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6 January 2016updated 07 Jan 2016 11:23am

Benn stays, Dugher out, Thornberry in: the latest on Corbyn’s reshuffle and its fallout

All the updates as Jeremy Corbyn reshuffles his shadow cabinet.

By Stephen Bush

Welcome to the NS’ reshuffle liveblog

19:43: While the reshuffle hasn’t gone smoothly – ultimately at the end of it all Corbyn will be in a good place. He’s better postioned to get his policies through – and that later resignations, if they come, will be shrugged off, only highlights the strength of his position. We’re signing off now – thanks for al your emails and tweets. Join us again on 30 January for our living history liveblog – this time it’s the 1983 election. Have a good evening!

19:26: In fact, here’s an interesting* question. Is this, in fact, the same reshuffle? Arguably, the first reshuffle, designed to produce a more “coherent” top team has already happened. You could argue that the resignations of Jones, Reynolds and Doughty have triggered a brand new reshuffle just minutes after the old one. 

*Your mileage may vary.

19:23: The expectation is that there may be more resignations from the frontbenches but none that will seriously worry the Labour leadership.  

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19:14: Kevan Jones, one of the three frontbenchers to quit says this on Twitter:

Unlike Jones, I do have a connection to Progress – I wrote a weekly blog of variable quality for them from 2012 until 2014, and am a contributing editor to their magazine.

I’m not too fussed about McDonnell’s remarks. Progress chair Alison McGovern, however, is less than thrilled:

19:08: Stephen here – sorry about the period of radio silence. While I’ve been away, nothing much has happened in the reshuffle, which is now trundling into Hour 53. Just two away from Britney!

But a row has broken out after John McDonnell said that those resigning are “from a narrow right wing clique within the Labour Party, based around the organisation Progress largely. I don’t think they’ve ever accepted Jeremy’s mandate really.” 

Asked about the remarks on Channel 4, McDonnell had this to say:

“There’s a group within the Labour Party who have a right wing conservative agenda. Within Progress itself, there are some who are quite hard right, and I think they’ve never accepted Jeremy’s leadership.”

16:10: Why is this taking so long? That’s the question many of you are asking via email. I’m asking it myself in truth. Well, the original delay was the result of negotiation between Benn and Corbyn over the conditions of Benn remaining in place. 

That was all done and dustedd but the appointment of Thornberry at shadow defence triggered a resignation from shadow defence minister Kevan Jones, while two frontbenchers have quit over the sacking of Pat McFadden. All that’s conspired to take the reshuffle into Hour 48.

16:05: Lisa Nandy will remain as shadow DECC despite her remarks on the Daily Politics. (See 14:31.)

15:59: Stephen here. It’s not just journalists who have to Google new appointments occasionally – I’m told that over in Brussels, the European parliamentary Labour party had to Google “Pat Glass” to find out who she was.

14.58: This reshuffle may appear to be a shambolic process, but Corbyn has tweaked his team to his advantage. As George writes in his column, out in tomorrow’s magazine, it reveals Corbyn’s “determination to hold power”:

“For Corbyn, who took office with unprecedentedly low support among MPs, the priority is to consolidate his control. Senior Labour figures express fury that the Tories have extended their advantage despite the floods debacle and the EU schism. But they realise that their rage is futile. Corbyn’s hegemony among members is undiminished after the exodus of tens of thousands of opponents. For both principled and political reasons, he is enacting the anti-war, anti-Trident mandate that his supporters gave him.”

14.46: Not that anyone cares, but Corbyn gave PMQs a fairly good go today, considering the circumstances. George gave his verdict earlier, writing that the Labour leader had “plenty of ammunition” about the floods, but never quite managed to break through the PM’s mockery of Labour’s strife.

A shame, as it wasn’t Cameron’s best showing. Aside from a series of bizarre Shakespeare-based jokes, he made some pretty embarrassing blunders. For one, he boasted that inequality is up under his government, an assertion merrily tweeted by the Tory press office:

Cameron also appears to be the only person in Westminster currently envisaging a Labour government…

14.31: Here’s where we’re at in terms of fallout. A couple of junior ministers (Jonathan Reynolds and Stephen Doughty) have resigned over the reason for McFadden’s sacking – his comments in the chamber against apologism for those who carried out the Paris attacks. And we’ve also seen Kevan Jones, who has served as shadow armed forces minister for six years, resign due to Emily Thornberry – who is against Trident renewal – being hired as shadow defence secretary.

So what happens next? Could others resign who have come out in defence of McFadden’s comments, such as shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy, who told the Daily Politics earlier “I don’t know why Pat was sacked . . . I agree with what he said”? And there are rumours that other shadow defence team members may go the same way as Jones, and resign in protest at Thornberry’s appointment. 

14.08: Anoosh again. If Jones hadn’t made himself clear enough, he has now. He just told Sky News that Thornberry “knows nothing about defence”.

13:31: Maria Eagle has paid tribute to her former junior, Kevan Jones:

13:24: Where now? John Denham, a Secretary of State in the last Labour government, writes for the Staggers on where Labour should go next:

The other route is to recognise that no one would have chosen to be here, but we have to make the best of it. A fight to the death will simply mean that we all die together. There is no reason to assume Labour will always bounce back; not when the social and economic conditions that created mass labour parties are disappearing right across Western Europe. Good will and hard work, could produce a Party more radical than in recent years, and a party in which most of the PLP and the membership can be comfortable.

13:17: I must admit, I am fairly baffled as to why you would brief this. Why not just accuse him of stealing paperclips, or talk about the Celtic tweet or his warninga against a revenge reshuffle? Why describe the Paris attacks speech as a contributory factor? The chutzpah of doing that after firing Dugher for “incompetence” is something to behold. 

13:00: Jeremy Corbyn’s aides have confirmed that McFadden’s Paris remarks led to his sacking.

Here they are for those of you who haven’t seen them yet.

Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton South East) (Lab): May I ask the Prime Minister to reject the view that sees terrorist acts as always being a response or a reaction to what we in the west do? Does he agree that such an approach risks infantilising the terrorists and treating them like children, when the truth is that they are adults who are entirely responsible for what they do? No one forces them to kill innocent people in Paris or Beirut. Unless we are clear about that, we will fail even to understand the threat we face, let alone confront it and ultimately overcome it.

12:43: Jones is quitting over Trident, unsurprisingly. 

12:40: Kevan Jones – who tussled with Ken Livingstone over the nuclear deterrent – has resigned from the frontbench. 

12:26: The story so far. Dugher sacked, McFadden sacked, Thornberry in at Defence, Maria Eagle moved to Culture. Two frontbenchers have resigned as a result of the McFadden sacking, and there may be more to come. 

12:22: We are now into Hour 46. It now feels very probable that the reshuffle will hit the Britney Spears marriage mark of 55 hours. 

12:09: Here’s Stephen Doughty’s resignation clip in full.

12:03: A Labour source tells the Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow that McFadden’s Paris attacks speech was just one item on the “charge sheet” against him. At PMQs, Cameron is making hay with the quote. (Why not just mention the other, non-politically destructive items on the charge sheet? Has Corbyn hired Joey from Friends as an adviser?)

11:58: Stephen Doughty, a shadow minister at the Foreign Office has just resigned live on the Daily Politics over the sacking of McFadden. Hilary Benn be coming back to work like:

11:51: Torcuil Critchton suggests that the entire defense team (Toby Perkins, Kevan Jones and Raechel Maskell) could quit over the reshuffle. If Maskell goes, that really would be something of a shock – she’s considered politically closer to Corbyn than either of her ministerial colleagues. 

11:45: A Brussels source points out that the tributes to McFadden are all coming from one quarter – London. Among MEPs, he was less respected, they say. 

11:41: Right, Stephen here. Kevan Jones and Stephen Doughty may also resign over the sacking of McFadden, Comrade George reports. So this reshuffle ain’t over yet. 

11.25: Bored of all the who’s ins and who’s outs? Want to know what this all means? Read my colleague and professional jaded liveblogger Stephen’s analysis of Corbyn’s reshuffle here. Although the reshuffle’s been characterised as a bit of a protracted mess, Stephen’s right in saying that Corbyn’s done well – he has achieved what he wanted, particularly regarding Trident:

“Corbyn ended up with a bigger prize in the end, in the shape of the Defence brief. Maria Eagle remains in the shadow cabinet but at Culture, while, for the first time since 1988, the Defence brief is held by a unilateralist in the shape of Emily Thornberry.”

11.04: Meanwhile, there is party division over a muzzle. And no, it’s not because Labour’s gone to the dogs. Benn, The Boy Who Lived, insisted to reporters this morning that “I haven’t been muzzled”. This was after a convoluted explanation on the BBC’s Today programme this morning by shadow chancellor John McDonnell of Benn’s new discipline deal. “When it comes down to a future debate, we won’t have a situation where he will be speaking from the frontbench when there’s a major disagreement on policy,” he said. But what about free votes? And what about his conscience? And what about everyone knowing his former opinions? Etc etc.

10.59: Obviously, it can’t be over yet with one junior minister resigning and other resignations afoot. But this is still a chilling tweet:

10.40: Apparently more frontbench resignations may well be on the way. Whereas, according to a Westminster source, the PLP accepts that Dugher sacrificed himself so that other “more important” critics of Corbyn (such as Benn) could remain in the shadow cabinet, there is genuine anger at McFadden’s sacking.

6/1/16 10.25: Anoosh here. And the fallout on the morning after the night (or earlier morning) before begins! The shadow rail minister Jonathan Reynolds has resigned from the frontbench. In his letter, he backs McFadden’s condemnation of “those who would to any degree absolve Isis”, and writes that he cannot “in good conscience endorse the world view of the Stop the War Coalition” – the group Corbyn chaired until September 2015.

Here’s his resignation letter:

Photo: Twitter

00:46: So, 34 hours, and what’s happened? Michael Dugher is sacked from the shadow cabinet  – Maria Eagle replaces him as shadow culture secretary,  Emily Thornberry comes from the frontbench to replace her as shadow defence secretary, while Pat McFadden is sacked from the frontbench. He is replaced by Pat Glass, while Emma Lewell-Buck comes into replace Thornberry. Longer than the Star Wars, Alien, or Terminator franchises but not quite two full series of 24. Thank you very much for your emails and tweets – sorry about the questions we didn’t have time to answer. For those wondering, I had yet more pesto for dinner. Some minor changes in junior roles are still to come.

Goodnight. If you enjoyed this, please join me for our next living history liveblog on 30 January: this time we’ll be doing the 1983 election! 

00:44: That ‘agreeing with Jeremy’ thing seems to be working well.

00:38: If you include the various posts like shadow minister for voter registration and young people, the shadow cabinet has 17 women and 14 men. I personally think the shadow cabinet is the positions that actually have portfolios in government but others may consider that gauche.  On that metric, Labour is stuck on its Miliband era ‘high’ point – one woman away. Better luck next time, I guess. 

00:35: It’s been suggested that this tweet may have contributed to the sacking:

McFadden, like Reid, is a fan of Celtic Football Club and the Labour government of 1997 to 2007. 

00:31: Labour don’t seem to be denying that McFadden’s Paris attacks speech was why he was sacked. A bold move. 

00:24: I’m reminded of Ed Miliband’s 2011 reshuffle, when interventions from Caroline Flint and others saved Liam Byrne’s bacon – two years later, Miliband sacked him. The threat of resignations protected Benn this time but Corbyn got the bigger prize – not only is the defence brief in the hands of a unilateralist but the defence review is now being led by Livingstone and Thornberry, both of whom favour scrapping Trident. In terms of the internal politics, it’s a good day for Corbyn.

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But the McFadden sacking – and more importantly, the reason given, rather than his vote against airstrikes – may well haunt Labour at the polls and at PMQs, but if it drives a few more Corbyn sceptics out of the Labour party then that’s all to the good. All in all, a very successful reshuffle for Corbyn. 

00:22: Bennd and gagged. There, you can have that pun for free.  

00:12: Hour 34 is just minutes away – and the top four jobs are still all held by white men. In Corbyn’s defence, he was stuck with them really – if he’d moved Benn there would have been mass resignations (and they could be if Benn does indeed go tomorrow), he couldn’t move Burnham for similar reasons, and McDonnell is integral to the project just as Brown was to Blair and Osborne is to Cameron. But still, not a great look for Britain’s largest leftwing party. 

00:12: Team Corbyn briefs that Dugher sacked for “incompetence”. 

00:08: Those few, those happy few, that waited in the stairwell on St Corbyn’s Day.

00:05: Hilary Benn lives to fight again. (Which unfortunately rhymes) 

00:02: Emily Thornberry is shadow defence secretary. Maria Eagle is now a Culture Vulture aka shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport. The reshuffle is coming to a close just shy of Hour 34. Only a few updates left. 

23:59: Trouble at t’mill.

23:55: A thought – a lot of lazy commentary describes most of Corbyn’s opponents as “Blairites”, which of course is simply inaccurate. (Some particularly bad work describes Tom Watson, the man who helped topple Blair, as a Blairite). But the reality is that the Blairites were finished as a serious force after Miliband’s 2013 reshuffle when Stephen Twigg and Liam Byrne were sacked and Jim Murphy demoted.  Unlike Hilary Benn, partly secure because of his allies insisted they would resign if he was pushed, McFadden, an actual Blairite, has no allies left at the top of the Labour party. No surprise that Lord Falconer is also tipped for the chop.  

23:53: Okay, perhaps not. And we’re approaching Hour 34. 

23:52: It’s nearly over.

23:49: A Labour staffer quotes Lear: The worst is not So long as we can say ‘This is the worst.'”

23:46: This is what McFadden said during the Commons debate on the Paris attacks, reportedly the reason for his sacking.

Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton South East) (Lab): May I ask the Prime Minister to reject the view that sees terrorist acts as always being a response or a reaction to what we in the west do? Does he agree that such an approach risks infantilising the terrorists and treating them like children, when the truth is that they are adults who are entirely responsible for what they do? No one forces them to kill innocent people in Paris or Beirut. Unless we are clear about that, we will fail even to understand the threat we face, let alone confront it and ultimately overcome it.

23:43: Looks like it’s nearly the end, folks.

23:41: More on McFadden.

I’ll dig out the speech pronto. 

23:38: I could kiss this Corbyn aide right on the mouth.

23:34: It’s a real shame in that McFadden was one of Labour’s most articulate advocates for staying in the EU – but, as I’ve said repeatedly tonight and this morning and last night and (you get the drift) even in a free vote, not unreasonable to expect the leader to want ministers to agree with him in that policy area. Still, it’s a blow to Labour In. 

23:29: NEWS!!! Pat McFadden has been “fired”, an aide to Jeremy Corbyn tells our man in the stairwell, George Eaton:

While McFadden didn’t brief against the leader in the manner of Dugher he did vote against him in the free vote and gave a speech that was sharply critical of Corbyn’s stance. He is replaced by Pat Glass, the MP for North West Durham (she’s a female Pat, FYI.) 

23:25: Last night Team Corbyn gave us the all-clear when it became clear there was no news. I assume that as that hasn’t happened yet that we may, in fact, have news soon.

23:21: Mossy Fern (perhaps not his real name, but who am I to judge?) asks: Do we think that a Corbyn-Benn leader-foreign secretary combo can work together and win an election? It doesn’t seem likely to me.  I think it’s perfectly reasonable for Corbyn to move him – less so to act as if voting the other way in a free vote is a betrayal (not least because Corbyn called for all votes on war to be free votes as recently as 2013). But the reality is when free votes on the death penalty have come up, Home Secretaries and shadow home secretaries haven’t lasted long if they’ve voted the other way. 

But of course the problem is that much of the Shadow Cabinet regard it as totemic, not so much because of the vote but because of the way the vote was handled – they feel, fairly or unfairly, that Corbyn tried to bully his way into it while Benn was more collegiate. 

23:15: Hour 33! This reshuffle has now gone on longer than the combined playtimes of the entire back catalogues of Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs and the Libertines. 

23:11: John Healey, what a gent.

23:00: Back to betting. Frederick Kirby asks what we (I think George is still around somewhere but he may well have fallen asleep in that stairwell of his, I’ll check) think of putting a cheeky fiver on Jess Philips, who has said she would “consider” running, a long time in the future. My sense of where Labour is at is that four things could happen over the next five years, in reverse order of likelihood: 1) Corbyn will step down due to ill-health 2) Corbyn will win and become PM 3) Corbyn will lose and his replacement will be a Corbynite, like Clive Lewis or Richard Burgon, 4) Corbyn will lose and his replacement will be the least Corbynite loyal member of the Shadow Cabinet, ie, it will be a contest between Heidi Alexander, Jon Ashworth, Gloria De Piero, or Owen Smith. 

I don’t think it is Philips’ time yet – but I’m frequently wrong, so who knows? 

22:51: And the reshuffle slowly crawls to Hour 33, enough to watch the first two seasons of The West Wing, ie, the only two that are any good. 

22:45: Joe Moore asks if Eagle could go to the Europe post if Pat McFadden does end up getting the push. I doubt it – it would be a demotion to go from a Secretary of State position to the frontbench and at 54 she’s unlikely to see it as a good move (better off taking the longshot on an anti-Corbyn counter-revolution pre-2020). One issue around staff is that the Conservatives’ cut in short money means that Labour will have to shed staff which means that some junior frontbenchers will have to share staff – so the “stay to save your employees” motive is weaker. 

I still think the best thing to do would be to give Bryant the DCMS brief back, put Eagle in at leader of the house, and then give defence to Thornberry. But hey, if Corbyn listened to me, Seumas Milne would be doing this liveblog and I’d be earning the big bucks in Norman Shaw South. 

22:43: Thornberry update.

22:40: Although….it may be that Corbyn feels that the #JeSuisMichaelDugher antics earlier mean he needs to get his revenge on. (Almost all the shadow cabinet tweeted their sympathy to the defenestrated Dugher.) 

22:36: The expectation is still that we will get a frontbench this evening, if nothing else to avoid handing Cameron a stick to beat Labour with tomorrow. 

22:15: For those of you just joining us, welcome! It’s just gone quarter past ten. We’re into Hour 32 of Jeremy Corbyn’s second reshuffle. Hilary Benn had a long meeting with Jeremy Corbyn yesterday and spoke as shadow foreign secretary in the House of Commons today – so we assume he’s safe. Reports are that as many as 10 shadow cabinet ministers have threatened to resign should Benn be axed. But no such protection has been extended to Michael Dugher, formerly the shadow secretary of state for culture, who has been given the chop, apparently for an article he wrote for the Staggers (read it here). Lord Falconer, the last genuine Blairite in the shadow cabinet, is rumoured to be on the way out, as is the shadow cabinet’s other Blairite, Pat McFadden, the Europe minister. Emily Thornberry is tipped for the shadow defence position – she’s meeting with Corbyn now. And no-one is sure what’s going on with Maria Eagle, who had a meeting with Corbyn yesterday, left with a face like thunder, and hasn’t been seen since. 

Tomorrow, Jeremy Corbyn faces David Cameron for the first PMQs of 2016. Will there be a shadow cabinet by then? Only time will tell. The reshuffle has now lasted longer than the total play time of the entire Arctic Monkeys back catalogue.  

22:11: “The past is like an onion sandwich,” Julian Barnes once wrote,” It burps. It repeats.”

22:06: And depending on how things go between those staffers I mentioned at 19:15, one person may even have been concieved. 

21:51: I’ve found a meme that irritates me more than the “Oh, how could Corbyn sack Michael Dugher?” one: does it matter how long the reshuffle goes? 

It’s a head-scratcher: does it matter that whatever question Corbyn asks David Cameron, or whatever whoever stands up in the interim asks his ministers, he can reply “Mate, you’re such a shambles you don’t even have a frontbench!”. I don’t know, does it?

It probably matters a little bit. Just a hunch I have. 

21:46: Sunder Katwala asks if the longer reshuffle is partly due to the unique circumstances of Corbyn’s leadership – no leader of a major party has ever been elected with the support of so few of his MPs. He asks if Lansbury was any good at reshuffling. Lansbury had a rather different challenge – he inherited a parliamentary Labour party with just 52 MPs (insert predictable joke about Corbyn’s electability here) – so his frontbench was drawn from rather thin resources. Lansbury’s problem wasn’t in his Cabinet but from the unions, who opposed his pacifism. Although only Matt Wrack of the firefighters and Dave Ward of the CWU are genuinely sympathetic to Corbynism, modern-day trade union leaders have less power within the party and are therefore unable to move Corbyn, at least at the moment.  

Also, remember that Ed Miliband was the first Labour leader to have to conduct reshuffles in Opposition – until he changed the rules, the PLP elected the Shadow Cabinet. 

21:40: I’ve been liveblogging too long. I thought Aston Villa striker Chris Benteke had been made a peer:

21:35: One from the archives: here’s what I wrote in the Telegraph‘s Morning Briefing the day of Thornberry’s sacking:

Good morning. Mark Reckless has won in Rochester & Strood. The numbers, in case you haven’t seen them, are:

Mark Reckless (Ukip) 16,867 (42%)
Kelly Tolhurst (Conservatives) 13,947 (35%)
Naushabah Khan (Labour) 6,713 (17%)

Mr Reckless 2920 majority is well within the whips’ expectation, and an outbreak of panic is likely to be limited. That our poll-of-polls shows the Conservatives drawing level for the first term highlights that the bigger threat – Labour – is still beatable. For the whips, I’m told that the bigger concern is not further defections but more first-term retirements ala Dan Byles (majority of 54) or Jonathan Evans (majority of 164) who don’t fancy their chances thanks to the Ukip surge.

All in all Mark Reckless’ victory looks likely to lack the impact of Douglas Carswell’s triumph, but sequels often lack the oomph of the original. In any case, it’s Labour’s own low-budget remake – “Mrs Duffy 2: Tweet in Haste” that is attracting the attention.

Emily Thornberry, Labour’s shadow Attorney General, has resigned after tweeting a picture of a house with a white van and three England flags outside with the caption “Image from Rochester”. “It insults people like me, the people I know, friends and family” was Labour MP John Mann’s response on Today. Ed Miliband was “angrier than he’s ever been” say Labour sources. I repeat: it was a picture of a house with the caption “Image from Rochester”. 

To my eyes, the tweet looks inoffensive when seen in the context of Ms Thornberry’s habit of tweeting pictures that are wholly ordinary in a tone of wide-eyed astonishment – “All women, all in black and red!” is a recent example – and I’m inclined to agree with Tim Stanley’s verdict that the sacking, rather than the offence, gives off the impression that Labour is a party dominated by middle-class liberals who are cross at being found out. (For the counter argument, Anne Perkins writes in the Guardian, calling it “the most devastating message Labour has managed to deliver in the past four years”.)

As one Conservative pointed out last night, this is the consequence of the “gotcha politics” that Labour played over Lord Freud, something that was echoed on the Labour side: “If you make your whole argument against the government all about how they are supposedly out of touch it ramps up the need of your own side to always be in touch to such an extent that something as objectively small as this becomes a resigning issue”.

It’s worth stopping and thinking about the party that has just doubled its parliamentary representation. It was Mark Reckless who earlier this week suggested that Eastern Europeans could be repatriated, something that Nigel Farage described as “a minor issue”. It’s Ukip that sits with the far-right KNP in Brussels and Ukip activists who posed with the hard-right Britain First. It’s the Ukip leader who told LBC that “you know what the difference is” when asked about Romanians, rather than Germans, moving next door and when asked about the quality level of immigrants talked about HIV. Mr Reckless is now an MP and Mr Farage is likely to join him in May. Ms Thornberry’s frontline career is over. It may be that our sense of offence is somewhat out of joint.

21:29: Not everyone will be happy to see the return of Emily Thornberry: 

But the appointment makes sense: she’s a unilateralist like Corbyn but not as disliked by other members of the shadow cabinet as Diane Abbott, and like Abbott, knows her way around a television studio. Would be a good move.

21:24: I searched for pictures of Emily Thornberry in our image archive and all I found were pictures of a Labour Prime Minister on the campaign trail with her and now I feel old and sad. Here’s the picture, so you can feel old and sad too:

21:20: Emily Thornberry in the house! Comrade George has the details:

21:16: There has been some pushback at my “longest reshuffle since 1929” talk. What about 2010, when coalition talks stretched for five days, ask many* of you via email. It depends on your perspective – I’d argue that as there was a third participant in those coalition talks at first, they didn’t start until the coalition agreement was signed, but your mileage may vary. 

*alright, three**


21:13: I laughed until I cried. No, wait, I’m just crying. 

21:11: When Cameron was in opposition, all the special advisers were recruited and controlled by CCHQ – something that David Miliband contemplated had he won the leadership election in 2010 and Corbyn was rumoured to be considering early doors. But for Labour, it’s different. 

21:08: Morgan Griffiths asked what I meant about sacking staff – Labour’s parliamentary advisers are picked by their shadow minister and their contracts expire when their bosses do (metaphorically or literally). So there are real consequences, often for people that MPs have worked for for some time. 

21:00: I’m hearing that Pat McFadden, the shadow Europe minister, may be under threat. If he and Falconer go, it means that there will be no genuine “Blairites” left on the Opposition frontbench, I believe. (Falconer was Blair’s former flatmate, while McFadden worked in Blair’s Downing Street). It will be a blow to the Labour In campaign, who regard McFadden as a strong asset. Or perhaps a boost as he’ll have even more time for the referendum, your mile may vary. 

20:48: Rowena Mason reports in the Guardian liveblog that 10 ministers are threatening to walk if Benn is ousted. I heard seven earlier, and someone else had eight in an article I cannot find. I personally am always dubious about these mass walkout threats, particularly as MPs tend to feel guilty about having to sack their staff, but you never know. 

20:44: George means there will be a replacement – but according to Dugher, he was sacked because Corbyn didn’t like his recent article for the Staggers. So it could be that a second, planned sacking is on the way. 

20:40: Not sure if George means there will be a new post (a minister without portfolio for someone?) or a new member replacing Dugher. It seems likely he means the former – have sent him a text, more as we get it.

20:34: George has details from the stairwell:

20:31: I hope Thornberry does get a return to the shadow cabinet in this reshuffle – while she may not be everyone’s cup of tea she’s good at telly (I think) and was treated very shabbily by a leader she had shown a lot of loyalty to.

20:28: A shadow defence secretary, my kingdom for a shadow defence secretary.

20:12: Corbyn has returned to his office with a takeaway. I hear he’s ordering Michael Dugher’s career to go.

(Too soon?)

20:01: I don’t believe for a minute that if you’re Lord Falconer and you’ve been sacked you wouldn’t just pick up a phone and slag off the Corbmeister. What have you to lose? He can’t take away your peerage. 

19:58: I’m starting to be won over by Team Corbyn. Say what you like about their ability to manage the news cycle, they’ve got terrific style and appreciate the importance of regular meals. 

19:54: My guess? When the dust settles, the only big move will be Dugher’s sacking. It seems implausible to me that Maria Eagle would have kept for this long if she’d been sacked – but I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up at a different portfolio.

19:49: Tom Watson and Rosie Winterton have arrived at the leaders’ office. Corbyn can’t sack Watson, so one assumes the reshuffle is entering its final phase.

19:40: The BBC have tracked down Lord Falconer:

19:37: So I’ve done the numbers – and the longest shuffer is the Earl of Derby, who took over a month to form a government following the collapse of the first Russell ministry at the end of 1851. Derby’s government lasted just four months, before being displaced by a coalition of Peelites, radicals and Whigs that would go on to form the Liberal party. 

19:20: A lot of you are emailing asking if this is the longest reshuffle in history. Afraid not, and Corbyn would have to carry on for quite some time to be within a shot – 19th century communication meant that government formation took weeks to complete, as did the results of elections. He is, however, comfortably the longest shuffler in the era of universal suffrage (1929 onwards – the first election in which men and women had equal voting rights). 

19:17: News of Lord Falconer – apparently he is still in the Carribean. I wish I was in the Carribean. 

19:15: A rumour has reached me that two Labour staffers have hooked up during this reshuffle. I hope they get married, that’d be a great story to tell the grandkids. 

Of course, they may have to explain what the Labour party *was*, first. 

19:10: Good news! Well-placed sources believe that Corbyn will complete his reshuffle tonight. 

19:06: Labour First – the Labour ginger grouping associated with the party’s old right – have sent a message out on their mailing list about the reshuffle. They’re not happy. 

“Hope you have had a good break over the Christmas period and wish you a Happy New Year! Let’s hope 2016 is a better year for Labour than 2015, which must rival 1931 as one of the worst in our history.

All of us were hoping that the New Year would mean Labour refocused on party unity and preparing for the electoral challenges we face in the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, London Mayor and Assembly, local government and police commissioner elections. Instead, the Hard Left clique around Jeremy Corbyn has thrown us into a sectarian, divisive and wholly unnecessary reshuffle.

We are disgusted by the sacking of Michael Dugher from the Shadow Cabinet and proud that Michael will be keynote speaker at the Labour First Annual Meeting on 16 January.

Michael was an excellent Shadow Culture Secretary and one of the most effective Labour spokespeople in taking the fight to the Tories.

He agreed to serve in the Shadow Cabinet in the interests of party unity. His sacking by Mr Corbyn seems to be for the “crime” of speaking out against the pernicious influence of Momentum and defending hard-working colleagues from threats of deselection.”

18:55: The Morning Star’s take on the reshuffle that never ends:

18:52: There’s a massive double standard here from some of Corbyn’s critics: they didn’t like his new approach to politics and they don’t like his attempt to return to the old one either. (There’s a double standard from some folk who are applauding a reshuffle which is mainly about fixing the self-inflicted wounds of the one three months ago, too, of course, but we’ve got a lot of hours to fill and I can only alienate half my traffic at any one time.) 

18:40: Michael Crick has the inside track on what’s going on betwixt Hils and Jez:

Seems…perfectly reasonable. 

18:36: Sorry about the radio silence – I couldn’t get a signal on my bus home for love nor money. Fortunately, nothing in particular has happened. 

17:32: For those of you just joining us: Michael Dugher has been sacked as shadow culture secretary (Some say he “Dugh his own grave” with his colourful assessments of the political situation). Maria Eagle has vanished from the public eye and it looks as if she has been moved from shadow defence – but whether that’s to the backbenches or another job, we simply don’t know. And Nia Griffith and Lisa Nandy are both reported to have turned down the shadow defence job, though Nandy says that’s not true.

Elsewhere, Lord Falconer, who was rumoured to have been sacked yesterday, is also nowhere to be seen. It’s a bad day for ministers named after birds or with surnames ending in “er”, or both. 

17:31: Ooh, our traffic analytics tell me that someone near the leader’s office is reading this liveblog. Jeremy, if it’s you, just so you know – it’s been 27 hours. If you can keep it up for just 28 hours more, you will have been at this longer than the entirety of Britney Spears’ marriage to Jason Alexander. Come on, Jeremy, I believe in you! 

17:27: Roald Dahl comments on the reshuffle: 

There’s no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There’s no knowing where we’re rowing
Or which way the river’s flowing 

17:22: Reshuffle update: Emily Ashton over at BuzzFeed has published in full what Corbyn’s spinners are saying about the reshuffle. Basically: we’re in for a long, long night. 

17:21: Awww. 

17:15: No pictures of the arm-tap, I’m afraid. Was it a tap hinting on a pummelling later on, or one hinting at a blossoming bromance between Corbyn and Burnham? Still, here’s a picture of the Obamas fistbumping.


17:10: NEWS! Body language alert:

17:08: Sorry about that, I have had a cup of tea and am now feeling a lot better. 

17:04: It’s not unreasonable to sack or move people because they disagree with you – it is unfair to their employees to brief it for two months and beyond incompetent – this reshuffle is now longer than the entire Terminator franchise – to wipe out your own story on rail fares and not have an Opposition frontbench by now. I hate everybody. 

16:54: The one thing I am more tired of the neverending reshuffle is this “Alas poor Michael” nonsense. Ultimately, he didn’t agree with Corbyn on pretty much anything, he on the record described some of his behaviour as “nuts”, he was opposed to a free vote over Trident, supportive of multilateral disarmament, etc, etc.

16:44: ARRRGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

16:30: I have been doing this liveblog so long now that I actually find it hard to make conversation without begining with a timestamp. 


16:23: And you thought I was sassy.

16:10: For those of you just joining us, here’s an update:

16:02: Lisa Nandy was NOT offered the shadow defence brief. 

15:56: William Gladstone was Prime Minister and Chancellor throughout his second government. Why doesn’t Corbyn just make himself shadow defence secretary? He’s a pacifist, it’s not like it’s going to add to his workload all that much. 

15:51: “Never mind how many eagles you end up with, you’ve all worked out you’ve got an albatross at the head of your party,” quips Cameron. Well, at least Jeremy doesn’t dress up like a penguin and smash restaurants, eh?

15:48: Jeremy and Hilary in the Commons. Trying to work out what’s going on from Hilary’s stare. Seems to be more “barely concealed contempt” than “seething hatred”. 

15:45: Labour aide: “If this reshuffle was an erection we’d have to consult a doctor by now.” 

15:37: In case you missed it, David Cameron has “done a Harold Wilson” and agreed to allow his ministers to disagree over the EU referendum. Eight years after Wilson did that, Labour had split into two parties and the party went into the election on a platform of immediate withdrawal. 

15:33: Our man in the stairwell has news! Well, sort of.

Apparently, she only sees the defence brief “as a friend”. 

15:30: Also sitting on the frontbench with Jezza: Rosie Winterton, but no sign of Maria Eagle. 

15:25: Michael Dugher tells Sky “I tried to deliver straight-talking and honest politics and I think it was too much for him”. Yep. Still not sold on “straight-talking”. Might as well go for the tool Olympics and say you just “tell it how it is”. 

15:23: My sandwich is a chicken pesto thing, for those asking. It’s not doing very much for me, to be honest. 


The Labour party in 2016: the leader’s aides, his shadow chancellor, the leader’s son who works for the shadow chancellor meet to discuss the fate of the son of the man who the leader got into politics to support. And we wonder why people vote Ukip. 


15:14: George “Dubya” Eaton has also heard that Nandy has turned down the shadow defence job. 

15:09: Lisa Nandy has turned down the post of shadow defence secretary as she is keen to remain at shadow energy, according to John Rentoul at the Indy on Sunday and that man Conor Pope. 

15:08: This reshuffle has now lasted longer than the reign of Czar Michael II. 

15:05: Is it just me who winces at the phrase “straight talking”? I just read it and assume you’re about to say something racist. It’s like “common sense”, a phrase which always prefaces an argument made by a fool. 

15:03: I’m back! Michael Dugher has changed his Twitter bio:

14:40: Troubling. Note how they don’t say ‘late afternoon today‘. I’m off to get me a sandwich, back in 15. 

14:33: If Hilary Benn does go, that could trigger a series of resignations from the shadow cabinet – potentially extending this liveblog by another week. 

14:28: A chilling view into a universe without Michael Dugher courtesy of BuzzFeed’s Jim Waterson:  

14:27: The good news is I don’t have any evening plans. 

14:23: What do we know so far? Well, I can confirm that Jeremy Corbyn is still leader of the Labour party. Tom Watson is still deputy leader of the Labour party. And Ian Murray is still shadow secretary of state for Scotland. (Labour are going to have a lot of problems if he gets involved in some kind of goat-related scandal, aren’t they?)


We have now reached hour 24.


14:10: The pollster Kieran Pedley has written an article for the Telegraph saying that given Labour’s polling position, this reshuffle doesn’t matter anyway.He’s mocking me, basically. 

14:05: The political reality of this reshuffle though is that it reveals – yet again – Corbyn’s remarkable position of strength at the top of the party. Dugher’s sacking won’t usher in a series of mass resignations from the shadow cabinet and even if it did he would remain secure as leader. 

14:01: There is – unsurprisingly – a lot of anger among staffers that they and many of their friends have faced a Christmas of uncertainty over their jobs, and what is now approaching a 24-hour wait since the reshufle began. (Even if your boss is not under threat, if you have been brought in for policy expertise and your boss is moved, it’s not great news for you.) 

14:00: Lunch update: I still haven’t got any. Hearing rumours that Team Corbyn have sandwiches. 

13:53: If MC Escher did liveblogs…

13:49: Deadlines are slipping by fast – the shadow cabinet meeting at 12:30 has, unsurprisingly, been cancelled. At 3pm, Jeremy Corbyn faces David Cameron in the House of Commons – it’s not clear if the reshuffle will be done by then. And at 5pm, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary (TBA) will respond to the government’s statement on Saudi Arabia. 

13:45: Which will happen first: the end of the reshuffle or the end of the parliament?


13:37: If, as seems likely, Dugher is out and Emily Thornberry is in, there will be a lot of noises off about the Londonification of the Labour party – some of which will be merited, some of which will be mischief-making. It does seem mystifying that Chi Onwurah – a Geordie and the only engineer in the PLP – looks likely to stay out of the Shadow Cabinet again. 

13:35: Oh god, I’m going to die before I finish this liveblog, aren’t I?


13:33: Graham Jones, the MP for Hyndburn, is bringing sassy back. 


13:27: Andy Burnham has an urgent question in the House of Commons. His question is: “Can I build a time machine and start my leadership campaign over again?” OR to ask how terror suspect Abu Ramaysah escaped UK. One or the other, I forget which. Technically we can pretty much guarantee that he’ll remain in post as shadow home secretary then. John Healey and Heidi Alexander, also speaking today, are also safe in their posts. 

13:22: Paul Waugh has the details on the praising of Dugher.

13:17: Someone has just reached this liveblog by Googling “Who is in Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet?”. If you find out, let me know. Here’s what happened so far: Michael Dugher has been sacked. Hilary Benn and Maria Eagle had long meetings with Jeremy Corbyn yesterday, result unknown. The sacking of Lord Falconer has been widely rumoured. And…that’s about it.  

13:10: Conor Pope tips Nia Griffith, a unilateralist, to move from the Wales brief to the Defence post. Diane Abbott could also make the switch. I did a very interesting* and widely praised** piece on Labour and the bomb in which Abbott described the deterrent as “totemic” within Labour circles. (Far more than in defence ones, really.) 

*I thought so.

**My mum retweeted it. 

13:08: Other good bets include Owen Smith (17/1) or Heidi Alexander (50/1). The latter is unlikely to happen but you know, not 50/1 unlikely to happen. 

13:02: On bookmakers: Peter Clelland asks which I think is more likely: Corbyn stopping being leader before 2020 or a Labour split. I think both are close to 99 per cent not going to happen, but Corbyn cycles in London so I’m going to say maybe he has a one per cent chance of not being leader against an 0.9 per cent chance of a formal split pre-2020. 

12:59: Speaking of lunch, people are asking what I’m getting. I’m trying to cut down on snacking in the office so much, but I left my pack lunch behind today so probably I’ll go to EAT or something. More news as we get it. 

12:52: A thought. Jeremy Corbyn could do worse than moving Chris Bryant back to the shadow culture brief. Bryant was one of the best politicians in the brief, on top of the whole portfolio and regarded it as his dream job: moving him there would create a strong ally. Julian Barnes once lamented that Tory politicians “tend to behave as if the job is either an embarrassment or a punishment (maybe for being caught reading a novel in the Commons canteen)”, and many Labourites do too. Bryant very much wouldn’t – and Eagle might see it as less of a demotion if she were given the job of shadow leader of the house. It’s win-win. 

12:50: Are you kidding me?! 


12:48: Senior Labour insider suggests that keeping Hilary Benn but moving Maria Eagle is good politics for Jeremy Corbyn. “Why win a fight that’s over [Syria] when you can win a fight that’s yet to come[Trident]?” “The moderates chose the wrong hill to die on,” they conclude grimly. 

12:46: There is meant to be a shadow cabinet meeting right now. Not sure if it’s going ahead in an incredibly awkward fashion or if they’re all loitering in a different staircase, frantically refreshing this blog. 

12:44: But as Conrad Landin of the Morning Star points out, don’t expect tributes to lead to insurrection or anything like that. 



12:42: It would be easier to list the politicians who aren’t paying tribute to the fallen Dugher – he’s added the Unsackable Ian Murray (coming soon to Netflix!) and Emma Reynolds to his tally. 

12:29: Bookmakers Ladbrokes have not unreasonably asked me to put my money where my mouth is. A good way to balance your odds is to bet on Corbyn to make it until 2020 at 6:4 and put money on Clive Lewis as next leader at 25/1. If Corbyn goes before the election it willl be due to ill health – Clive Lewis has the same politics and a great backstory.

12:24: Bookmakers Ladbrokes have cut Dugher’s odds of becoming Labour’s next leader. Hilary Benn is still the favourite at 4:1 -better off burning your money, at least it’ll keep you warm.

12:17: Michael Dugher reveals that Corbyn told him he didn’t like what he’d been writing. Can we expect a top job for Ben Okri, a novelist that Corbyn rates very highly? Only time will tell.

12:12: Chris Bryant and Vernon Coaker – both of whom are believed to be safe in their jobs –  have joined the tributes to Michael Dugher.

12:00: Stephen here. It’s all kicking off, eh? Dugher was instrumental in persuading Corbyn refuseniks to join up, and a protege of Tom Watson – many of those mourning his departure were persuaded to join by him. His eye for a good quote made him very popular with journalists – but less so with Corbyn’s inner circle.

11.32: If you are still reading this after the abomination below, the back-pedalling refers to whispers Corbyn has reversed his intention to fire shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn and shadow defence secretary Maria Eagle. What’s telling is that Dugher was shuffled out via a phonecall, whereas Benn and Eagle were in for long meetings in Corbyn’s office last night. The talk is that Benn will stay, and Eagle will be reshuffled but not demoted.

11.29: George picks up a vivid metaphor from one of his sources:


11.06: Dugher himself voiced anger at Labour’s lack of authenticity in light of its election defeat. He told me in an interview last May, following the general election, that Ed Miliband had “too many pointy-heads and too few street fighters” in his top team. It looks like the PLP are concerned that Corbyn is going the same way…

10.51: In fact, lots of Dugher’s (now former) fellow shadow cabinet ministers are focusing on what the loss of a man of his background means for Corbyn’s team:

Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell called his an “important and authentic voice” and said “him going is a loss”.

The shadow home secretary Andy Burnham warned, “We face a big challenge in winning back the trust of our traditional supporters in the North and the Midlands and Michael is one of the authentic voices who can do that.”

And the shadow young person’s minister Gloria De Piero commented, “It’s always sad to lose someone from an ordinary background from the shadow cabinet.”

10.38: Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, who is close to Dugher, laments Corbyn’s decision:

“Michael Dugher is a rare politician – a talented working-class MP who hasn’t lost his strong Yorkshire roots.

“Politicians with his ability and commitment can make a difference in any role. Labour’s loss in the shadow cabinet will be compensated for by Michael’s free thought on the backbenches.”

10.25: A shadow minister speaks to us about Dugher:

“Michael Dugher has taken the bullet for many of us by publicly standing up to Corbyn and offering support to vulnerable colleagues in the face of Momentum’s antics. In doing so he’s helped hold the line against them in the PLP and wider party, and helped protect people like Hilary and Rosie.” 

10.22: In a haunting foreshadowing of his fate, Dugher wrote a piece for us in December saying that a revenge reshuffle “would not be very new politics”.

10.20: Dugher tweets that his sacking is due to Corbyn taking issue with pieces he’s written. Guess where he voiced his dissent…

10.13: Dugher hadn’t been particularly enthusiastic about the Corbyn machine. He told George in an interview in November that it was “crazy” for Corbyn’s supporters to set up Momentum:

“To be honest, we’ve got too much on . . . The idea that we’ve got a spare ten minutes to be setting up factions within the Labour Party, rather than getting after the Tories and getting back in touch with the public: crazy.”

5/1/16, 10.11: Anoosh here. Michael Dugher goes! The shadow culture secretary shadows no more.

Here’s his tweet, which broke the news:

Dugher had held the position since Corbyn became leader of the Labour party in September 2015. At the end of Ed Miliband’s leadership, he was shadow secretary of state for transport.

21:57: So, that’s it.  The end. No new moves, no new appointments, no sackings either. Jeremy Corbyn held long meetings with Maria Eagle and Hilary Benn – but we don’t know what the upshot was. Charlie Falconer was tipped for the sack – but we don’t know if he’s still there. I opened this liveblog at 2:30. It is now close to ten. I’m off to become a homegrown extremist.  Thanks for sticking with us to the bitter end – for those wondering, I had a lamb dansak in the end. Goodnight. 

21:55: Update from our man in Jeremy Corbyn’s staircase. 



21:52: What I like about this Benn extract is that it reveals Wilson at his rudest and power at its most brutal.  A reminder that in a sense all reshuffles are “revenge reshuffles”, with the exception of the ones that are embezzlement reshuffles, adultery reshuffles, or “I”m Tony Blair and it’s a quiet summer” reshuffles. 

21:47: Dave Loren, who you can find on Twitter here, has thoughtfully dug out the 1975 diary recording Tony Benn’s sacking:

21:31: “The truth is that these events are always very bad and perhaps the worst of all the duties of a PM,” Harold Macmillan once wrote, and the reality is that the headlines after reshuffles are pretty much always bad – unless you pull off an entirely unbriefed surprise like sacking Michael Gove.

Corbyn of course never hired Michael Gove. Rookie error, Jeremy, rookie error.

21:24: Who coined term “revenge reshuffle”? It was Michael Dugher, according to Harry Cole. 


21:20: For those of you just joining us: here’s what you’ve missed. Lord Falconer, Tony Blair’s former flatmate, is tipped for the push at Shadow Justice. Hilary Benn and Maria Eagle have left following long meetings with Jeremy Corbyn, their fate unknown. And not a single appointment has been announced yet. I opened this liveblog seven hours ago and am gradually losing my mind.

The expectation is the news will come soonish, though, so keep hitting refresh. 

21:10: There’s a very good reshuffle anecdote in Tony Benn’s 1975 diary, but my copy is regrettably in the office. So you can look forward to that tomorrow when this liveblog enters its second day. (There will still be no appointments to report). 

21:09: My hunch – and it’s just a hunch – is that no news is good news as far as Benn and Eagle are concerned. If either had been removed from the Shadow Cabinet entirely, one assumes that a sacked member of staff would have leaked it by now. However, that doesn’t mean that either (or both) have kept their existing portfolio.

21:01: Speaking of the blessed Toblerone, this is one of my favourite reshuffle reflections:

20:58: The problem is that political journalists were spoiled by the Cameron-MIliband era. Both politicians had good reshuffle operations. Tony Blair, for all his election-winning heroics, did not, as he himself admits in his memoirs:

20:56: Mark Ferguson, formerly of LabourList and the Liz Kendall leadership campaign, thinks he has worked out Team Corbyn’s strategy:


20:53: The real victim of the reshuffle: in the other room, my partner is taking a phone call. “Yes, Stephen’s here. He’s doing a liveblog. Of the reshuffle. No, it hasn’t actually happened yet.” 

20:48: I’ve just discovered that “Chris Bryant” scans exactly with “Green Giant”. 

20:45:  News of another shadow cabinet move. 

20: 44:

 But if she’s moved to DCMS, she’l be a Culture Vulture!


20: 38: I’d say it feels more like a trip round Ikea with your partner. You know it will end eventually. But you don’t quite believe it.


20: 35: Is it too early in the night to do my “Hearing that Ian Murray has been appointed shadow secretary of state for Scotland” joke yet? 

20:32: Thank you to the many, many Labour staffers who have texted some variant on “Maria Eagle looking grumpy? Must be a day of the week with a y in it”.  

20:30: Eagle latest. It doesn’t look good for her. And probably not for Benn, by extension…

20:29: Maria Eagle has just left her chat with Corbyn. It feels likely that an extended negotiation with first Benn and then Eagle about possible future roles is underway, while Winterton – the other figure tipped for the sack – appears to be home safe, although the future of her deputies and the width of her brief are still up in the air. 

20:20: It looks like Jess Philips will not be joining the Opposition frontbench.


20:15: The urge to just make up a fake MP and make them shadow minister for communities and integration or something is getting stronger. 

20:12: More from Eagle’s brief chat with journalists. Is she keeping her job? “I don’t know. We’ll have to see.”  

20:08: Maybe this is all a very clever brand awareness exercise? Maybe they’re not reshuffling at all. 

20:00: Maria Eagle has arrived to see Corbyn. Asked if she was going to see him by waiting journalists she replied: “Yes, it’s obvious, isn’t it?”

19:55: Does this tweet from Mary Creagh suggest that Benn is a goner after all?


19:48: Progress director Richard Angell is in a wry mood.


19:42: News! I have decided what to order for dinner as I can’t be bothered to cook and feel I deserve a treat. I’m having a curry. 

19: 35: Away from the reshuffle, great work from new Labour MP and frontbencher Anna Turley:

19:32: Ken Livingstone tells Channel 4 that “between now and 2020 there will be several reshuffles, some of them caused by illness and death”. Is he….is he going to start having Corbyn’s opponents killed?!

19:27: It may only be a limited reprieve, of course. Liam Byrne’s allies persuaded Ed Miliband not to sack him in 2011 – two years later, Miliband went ahead and did it. 

19:22: Comrade George with the latest. If Benn has survived – which is still only an “If” – it appears to be because his allies rallied round to him, forcing the leader into a rethink.


19:20: I’m back! Did you miss me? (Don’t answer that.) 

19:13: That’s all from me, folks. I have a date with some sausages, and Stephen Bush has a date with YOU. 

19:10: It’s not the despair that gets you in the end, it’s the hope.

19:07: How on earth has Stephen done this all afternoon? I did think there was a haunted look in his eyes as he plaintively held out his cup on the tea round earlier.

19:05: Is the reshuffle going to be a noshuffle? No, wait, that doesn’t work. Minimeshuffle? Weeshuffle? The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg is now reporting that Benn might not be moving after all

19:00: George, our man on the scene, says Benn gave no comment as he left. Unlike the last reshuffle, the Corbyn team are controlling the flow of information well so far. Let’s see if that holds . . .

18:59: My mole reports that Hilary Benn has been spotted leaving Parliament by the Derby gate. NEWS might be incoming.

18:56: Harriet Harman is on Newsnight tonight, and it sounds as though she will be on fighting form. She’s already made known her unhappiness with the lack of a woman in the Big Four jobs, and the failure of her plan to enshrine a gender-balanced top team in the party’s rulebook. Here’s her former aide Ayesha Hazarika enjoying a pink limousine to get to the programme (in mockery of the much-maligned pink bus). 

18:52: Media management, Tony-style.

18:50: Reading more of The Insider to pass the time as the office empties. Enjoyed this small apercu into Alastair Campbell’s world in January 2000:

18:45: Seriously, though, it has been 40 minutes now.

18:40: Labour blogger John Blake has also been following the reshuffle for too long, as he’s started to post a quite

The liveblogs continue as, 1 by 1, the soft left turn up, come in and get handed a bit to bury outside. “Like the Great Escape,” Rosie says.

— John David Blake (@johndavidblake) January 4, 2016


18:40: Diane Abbott is also enjoying some #reshufflelols


18:35: The reshuffle is now entering its sixth hour, as is the vigil being kept by lobby journalists in the vicinity of Corbyn’s office in Westminster. For some reason, this passage from Piers Morgan’s The Insider springs to mind:

“Saturday, 1 January 2000

The Millennium Dome was opened on Millennium Eve with a huge party. I was invited but couldn’t think of anything worse in the entire world than spending the dawn of the next 1000 years with a bunch of politicians.

I heard today that all the editors who did make the effort got left for hours at Stratford station with a plastic cup of warm wine. That will be the end of the Dome, then.”

18:30: Here’s Chris Bryant, taunting us with his ability to leave his desk. 


18:26: OK, that’s a lie. I already had a gingerbread man that I found lying on the web desk earlier.

18:24: Helen here. No more news to report but thought I should let Stephen get home in case this lasts until tomorrow morning. I’m not saying it will affect my opinion of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, but I will note that there are sausages and mash waiting for me at home, and I haven’t had any mid-afternoon snacks because it’s January and I’m on the usual laughable diet. 

18:18: Right, I’m going to finish this liveblog off at home. Until I get there, our deputy editor, Helen Lewis, will be in charge. Keep refreshing!

18:15: Obviously I have a personal interest here but if reshuffles have any real value it is surely to get a photo of your shiny new team on the 10 O’Clock News and then a little mention on music radio the day after? Letting it drag on like this sub-optimal, to put it mildly.  

18:09: I have waited four hours to use this photo:

18:06: NEWS! Hilary Benn is meeting with Jeremy Corbyn. Will he stay or will he go? 

17:55: George Eaton, special correspondent for ruining my evening, has the latest:

17:53: The reshuffle looks to be coming down to a debate about whether to move Benn – and if they can pull it off. 

17:50: Jon Lansman, the director and general grand panjandrum of Momentum, has waded into the “To Benn or not to Benn” question:


17:48: “Rather more chipper?” The liveblog has turned me into a character from the Famous Five. 

17:45: The fear for many Labour staffers is not that their bosses were under threat but that they might quit if Rosie Winterton and Hilary Benn were ousted. The majority are now sounding rather more chipper. 

17:39: Thank you to the people who have asked about my dinner plans – it looks like I will be ordering food to the office thanks to the good people at Deliveroo. 

17:34: Ken Livingstone tells the BBC that the reshuffle is unlikely to be finished by 10pm. That distant whistling sound you can hear? It’s me, screaming. 

17:31: Meetings with MPs seem to be running behind – no-one is quite sure what’s happening. Some Labourites are getting disgruntled. 




17:26: Spare a thought for shadow ministers’ staff, who have spent the Christmas holidays worried for their jobs, and are still waiting to hear. And also for the livebloggers. The poor, bedraggled livebloggers.

17:14: My brother from another mother Conor Pope has had the smart idea of checking tomorrow’s parliamentary business – those are the jobs that need to be filled first. Health and Housing. As I reported earlier, Heidi Alexander is tipped to stay put, but this suggests that John Healey will remain in place too. 

17:10: An idea…maybe when Corbyn’s aides talked about a “revenge reshuffle” they meant “revenge on the political journalists”?

17:05: LabourList‘s Conor Pope suggests that Willy Bach could return in lieu of Lord Falconer, who may well be on his way out. 

16:59: Harriet Harman has called for a ban on an all-male Labour leadership team, telling Newsnight:

“We can’t have a men-only leadership when we are party for women and equality.Women expect to see men and women working together and we can’t have an all-male leadership again and therefore we need to change the rules.”

One of the hopes for this reshuffle is it may partially fix the diversity problem at the top of the party, where all the major offices of state are currently held by men. 

16:55: Operation Save Hilary continues, as Jamie Reed, the MP for Copeland who quit the frontbench just minutes after Corbyn was elected, calls on his leader to keep Benn in post:

But the rumoured removal of Hilary Benn from the position of shadow foreign secretary would be a calamitous error for Jeremy to make, perhaps marking the most severe damage inflicted by Jeremy upon the party to date. In the process, as the medium for his own message, Jeremy would cause untold damage to himself.

Reed says that while Benn and the government met with Labour MPs to discuss why airstrikes were the right course of action, Corbyn refused to do the same to make the case against bombing. 

16:52: News! Barry Gardiner has liked my tweet saying that he would be a good hire as shadow secretary of state for DECC. Is this a sign? I mean, I always* like it when people** on Twitter suggest I should be given my own TV show, and I haven’t been given one – yet. So, make of that what you will. 


*One person.  

16:47: I didn’t say it was a good joke. 

16:45: I’m reminded of an old joke from Spitting Image. “Nothing has happened,” says the Conservative representative early on in an general election programme.

“That’s not true!” protests the Labour MP, “A lot has happened!”

“It’s the same old two-party story,” says the Liberal Democrat, “Actually, a little bit has happened.”

16:37: Team Corbyn doing a remarkably good job of keeping this reshuffle leak-free. Which is heartening for Labour people but frustrating for livebloggers. 

16:34: Journalists waiting outside Jeremy Corbyn’s office have been given chocolate by a mysterious figure!

16:31: Former aide to Tony Blair Matthew Doyle is not happy. Not happy at all.  


16:30: Comrade George has thoughts re: Falconer.

16:24: If Falconer does leave, it would really mark the final end of the Blairites – I don’t mean as in “people on the right of the Labour party/people on the centre left”, but as in “people who owe their promotion to their political and/or personal closeness to Tony Blair”. 

16:23: The grandfather of liveblogging, the Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow (the blogfather?) has dug out this remarkable interview with the perhaps soon-to-be-sacked Lord Falconer in which he disagreed with Jeremy Corbyn no fewer than twelve times. 

16:21: “You know more than me,” a Corbyn aide tells waiting journalists. Not sure if this is about the reshuffle or more of an existential howl.

16:15: I don’t have any photos of Charlie Falconer looking sad in my “Politicians Looking Sad” folder (I’m serious, it’s a handy tool to have), but I do have this:

16:12: Replacing a justice minister is generally quite difficult as there often aren’t enough well-qualified lawyers floating around (unless you’re Cameron, who has appointed first a management consultant and then a journalist to the post since sacking Ken Clarke, the only barrister to hold the role under him). But in this case there are plenty of people who are closer to Corbyn who could do the job – Catherine McKinnell, Andy Slaughter but most likely of all Emily Thornberry could do it. 

16:10: Steve Hawkes at the Sun is hearing it too:


16:06: NEWS! Thank god. I’m hearing that Lord Falconer, who was Lord Chancellor under Tony Blair, may lose his job as shadow secretary of state for justice. 

16:04: An activist laments.  


16:00: Laugh? I nearly started. 

15:55: Expect a lot of fairly naff “Whatever happened to the kinder politics?” pieces after this reshuffle. But in reality it’s not unreasonable to move a shadow foreign secretary you don’t agree with and reshuffles are always grisly. 

15:50: Reasons to hope that Dugher survives in his job: there are no pictures of him in the Getty archive. Whereas I’ll be quite disappointed if I don’t get a chance to use this picture of Hilary Benn, who has yet to hear what time he is meeting his leader according to LabourList.

15:48: In non-snack news, Emily Thornberry is widely expected to join the Shadow Cabinet today. In her current capacity as a frontbencher, she has written a blog about the universal credit and George Osborne’s sudden conversion to it:

I cannot think of a more egregious example in recent years of a policy which promised so much and delivered so little. 

It isn’t just the endless delayscomputer crashes, “resets” andinter-departmental squabbling that have conspired to bring about the failure of this flagship Tory welfare reform.

15:46: For those of you who have emailed and/or Tweeted about my snack: I had a Twirl. It was good. 

15:44: A reprieve for Dugher? A senior Labour source pooh-poohs George’s suggestion that he could be for the chop. 

15:42: Ahhh, how sweet. 


15:30: Gardiner would be a great promotion by Corbyn – one of the MPs who really gets climate change, and a regular writer for the Staggers. You can read his stuff here


15:28: Barry Gardiner may have been promoted, says Harry Cole. He could fill Nandy’s shoes admirably if she moves to Defence. 


15:26: Sorry about the radio silence, I had to go get myself a snack because my colleagues left me out of the snack round. I may conduct a revenge reshuffle of my own. Fortunately, not much has happened. 

15:16: Labour are learning! 

Last reshuffle, Darren was able to loiter outside, writing an excellent blog (excellent for readers. For Labour, less so.)

15:14: One Corbyn ally speculated to me that it makes sense to reward Ashworth with a department to shadow, and give his NEC position to a pro-Corbyn MP, perhaps Cat Smith.

15:04: Another thing to keep an eye on is NEC appointments – Corbyn has two, of which one is held by Rebecca Long-Bailey, a Corbynite ally, the other by Jon Ashworth, from the centre of the party. Ashworth has thrown himself into the role of Labour attack dog under Corbyn, and voted with Corbyn on airstrikes. He was also, along with Winterton and Dugher, one of the non-Corbynite MPs who wooed others into serving under Corbyn. 

15:02: The biggest loser from today’s reshuffle is Sadiq Khan, Labour’s mayoral candidate. Labour had their annual fare rises campaign, leafleting train stations with details of eye-watering raises in rail and train fares under the Conservatives – while Khan’s campaign has pledged a four-year freeze in Tube fares. There’s little chance of that getting noticed now. Here’s a photo of Sadiq Khan looking sad. 

14:59: Top bantz from the lads at Team Corbyn.


14:56: “Excuse me guys do you mind not hanging around outside my office door, could you all leave please.” was the exact quote according to Sky’s Darren McCaffrey. Here’s another photo of Jeremy looking disappointed. 

14:53: There is a surprising lack of photos of Corbyn looking down his glasses in a headmasterly manner, but here’s one which captures the expression I like to imagine he had when chastising journos:

14:50: Not being shooed by Corbyn is Seema Malhotra, who won plaudits in the fight to stop tax credit cuts but is unlikely to be promoted as shadow chief secretary to the Treasury as there is a limited number of possible replacements in that brief.

14:46: “Do you mind not hanging out outside my office door?” Jeremy Corbyn has come out of his office to shoo waiting journalists. (I am wrapped up nice and warm at NS HQ.)

14:42: Last time, Corbyn was heavily criticised for having too many men in top posts – but as I wrote at the time, that was largely due to making space for Andy Burnham and his allies: Benn at Foreign, Dugher at Culture, and Lord Falconer at Justice. I speculated at the time that Benn wouldn’t last long:

What was a huge error was to keep Hilary Benn in post at Shadow Foreign. Benn looks uncomfortable already and his media appearances today bore all the hallmarks of a hostage video. It would have been better to appoint Diane Abbott, who has a wealth of media experience and is a devout Corbynite. I wouldn’t be surprised if the longterm consequence of this move is an early resignation from Benn – and a lingering aroma of being “just for the boys” from Labour, which looks worryingly like a golf club at its highest levels. Or, if seeking a moderate, offering it to one of the many centrist women who expressed a willingness to serve but were passed over: Emily Thornberry, and thought to be open-minded on Trident, could have done an excellent job. Instead, as my colleague Helen Lewis reports, she was offered nothing.

14:40: Unlikely to be moved: Heidi Alexander and Lilian Greenwood, who have both impressed at Health and Transport. Alexander also has one of the best Twitter bios in Westminster: 

14:37: Corbyn has people who are far better qualified – or, at least, better paid – than me to give him advice but I reckon that he may regret pruning the whips’ office. He has very few Corbynite MPs and it seems a waste to put them in what is effectively a backroom role. Campbell and Tami have a gift for organisation – just ask Tony Blair, who Tami helped to oust – which they’ll retain even outside the whips’ office. Better to have them inside the tent, etc….

14:33: Almost as important as who isn’t moving – Rosie Winterton, the respected Chief Whip, is likely to survive. But her deputies Alan Campbell and Mark Tami are likely to be ousted – and the important thing to watch out for is if Winterton retains her responsibility for the boundary review, which many Labour MPs believe will be used as a pretext to remake the PLP in Corbyn’s image. 

14:25: My colleague George Eaton has the latest gossip: Michael Dugher will be sacked as shadow secretary of state for culture, while Maria Eagle will be moved from shadow defence to shadow culture, avoiding a clash when the issue of Trident renewal comes up. At shadow foreign, Hilary Benn is on course to be moved in favour of Emily Thornberry, who voted against airstrikes and is also anti-Trident. As to the question of who takes defence, however, that’s a more difficult matter:

Far fewer names have been linked with the post of shadow defence secretary. Unlike in the case of Syria, Corbyn represents a minority in the shadow cabinet. There are just four other confirmed opponents of Trident (John McDonnell, Jon Trickett, Diane Abbott and Ian Murray). Clive Lewis, a Corbyn loyalist and a unilateralist, stated this morning that he did not want the post having only become an MP eight months ago. Lisa Nandy, the shadow energy secretary and a Trident sceptic, is a possible alternative. 

14:22: Jeremy Corbyn is meeting his frontbenchers one-on-one this afternoon to discuss the reshuffle. Some of the meetings will be face-to-face, others over the phone as some members of Parliament are still in their constituencies. Hit “refresh” for the latest.