The Labour Party is heading for a showdown on Trident

The Labour Party is heading for a showdown on Trident

The Labour Party is heading for a showdown on Trident

AS RESHUFFLES go, Jeremy Corbyn’s tweaks to his shadow cabinet were relatively few. They were, however, momentous. In a marathon of meetings spanning three days (tired and hungry lobby journalists lurking in the corridors outside), the Labour Party’s leader cracked down on dissent, tightened his grip on the party and prepared the ground for an almighty battle on its stance on Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent.

He did so in four moves. First, he sacked Michael Dugher (above, second from left), the shadow culture secretary, apparently for comments critical of left-wing organisations close to the Labour leader and for warning—correctly, as it transpired—of an impending “revenge reshuffle”. Second, and in a similar vein, Mr Corbyn fired Pat McFadden, his capable and well-liked shadow Europe minister. Mr McFadden’s crime was to have invited the prime minister, during a debate following the Paris attacks in November, to stress that the blame did not lie with the West (highlighting, by contrast, the ambivalence of Mr Corbyn and his allies on the subject). By firing him, Labour’s leader made clear his intention to do battle on the territory of foreign and security policy, on which during his decades as a backbencher he was mostly at odds with his party.

This too was the thrust of his third move: to keep Hilary Benn, his shadow foreign secretary (above, far right), in place but clip his wings. Last month Mr Benn had spoken, unlike Mr Corbyn, for British military intervention against the Islamic State in Syria. He reportedly kept his job only by promising not to break from the leadership on such matters again. Finally, and most significantly, the Labour leader moved Maria Eagle (above, second from right) from defence to Mr Dugher’s former job, replacing her with Emily Thornberry (below)—a critic of Trident.

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