One of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest allies has been called a “sell out” after criticising the MPs who resigned over Labour’s shadow cabinet reshuffle.
Speaking on Wednesday to the BBC’s Newsnight, Diane Abbott, shadow secretary of state for international development, accused Labour MPs who quit following the shadow cabinet reshuffle of being former special advisers (SpAds) who “came up under a certain system.”
In effect, she was accusing them of being career politicians — people who don’t have life experience outside of politics.
You can watch what she said below.
When you look at some of the other people, when you look at Jonathan Reynolds, if you look at Mr Dugher, if you look at some of these others, what do they have in common? They’re all former Special Advisers. And what you’re seeing is people who came up under a certain system. You did politics at university, you became a special adviser, you became an MP, you became a minister, who are rightfully upset, because Jeremy has brought a whole lot of new energy and new people into politics.
Reynolds hit back at the claim he was a SpAd, telling Abbott that she should Google him before “slagging” him off.
He then called Abbott a “total sell-out,” and attacked her for sending her son to a £10,000-a-year private school.
Doughty told Abbott that what she said was “nonsense”
One of the reasons that Reynolds and Doughty were so offended is that they are MPs from the North who are considered to be “working class“, making them a rarity in Labour. Abbott, on the other hand, is a north London politician who was a press officer for former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, head of PR at Lambeth Council, and a Labour councillor before she became an MP.
The other reason is Reynolds and Doughty were annoyed is that Abbott used to have a second job as a pundit on the BBC’s This Week programme where she regularly criticised her own party; this makes her widely unpopular with some MPs who also resent her influence with Corbyn. This attitude towards her can be summed up by this tweet from Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop.
Abbott is also perceived by some Labour MPs as being an incompetent media operator and they are getting increasingly frustrated she is getting so much air time — as this retweet from Labour MP John Spellar shows.
Some Labour MPs are particularly unhappy that Corbyn’s cabinet is losing Northern and working class MPs and gaining London MPs whom they consider to be from a liberal elite. Reynolds himself has warned that Labour is becoming “too London centric,” telling The Independent that the shadow cabinet is geographically unbalanced.
You need to make sure you’re balancing not just politics but gender, geography, to make sure you’re getting that balanced so the nation looks at Labour and says ‘these people understand my life and they are the right people for me; I want them to be the government for the country.’
After Abbott’s appearance on Newsnight, Labour MP Graham Jones tweeted that he had tried to bring up the issues of the lack of working class MPs with Abbott.
He then tweeted that Corbyn had replaced the sacked working class Michael Dugher with a “liberal Islington millionaire — a reference to new shadow culture secretary Emily Thornberry. Jones deleted the tweet a minute after sending it.
The way Labour MPs are openly criticising each other shows that there is more fallout from Corbyn’s shadow cabinet reshuffle to come. Before the reshuffle there was a widely held attitude within Labour that they needed to try and make the best of things with Corbyn. By sacking popular MPs like Dugher, Corbyn has opened up a divide that he will find hard to bridge.
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