Grahame Morris, one of the Labour party’s whips, has called for his leader Jeremy Corbyn to get rid of the “mutineers” in the Shadow Cabinet.
Morris said that there needs to be a reshuffle next year, tweeting a link to an article in The Independent that criticised Corbyn for appointing shadow ministers from “across the spectrum of opinion” in the Labour party.
Over the past week, there have been multiple media reports, including The Telegraph and The Daily Mail, that Corbyn is planning to sack “moderate” MPs from his shadow cabinet and replace them with MPs who share more of his left-wing ideals. The Independent says that Shadow Defence Secretary Angela Eagle will lose her position because of her support of the Trident nuclear weapons system and Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn could be replaced by long time Corbyn ally Diane Abbott.
Corbyn had a hard time finding people to fill up the positions in his Shadow Cabinet when he became Labour’s leader because there were very few people who both had the experience necessary and backed him politically. He ended up making compromises and appointed people who he disagreed with on substantive issues. This has come back to bite him.
Corbyn was forced to sit with his arms folded and watch as his Defence Secretary Hilary Benn gave a speech in Parliament calling for the RAF to extend their airstrikes against ISIS into Syria — the exact opposite of what Corbyn wanted to happen. Conservative Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, said that Benn’s speech will “go down as one of the truly great speeches heard in this place.”
It is the whips job to make sure that MPs vote in accordance with their party’s policies, so it’s unsurprising that Morris would want to have ministers who disagree with party policy to be removed from office. However, Morris himself has a long record of voting against the party whip.
Just take a look at this list of the number of times he has rebelled.
In a sign that an internal disagreement within the Labour party over a potential cabinet reshuffle is about to spill out into the open, Labour MP Ian Austin tweeted back at Morris, reminding him of his voting record.
Corbyn and his supporters are always going to run into this problem when they complain about lack of discipline in the party. All of them have records of voting against their party whip, including Corbyn himself.
The sense that the Labour leadership is holding something back was increased by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s interview on BBC radio 4’s Today Programme when he refused to say that Benn would keep his job. If Benn or others do go, we should expect the war of words between Labour’s internal factions to increase significantly.