Last week Jeremy Corbyn yet again indulged his inner dictator by ruthlessly dispatching two fawns from his shadow cabinet and daubing their blood on the walls of his constituency office. Screaming maniacally at the media gathered outside his home, he waved his crown of ethically sourced toucan feathers to indicate his infallibility and urinated over a pentagram made of the bones of dead omnivores adorning his front garden to reassert his leadership credentials. He explained, while carrying aloft a half birch tree half dolphin hybrid he called ‘son’, that he was celebrating a successful reshuffle and wished to be left alone. If this sounds unfamiliar, it’s because it only happened in the minds and on the sketchpads of cartoonists holed up in the offices of The Sun, Express and Telegraph.
That slight mischaracterisation of Corbyn is more generous than the ones he received last week during the greatest ‘tragedy’ William Shakespeare never wrote. To me, Corbyn’s reshuffle sounds like a dance routine popularised by an eccentric octogenarian hailing from an unheard hamlet. Alas, the Labour leader’s cataclysmically inconsequential manoeuvrings were portrayed as a euphoric relinquishing of Britain to Herr Hitler and his invading ghost Nazis.
Shadow Attorney General Catherine McKinnell’s departure on Monday tore a new cavity in Corbyn’s battered armour, compounding festering divisions. Hostile to Blairite interests like McKinnell’s, he elicited accusations of weakness for having the temerity to sack ministers who didn’t like his policies. He was branded slow, rather than considered, for methodically working through a process he hadn’t experienced before. A traitor to his own mantra of newer, kinder politics, for wanting to keep his allies close. The Blairites are the hapless victims: clearly they’re being bullied. Strife stems from a leader intent on ripping his party apart. It’s all very transparent. You there at the back, the ‘coughing’ communist, cease belittling me immediately!
Vicious character assassinations are unsurprising yet continually mishandled by Corbyn’s team. From the outside it appears Momentum and stalwart Head of Communications Seumas Milne don’t want to indulge savage insults, but the lack of authoritativeness with which they deflect criticism, coupled with domestic rows, are weakening the leadership’s position. The tiff in a ball-pit featuring non-entities means the wider public is unlikely to flee to Gibraltar anytime soon, but it does, however, raise numerous worries about the damage the unsustainable shadow cabinet make-up is doing to Labour’s long term fortunes.
Corbyn sacrificed ideological purity for plurality when he packed his cabinet with names far closer to the politics of Ed Miliband and Tony Blair. Regretfully, his kind-heartedness is viewed as weakness by vipers itching to destroy his mandate. Allies and enemies know the situation is unsustainable: Labour is too diverse to continue as it is. If Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell insist Labour must stay that way, they’ll abandon socialism and the support of young people sick of MPs betraying their principles. Firstly, Corbyn must fill his cabinet with like-minded politicians if Labour is to have a cohesive message on disparate policies and cut off the supply of disputes to the Tory Press diverting attention away from his progressive policies. The illusion of unity, prevalent under Miliband’s tenure and extended unconvincingly by Corbyn, is melting away. The Labour leader must then make the party wholly socialist again to reflect the overwhelming stance of new members. Therefore, his ludicrous opposition to deselection must change so unrepresentative, clandestine Tories can be replaced with socialist MPs who’ll assist the drive towards a fairer Britain.
As the vote on bombing Syria showed, plurality of views and ideological purity are incompatible. To his supporters’ dismay, Corbyn has already sacrificed bold positions like withdrawal from NATO to maintain artificially harmonious relationships with red Tories who want to depose him. The Labour leader is a wonderful man, full of compassion and purpose, but he will continue to water down his policies and haemorrhage support if he pursues unsustainable plurality over the revolutionary ideas that won him the affection of millions within and without the party.
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