Jeremy Corbyn had to reshuffle the shadow cabinet. He had to assert his authority to lead against repeated attempts by elements in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) to undermine.
The attitude of many on the right of the PLP resembles that of turkeys voting for Christmas. If they do not get behind the leader and represent a cohesive party united behind agreed policies the electorate are sure to kick them out come the next general election.
Many in the PLP seem to have an attitude that resembles that of those monarchs who propagated the divine right of kings mantra. They do not seem to think they have a responsibility to anyone - the Labour Party leadership, the Labour members or indeed the voters – they are there by right of their being.
There are ofcourse those on the Blairite right, who think it is only a matter of time before Corbyn is deposed as leader. Some are biding their time on this one, whilst others do their limited best to ensure that it is a self-fulfilling prophesy.
The longer Corbyn stays in position though, backed by the membership, the stronger his position will be over the dissenters. As time passes more will fall in line, as the instincts of self-preservation reassert themselves over any other concerns.
A reshuffle is a first move toward asserting authority. A second move must be to start putting out some real policy positions across the board. This has not happened so far due in part to the manner in which Corbyn became leader plus the seeming need to constantly fire fight, a combination of hostile media and dissident PLP members – with these two elements often in unison.
The policy formation process should initially primarily focus on the economy and domestic agenda. Those seeking to build division in Labour have prospered on the disagreements over Syria bombing, Trident renewal etc.
Finally, the Labour Party needs to get a proper media strategy in place. It is no good simply talking to friendly parts of the media – they are difficult to find anyway.
The ongoing attacks being launched in the press and broadcast media need to be confronted. The constant abuse on programmes like the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme have a damaging eroding effect if not countered.
There are areas of the media that have sympathy to some of the Corbyn agenda, for example in some of the business pages. Even during the Syria bombing debate, there were sympathetic noises from the likes of Peter Oborne, Simon Jenkins and Max Hastings. Potential allies need to be courted and won over.
At present, the media operation surrounding Corbyn seems to have adopted a siege mentality, which often results in a failure to communicate at all. So much needs to be done with the media operation if a clear narrative is to be communicated to the general public.
These changes should help shape the future trajectory of the Labour Party under Corbyn’s leadership. Clear policies well communicated will gain the support of the public as well as keep building the movement that began with the leadership election that brought Corbyn to power.