinet ministers have been privately briefing critical comments about the Labour leader to journalists and regular Monday evening meetings of the parliamentary Labour party have become a media spectacle with MPs hostile to the leadership texting unflattering accounts of proceedings to the media.

The Labour leader’s floated reshuffle is understood to possibly include Hilary Benn, the shadow foreign secretary, who led opposition to Mr Corbyn’s stance on Syria.

Sky News reports an anonymous Labour frontbencher as saying there would be a mass walk-out of ministers if Mr Benn were replaced, however. An anonymous Labour frontbencher told the Daily Telegraph that Mr Corbyn had “ruined Christmas” by briefing the reshuffle over the festive period.

Yesterday a Labour whip, Grahame Morris, appeared to endorse plans for a reshuffle.

Mr Morris shared a comment piece by a writer at the Independent with the headline: “This is what Jeremy Corbyn should do in 2016 – starting with a reshuffle that gets rid of mutineers”.

He later deleted the tweet, however.

Mr Corbyn was elected as Labour leader by a landslide of members, supporters, and affiliated trade unionists.

He however faces significant opposition from MPs on the centre and right wings of the Labour party, who supported other candidates for the leadership.

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