In Brief

Resignations plunge Labour back into turmoil

Conor McGinn and Holly Lynch quit in protest at sacking of chief whip Dame Rosie Winterton

Labour was thrown back into turmoil yesterday when two party whips resigned in protest at Jeremy Corbyn's "revenge" reshuffle.

Conor McGinn and Holly Lynch are believed to have quit in protest at the sacking of Dame Rosie Winterton, Labour's chief whip, last week.

Three more whips - Alan Campbell, Vicky Foxcroft and Jeff Smith - are also considering their positions, says the Daily Telegraph.

The removal of Winterton, who has held the post since 2010 and is popular among her colleagues, has rekindled friction between the Labour leadership and MPs, just as the party was looking to move on from a divisive leadership battle.

According to the Telegraph, Winterton was "shocked" when Corbyn attempted to sack her by telephone "and suggested that he should explain his decision in person".

The former chief had previously been identified as "hostile" to the Labour leader on a leaked list of MPs compiled by Corbyn's allies, while he apparently "blamed her for trying to oust him" in a failed coup, says the Daily Mail.

Corbyn now "stands accused of abandoning plans to reunite the party", says Sky News, after a reshuffle that was seen as punishing dissenting voices and rewarding Corbyn's closest allies, with Diane Abbott promoted to shadow home secretary and Shami Chakrabarti given the role of shadow attorney general.

However, several party members say it is now time to look to the future. "It's his choice of team and I think we should get on with the job now," said MP John Mann. "He's won, whether people like it or not and the last thing we want, I think, is a year of internalised, inward-looking Labour navel-gazing."

Labour reshuffle: Corbyn rewards allies in new-look shadow cabinet

7 October

Jeremy Corbyn has reshuffled his shadow cabinet in the first major change since he was re-elected as leader.

Long-term ally Diane Abbott has been appointed shadow home secretary, the third and most senior cabinet position she has held since the Labour chief took power a year ago. Her promotion is seen as a sign Corbyn has "tightened his control over the party", The Guardian says.

Shami Chakrabarti, the former head of Liberty, was named shadow attorney general, just weeks after her appointment to the House of Lords as a Labour life peer.

Chakrabarti tabled a "controversial" report into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party in June and her appointment has been met with "fierce criticism from prominent Jews and Labour MPs", says the Daily Telegraph.

Newcastle East MP Nick Brown has been reinstated as chief whip for the third time, replacing Dame Rosie Winterton, who was popular with the Parliamentary Labour Party.

BBC political correspondent Iain Watson says Winteron was "seen as someone, behind the scenes, who stood up for MPs' interests against the party leader" and many Labour MPs are "expressing disappointment that she has gone".

Former director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer takes on the role of shadow Brexit secretary, while Clive Lewis has been moved from shadow defence minister to shadow business secretary, making way for Nia Griffith, whose thoughts on Trident are more in line with Corbyn's.

One "senior party source" told the BBC the reshuffle was "cack-handed and vindictive" and would further divide rather than unite the party.

The state of Labour: What next for the party?

29 September

As the dust settles after a dramatic Labour conference, attention is turning to whether the party can put a year of at times acrimonious infighting behind it - or whether the divisions evident in Liverpool are beyond repair.

"Labour now feels like two parties that don't like each other anymore but cannot afford to get divorced," says The Guardian's Andrew Sparrow, but while "little has been done to resolve some serious problems, the week has at least shown party members are capable of getting on".

He adds: "Superficially the divide is about policy, but much more it is about whether people are prepared to make an emotional investment in Corbyn's poll-defying idealism."

Jeremy Corbyn used his victory speech in the leadership contest to call for unity, "but the reality on the ground at the Labour conference has been anything but", says Michael Wilkinson in the Daily Telegraph.

The party chief has already been criticised by rebel MPs, just days after being re-elected with an increased mandate.

Two of the party's big beasts, deputy leader Tom Watson and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, used their conference speeches to stress the importance of winning power, statements interpreted as a veiled dig at Corbyn's idealistic policy platform.

After five days of talking to delegates, "it is astonishing how different their impressions of their leader are", says the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg.

Corbyn's supporters see him as "a leader who has changed the Labour Party, and now is on his way to changing the country", she says. His critics, however, the majority of MPs and long-standing party members, see a man "whose long standing principles are alien to most voters in the middle, where elections have been traditionally won".

Ultimately, "neither the Corbynites nor the rebels have control", says the New Statesman, and despite their man's landslide victory in the leadership election, the left's position remains "tenuous".

Labour's new socialism: 'Sketchy, mad and economically illiterate'

27 September

It appears Labour is preparing for an early general election – and its shadow chancellor has set out the party's most socialist economic policies for a generation to prepare for it.

However, both John McDonnell and his Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have "more work – a lot more work" – to do before they convince the public they can be trusted with the nation's finances again, says Larry Elliot in The Guardian.

McDonnell's keynote speech to the party conference in Liverpool was rapturously received by delegates – but the response from political and economic commentators has been almost universally sceptical.

Across all the papers, the shadow chancellor's plans have been called "sketchy", "mad" and "economically illiterate".

Key policy pledges included a minimum wage above £10 per hour, well above the £9 it will reach for over-25s by 2020 under current government policy, which is already deeply unpopular with businesses.

Bosses want minimum wages to be "pegged to typical pay growth, rather than cash targets", says the BBC's Kamal Ahmed.

The Tories' national living wage is targeted to reach 60 per cent of median earnings by the end of the decade.

A cash target of more than £10 per hour would mean businesses paying £23,000 for each employee, Ahmed adds.

Allister Heath in the Daily Telegraph says this would be "unbelievably cruel".

He adds: "At some level, pushing up the price of labour leads to a reduction in the demand for it, or at least for low-productivity workers. Labour would test this to destruction and force many low-skilled people out of the market."

Heath in general criticises Labour's new economics as "ruinous, backward-looking and economically illiterate".

Plans to allow workers to buy a company whenever it is put up for sale would "dramatically undermine the foundations of our economic system", he says, while a shift in taxation to target wealth would "undermine (and in extremis, destroy) the idea of private property".

Other proposals included increasing co-operative enterprise, repealing the Trade Union Act, boosting HMRC's tax avoidance prevention and pledging to spend £250bn on infrastructure.

McDonnell made "some good points" on the need to support those left behind by globalisation – a fact acknowledged even by some business trade groups, says Elliot in the Guardian.

But, he adds, promises of huge borrowing, raising taxes on middle-class asset owners and moving to a more "interventionist" economic stance were a "bit sketchy" and "did little to dispel the public's notion of Labour as the party of tax and spend".


Long Covid: the symptoms, the treatment and who is most at risk
A Covid patient is wheeled into hospital
Fact file

Long Covid: the symptoms, the treatment and who is most at risk

‘The Darling Hugs of May’
Today's newspaper front pages
Today’s newspapers

‘The Darling Hugs of May’

Fact check: does a pint a day really keep the doctor away?
binge drinking
In Depth

Fact check: does a pint a day really keep the doctor away?

Blair’s hair: Brad Pitt or Gandalf?
Tony Blair
In Brief

Blair’s hair: Brad Pitt or Gandalf?

Popular articles

Laurence Fox to Count Binface: the most colourful London mayor candidates
Count Binface
Behind the scenes

Laurence Fox to Count Binface: the most colourful London mayor candidates

TV crime dramas to watch in 2021
Chris Rock stars in the fourth series of Fargo
In Review

TV crime dramas to watch in 2021

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?
Night Tube Sadiq Khan
In Depth

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?