One of Corbyn’s reshuffle aims, according to advance briefings, was to bring more unity to the shadow cabinet and Dugher’s serial dissent seems to have sealed his fate.
Here are some of the comments from the Labour culture spokesman that led to his sacking.
- Calling for an end to Corbynite “punishment beatings” in an interview in the Sunday Times (paywall) in September. Here’s an extract of what Dugher said:
If you get into things like mandatory reselection you are heading down the Wacky Races road. We’ve played this game before and it doesn’t end well. It’s time to stop our punishment beatings. Now is the time to be going after the Tories, not going after each other. It is totally destructive and it’s self-indulgent as well.
- Criticising Momentum, the organisation for Corbyn supporters, in an interview in the House magazine in December. Dugher said:
Personally, I can’t see the point of Momentum. If it’s an extension of the leadership campaign, well, they won the leadership. The whole point is when you’ve had a leadership election, all the leadership campaigns have to pack up and come together in the Labour party … It occurred to me that their aggression is matched only by their stupidity. I don’t know what the point of them is. It’s the job of Jeremy and all of us in position in the Labour party to make sure that the Labour party gets back in touch. That’s a shared responsibility and a shared burden and you don’t need to create a new faction in the Labour party which has been susceptible to entryists and which has at times resembled the mob.
- Attacking the Stop the War Coalition (which Corbyn chaired until he became Labour leader) in the same interview. Dugher said:
I think it might be quite useful if [Corbyn] went along to [the Stop the War Coalition’s Christmas event] because he can have a word with them as their former chairman and say to them: ‘Stop the intimidation, stop the abuse and stop the talk of deselections and going after Labour MPs who voted in a way they didn’t approve of’ ... What you’ve got to remember about a lot of these people in Stop the War is that they think the wrong people won the cold war. To say I might have a slightly different world view is an understatement. Communism in a modern setting doesn’t have a lot of appeal to me.
We should make a virtue of our differences and be able to have debates. This is the new politics. I’m not sure how revenge reshuffles sits with the new politics.
- Criticising Corbyn’s aides for briefing against colleagues. This is what Dugher said in an article for the New Statesman at the end of last month:
In recent weeks, we’ve seen repeated media stories that Jeremy Corbyn is planning a ‘revenge reshuffle’. A variety of sources, some of whom have been attributed as being ‘aides’ to Jeremy or those ‘close’ to the leader, have apparently stood up speculation that Hilary Benn, Rosie Winterton, Maria Eagle and me (amongst others) are all for the chop for not voting against extending military action from Iraq into Syria during the recent free vote in the Commons.
My sympathies have particularly been with Hilary Benn. He must have felt like Man Utd boss Louis van Gaal over Christmas, constantly reading in the newspapers that he is about to be sacked.
Depressingly, whilst Hilary was hard at work in his Leeds constituency talking to residents who had been hit by awful flooding, he had a tweet from those good comrades at the Huddersfield branch of Momentum (apparently tweeted from Gravesend) saying: ‘Shadow cabinet reshuffle soon lad. So you’ll have more time to spend with your constituents.’
- Suggesting in an interview at the weekend that some Corbynites want to turn Labour into a “religious cult”. Dugher told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics programme that previous Labour leaders he had worked closely with had been reluctant to “go down the path of big reshuffles”. He said:
They do try and hold the party together, they do recognise that the Labour party is a broad church, not a religious cult, that you need people of different backgrounds and try and get the best possible talents … Ultimately [the makeup of the shadow cabinet] will be a decision for Jeremy.
At Labour’s last conference the slogan was “straight talking”. Perhaps Dugher took that too literally.
This article was written by Andrew Sparrow, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 5th January 2016 12.03 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010