The Sunday newspapers are carrying stories presenting Orwellian ‘double speak’ on the situation in the Labour Party – that is words which are the exact opposite of their real meaning (in Orwell’s 1984 the Ministry of Peace carried on war).
Hilary Benn’s position supporting bombing Syria is rejected by Labour members as all polls show, by the majority of the PLP as shown in the vote in the House of Commons, by the majority of the Shadow Cabinet as also shown by that vote, and by the Labour Party leader.
As bombing Syria is by far the most important foreign policy issue of the day it is not viable that a person whose view is rejected by every body of the Labour Party that has shown its position should be Shadow Foreign Secretary. It is necessary to have a Shadow Foreign Secretary who is line with and expresses Labour Party policy.
But some people in the Labour right are ridiculously trying to claim that removing someone from a position where they disagree with Labour Party positions is ‘revenge’ – for example see the article in the Guardian “Jeremy Corbyn critics fear ‘revenge reshuffle’ after election boost”.
Having a Shadow Foreign Secretary who represents Labour Party policy is not ‘revenge’ it is the most elementary Labour Party democracy. Even the Labour Party right should realise that – even if they refuse to acknowledge it publicly. They should have a quiet word with Hilary Benn and point it out.
Hilary Benn should ask to be reassigned to a domestic portfolio, or if he refuses to do that he should retire to the backbenches.
The correct and normal thing would be for Hilary Benn to resign because he does not support Labour policy. Robin Cook resigned when he could not support the Iraq war.
Labour Party members should point out it is unacceptable and indefensible to have a Shadow Foreign Secretary who does not agree with or express Labour Party foreign policy on the key issues. If Hilary Benn does not resign he should be replaced by Jeremy Corbyn – the timing of that replacement being purely a question of tactics.
Hilary Benn could represent Labour on some domestic issues but he cannot be Shadow Foreign Secretary.
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This article by John Ross, on the unviability of Hilary Benn’s position, was originally published on Facebook.