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Jeremy Corbyn's Reshuffle Is About Effectiveness, Not Revenge

05/01/2016 11:11 GMT | Updated 04/01/2017 10:12 GMT

The latest episode of Jeremy Corbyn's criticism comes in the form of his controversial Shadow Cabinet reshuffle. MPs who have publicly disagreed with Corbyn on issues like Trident and airstrikes in Syria have claimed they are being unfairly dropped in an attempt to seek revenge for their opposition to the party leader.

The media is rife with speculation as to who will be dismissed from the current Shadow Cabinet and who will replace them, and have dubbed the adjustments a 'revenge reshuffle'. Those who were complaining that Corbyn's appointments were not inclusive enough are now saying his Shadow Cabinet should remain the same because it contains a wide range of voices. However, although Corbyn's decision to include several so-called 'moderate' MPs was welcomed by many, it is clear that such a range of opinions is no longer sustainable.

With a vote on Trident due to take place in the Commons sometime this year, it is simply not viable for the Shadow Defence Secretary to openly disagree with the leader on such an important issue, as this simply provides the Tories with an open goal. Furthermore, for Hilary Benn to remain as Shadow Foreign Secretary risks further division in the future if the issue of Syria is brought before parliament again. It is clear that changes have to be made within the current Shadow Cabinet for Labour to become an effective opposition.

However, to simply label these changes as an act of revenge is to completely misunderstand the reasoning behind this reshuffle. To have a Shadow Cabinet openly disagreeing on vital issues such as Trident and Syria is a recipe for disaster, and we have seen this in recent months with news headlines often focusing on the division within Labour rather than the actual issues at hand.

Therefore, with Hilary Benn and others unlikely to change their minds anytime soon, Jeremy Corbyn and those around him have sensibly come to the decision that a reshuffle is the only option available to them. Rather than claiming that this reshuffle will unleash 'carnage' within the Labour party, MPs need to welcome these changes as an attempt to effectively take the fight to the Tories without opposition within the leader's own Shadow Cabinet.

Those who have so publicly opposed this reshuffle need to ask themselves whether they would prefer a Shadow Cabinet that constantly disagrees and consequently benefits the Tories or one that can come to consensus' on a more regular basis, allowing for real opposition. That is the dilemma that Jeremy Corbyn currently faces, and correctly he has decided that he would rather a more effective opposition so he can get on with fighting the Tories without having to worry about dissent within his own ranks.

This reshuffle, if it goes ahead as expected, is a strategic move by Corbyn not to seek revenge but to increase Labour's chances of success in the future, and it should be welcomed by those who have continually called for a more effective opposition. Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet reshuffles are common and have gone ahead in the past without such a furore, so why should Corbyn's be any different? The likely answer is that some MPs are prepared to do anything to try and undermine his leadership. However, with several important elections coming up, if those MPs really felt so strongly about effective leadership they would allow Corbyn to make these changes to his Shadow Cabinet without claiming it will lead to 'carnage' within the party. That way, they might start to make some real progress.