Corbyn's Sunday night blues
Few people look forward to Monday mornings, but Jeremy Corbyn would be forgiven if he had a serious case of the Sunday night blues. It has been a disastrous weekend for the Labour leader, with the majority of the Shadow Cabinet – and many Labour MPs - continuing to vocalise their disagreement with Corbyn and his team over his opposition to military action in Syria. How this battle between the Labour leadership team (who, paradoxically, represent the grassroots of the party) and the parliamentary party ends will have a serious impact on the effectiveness of the Labour party in opposition.
Over the weekend, it looked like Corbyn might relent, allowing a free vote for his MPs on the issue. However, there are reports this morning that he is considering standing firm and whipping his MPs to vote against military action. If Shadow Cabinet MPs such as Hilary Benn and Tom Watson then rebel, this creates a major issue for Corbyn. If they resign, this is likely to have a devastating impact on party stability; if they don’t (and Corbyn lets them remain in their posts), it is a huge break with the convention of collective responsibility, and sets a dangerous precedent for party discipline by making rebellions acceptable in the future. Perhaps Corbyn will have newfound sympathy for the Labour leaders he spent decades rebelling against.
The Tories might be enjoying this more if they were not engulfed in a scandal (albeit one likely to have less of a long-term impact). There continue to be calls from those within the Tory party for the resignation of party chairman Lord Feldman over the ‘Tatler Tory’ scandal, in which a senior party campaigner stands accused of bullying, sexual harassment and plotting blackmail. The Tories may have hoped that former Chairman Grant Shapp’s resignation from government over the weekend would calm the issue, but Feldman has an uphill battle to hold onto his position, especially once the inquiry gets into full flow.