The next scheme to knock Corbyn: Stories about the shadow cabinet resignations

Thangam Debbonaire and Jeremy Corbyn [Image from the Bristol Post].

Thangam Debbonaire and Jeremy Corbyn [Image from the Bristol Post].

Thangam Debbonaire put out her story about being undermined by Jeremy Corbyn over the weekend – now Lilian Greenwood has published hers.

I wonder who’s next?

The problem with both stories so far is they rely on events in behind-closed-doors meetings to be acceptable.

Look at the claim below – that Mr Corbyn undermined Ms Greenwood’s campaign against raised rail fares at the beginning of the year. It looks fine until you do a quick search of the national news and find plenty of coverage of Labour’s position, starting on New Year’s Day.

Rail fares are increased annually on January 2 so, two days later, it is most likely that the news media would be cooling off on the subject and looking for something new in any case.

If you want to read Ms Greenwood’s speech in full, you can find it here. Perhaps you can find an element in it that lends her more credibility than I can find.

Thangam Debbonaire provides her story here.

I don’t think Mr Corbyn will ever comment on either story – or any of the others that may or may not appear at regular intervals over the next few days and weeks. I reckon he would prefer not to dignify them with a response.

My own immediate reaction is that it has taken them this long to fabricate decent stories about their decisions.

That may seem a harsh verdict, especially with regard to Ms Debbonaire’s story which relies on her treatment for cancer – but the overarching strategy of the so-called Labour ‘coup’ has been manipulative from the start and I would not be surprised if the intention was to use her illness to play on people’s feelings.

Remember: This is the same group that claimed Mr Corbyn failed to win votes in the EU referendum when he actually brought in more than any other party leader.

This is the same group that organised a series of timed, on-the-hour resignations of shadow cabinet members and then claimed they were spontaneous.

This is the same group that arranged an unconstitutional vote of ‘no confidence’ in Mr Corbyn, in an unreasonably short period of time, in order to ensure that grassroots party members who support Mr Corbyn could have no input in their decisions.

This is the same group that circulated a ‘false flag’ photo of a person wearing a T-shirt saying “Eradicate the Blairite scum” at a pro-Corbyn rally, stoking up outrage that he could allow such a thing – which turned out to be a stunt arranged by the anti-Corbyn, right-wing think tank Progress and a PR agency that has been linked with the plotters.

This is the same group that put out a series of lies to the press, only to have them debunked within hours – sometimes within minutes – of becoming public. Ms Debbonaire’s account of a Bristol Labour meeting being overrun by abusive Corbyn supporters is an example of one. Attendees have come forward to say the meeting was no more abusive than any other at which feelings run high – and that the MP herself had tried to veto a confidence vote in Mr Corbyn no less than seven unacceptable ways.

This is the same group that tried to pervert the Labour Party Rule Book to keep Mr Corbyn’s name off the leadership ballot paper – and failed.

This is the same group that, having failed to keep Mr Corbyn off the ballot paper, tried to ban his supporters from having a vote, while changing the rules to ensure that richer – and therefore more likely to be right-wing – members and supporters could buy votes that may be used to support an opposing candidate.

This is a group that knows the right-wing press will pick up and amplify any anti-Corbyn story its members care to put forward, because bringing down Corbyn will reinforce the neoliberal status quo that has been dismantling the statutory safeguards available to poor and working people for nearly 40 years.

This is a group that doesn’t care about the Labour Party members who helped get them elected, never mind the people of the UK who actually voted for them. It is a group of people who care about nothing more than their own continued wealth, power and comfort.

That’s why this is a group that must be stopped.

On 4 January– a cold dark Monday morning– I was at Kings Cross at 7am doing Radio 5 and BBC TV.

Standing with Jeremy and the Rail Union General Secretaries for the media photocall. It was a crucial day in the Party’s media grid.

And all across the country local party activists were outside railway stations in the cold and the dark, leafleting commuters with the materials we’d prepared. Armed with the briefings and statistics.

Incredibly, Jeremy launched a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle on the same day.

It knocked all the coverage of the rail fare rise and our public ownership policy off every news channel and every front page.

I respect completely Jeremy’s right to reshuffle his top team. But why then?

It was unnecessary and it was incompetent.

Source: Lilian’s speech to Nottingham South Labour Party members – Lilian Greenwood MP


Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:


22 thoughts on “The next scheme to knock Corbyn: Stories about the shadow cabinet resignations

  1. foggy

    None of the above MP’s mentioned those issues in their resignation letters either. Surely, if JC was that bad they would have mentioned this in their letters ?

  2. paulrutherford8

    If you read a third version of what looks like a ‘templated’ or ‘scripted’ statement from Chi Onwurah, there appears to be a theme.

    The theme: “I’m a good Socialist, a good MP. I was working my ass off for Jeremy, but he did something to undermine all my hard work on your behalf by ******** [insert what you like], so I’ve thrown a hissy-fit. But you’ll understand, because you’re all good, decent, hard working people who do the right thing. We need a Labour government, with me in it of course, but only the sort we allow. We know best.”

    I’m not doffing my cap to any of them 😉

  3. John

    I saw C4news last night, so I saw her interview with Cathy Newman. I also saw the reporter piece before it, on the Trident issue.
    The coup has definitely done ONE thing for me…. it has massively REDUCED my TRUST in ANY MP, especially the Labour backbenches.
    It certainly doesn’t help, when people are at rock bottom with ‘politicians’ anyway.
    I’m open minded on what Thangham was saying, but if she’s ‘used’ her cancer in anyway, to attack JC……..
    Of course, you get the usual idiots on Twitter (probably Tories), coming out in full support of her, calling Corbyn any number of things.

    I know you’re probably going to write a separate blog on Trident, but I was left laughing and puzzled at the piece they did last night.
    There was this young lad interviewed, who said that he’d never vote for Corbyn again, Trident is our only job prospect around here etc etc, and a girl we didn’t see, saying she hoped Corbyn would never get into power. This is all despite the fact that Corbyn, to my knowledge, has always stated that people’s jobs would always be safeguarded before Trident is disposed of.
    Also, I admit my understand of this is patchy, but if, according to C4news, money has ALREADY been spent on renewing Trident?, then why is parliament having a vote on it????

    1. A Grumpy_Old_Man (@Hairyloon)

      Seems to me a bit rich to accuse her of “using her cancer” to attack Jeremy.
      It does not seem credible that they discussed the matter and appointed her to the post despite the fact that she would clearly be incapable of fulfilling the role because of her treatment.
      Whereas it seems entirely plausible that they didn’t know about the cancer and simply assumed that she’d want the job.

  4. John

    I forgot to add a couple things to my comments:

    1) There is already a petition on 38Degrees? to have Thangham de-selected I think, someone on twitter spotted this (that’s how I know about it)
    2) I saw on Twitter that Cathy Newman has apologised for inappropriate tweets.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I’m actually saying we don’t have any way of knowing whether they are speaking the truth.
      Can you prove me wrong?

      1. hannah Moynehan

        Even if every single “fact” is actually true – when you look at the details it doesn’t justify tearing the party apart, just at the point some stability was so vital – for all Labour supporters and even the wider public.

        Her biggest issue seems to be that JC choose a time to do a reshuffle that was inconsiderate because of her hard work and effort around transport, and her plans for that same period of time.
        Could he have done it on another day? Maybe. Would that have caused bigger problems that we are unaware of? Possibly. He certainly doesn’t seem like a stupid man so there must have been a reason for him taking that step on that day.
        Is it fair for her to feel irritated and aggrieved? Sure. But I bet most of us have been in a position where we’ve worked really hard on something and our boss has decided on the day that something else was more urgent and didn’t make full use of our work. It’s a perfectly good reason to challenge your boss and tell him/her how it made you feel. But for her to say “I respect completely Jeremy’s right to reshuffle his top team. But why then? It was unnecessary and it was incompetent” is jawdroppingly hypocritical.

        This is her most often voiced issue but the rest take rather the same topic – that she felt her boss didn’t share her priorities and didn’t do what she felt was most important. Unfortunately that is just life. Irritating and dispiriting but life. She says he listened to her and gives no impression that he was rude or unpleasant to her – just that he didn’t see her priorities as being his.

        Then she gives the impression she was planning to quit anyway and the coup just happened at the same time. Even if I subdue my scepticism about this – if that is actually the case and she really wanted what was best for the party and her constituency and the public – then she should (IMO) have postponed her plans to resign and stayed in her position to help stabilise the situation, not go ahead and quit at such a damaging and irresponsible time.

        Well. I immediately have less respect for her as she has used her illness to try and garner sympathy – conflating that with any actual complaints she has about JC and his leadership.
        If I again assume that every fact she offers is true then it seems the initial issue is that she was given a job that didn’t really exist and not told, then that error was undone, then they all mutually agreed to reorganise things and for her to take on the job. OK so that’s a bit of a bungling cock-up, but everyone makes a few and I can’t see how it has anything at all to do with her illness. Who can say what would have happened if she had said she was unwilling or unable to take on the task? Would she have been thrown under the bus – I doubt that – there is no evidence that JC has ever done that. Maybe he would have said sorry I made a mistake and taken the blame. Maybe something else. Speculation is pointless really and what actually happened resulted in her getting her dream job, and being able to ease back into work at that dream job.

        Her next set of issues are about her “hearing from colleagues” about how hard it was to work with JC. Actually not a single thing about how she had any trouble working with him. Not one single complaint based on personal experience!
        In one particular sentence decrying how hard hr colleagues have found it all she says that “I had found out from other front bench women how unwilling and unable Corbyn is to communicate with, listen to or work with anyone outside his narrow group.” Is it just me that overtly noticed the use of the word “women” when that seems an irrelevance? I can’t help feel she added that unnecessary word to her rather vague (and evidence light) complaint to garner support from women – similar to how she looks to gain the support of those hurt by cancer in her initial complaint.

        Am I being unfair and callous? I don’t think so. I am a woman and I’ve been touched by cancer, very closely. I really don’t appreciate anyone trying to tug on those issues for their own political gain.

        Then there’s the EU
        Both Greenwood & Debonnaire – plus the last joiner in this {one complaint a day} game (oddly reminiscent of one quit an hour) – take issue with his EU referendum activities.
        Apparently he went away for 5 days (or a week depending on which thing I read). If he did should he have? I don’t really know, maybe not. However it seems odd that so little has been made of this, as it’s the only really concrete and provable complaint I’ve seen against JC. Is there a reason this hasn’t been shouted about? I’m genuinely curious about this. However, even if its true, he was in the media more than any other Labour MP during the referendum – more than any of the other Labour MPs supporting remain OR Leave – so he can’t have been missing in action that much!
        I have to admit that I personally avoided much of the coverage pre-referendum as it all made me so mad, so when I first heard that JC was supporting remain it made me very concerned. I admire him, at least in part, because he sticks to his beliefs – therefore knowing he has always been rather Eurosceptic I found the idea he had totally changed his tune rather worrying. When I did eventually see him talk about it I was relieved that he explained he still felt the EU wasn’t anywhere close to perfect, but that on balance he thought (70/30 I believe) that staying in was a better idea for us all. That seems to me a reasonable and balanced attitude!

        Debonnaire’s complaint that people she approached were telling her “but your leader wants out, doesn’t he?” has to have been an issue for many campaigners either way (apart from UKIP!) as the opinions were not split on party lines. I would hope Labour politicians were able to use their leader’s rational and balanced attitude to explain to people why remain was the better choice, whilst respecting the leave supporters’ views and alienating none. If it didn’t work that way for her I would put the blame at her feet for her own (lack of) ability.

        They have all talked about his lack of enthusiasm – but what they call lack of enthusiasm I see as treating us all like reasonably intelligent people able to understand that nothing is 100% one way or the other. I think it encourages us all to base our decisions and views on reasoned consideration of the facts, and understand we can never be utterly certain one way or another.

        After the referendum there’s the issue of the email sent to congratulate the Labour MPs in the leave campaign. I’ve not seen the email and am keen to see a copy if anyone can supply one, but I find it hard to understand why this could be considered be so divisive. I do not have a problem with the leader of any party congratulating their colleagues on something like this. If it’s an open vote – not whipped to a party line – and a huge deal – is it not inclusive and polite to congratulate those who won their way, even if you personally voted the other way? What should he have done? Denigrated them for winning? Despite allowing them all to campaign and vote how they see fit? I think congratulating them for a win he would not have wanted is exactly what an inclusive “boss” should do.

        Apparently JC said “initiate article 50 Now!”. I’ve not found the original interview and quote – which I’d like to see – as always I want the whole context! But my immediate reaction is – isn’t that a good way to show how crazy their (the leave vote lack of) plan was all along? Maybe it was a shrewd move, maybe it was an unwise mistake.

        I’ve read all the words of all the complaints in the one-a-day “reveal why you left” offensive so far, and my opinion is that JC might not be the best boss ever. Shock horror! He’s been in politics for most of his live with a minimal staff and this whole thing of dealing with umpty intelligent and opinionated people that he really needs to corral in some way has to be weird and difficult. I’ve seen no-one say he has ever been destructive or mean. Has he handled every single instance in the best way possible? – probably not. Has he always shown respect for others’ views and aimed to include them and work with them? – as far as I can see yes.

        If you disagree with his policies then side against him. If you see clearly someone else whose policies you do agree with vote for them. But don’t pick someone else just because they aren’t Corbyn and you’ve heard heard he is un-electable, or has made some mistakes, or is not the best boss, or is somehow responsible for unpleasant people that happen to support him.

        Consider – is anyone else you pick guaranteed to be uber fab in charge. And even if they turn out to be fantastic as a boss – is that what is the most important thing? Managing their own MPs and staff? Or is reflecting your views the most important thing? Then think again and consider how they have voted in the past and do they reflect your views?
        And if they reflect your views and you don’t object how the got to where they are, then vote for them

      2. Tim

        Eh? It’s you who have to prove your assertions are true not for me to disprove that you’re mistaken or making something up. A private citizen like me not being able to prove that something you have written is incorrect does not mean that it is correct. Do you concede that the things that the women mentioned have said and related might actually be factual and true? Or not?

      3. Mike Sivier Post author

        You wouldn’t be proving anything about something I have written; you would be supplying supporting evidence for the initial claims, asserted by Ms Debbonaire and Ms Greenwood. If you don’t have it, then you’re basing your argument on hearsay.

        So, again: Do you have any evidence supporting these ladies’ assertions?

      4. lisajenkinsfiction

        In regards to Hannah’s comment about Thangham not having one single complaint about working with Corbyn. I read that also, on her Facebook page when she made her public post. Yet she has added bullying by Corbyn supporters during her cancer treatment to her story since then. And maybe she didn’t find out she was fired until six weeks later (a timeline that was missing from her initial statement) but her boss knew. So, was it Corbyn who was in the wrong or should Maria Eagle, who spoke to Thangham Debbonaire on at least a weekly basis, have told her own employee that she didn’t have the position?

  5. David Woods

    If so many ‘NewCon Labour’ members hadn’t tried so hard to remove a democratically elected leader of the Labour Party – it may not have been necessary for him to do a cabinet reshuffle in the first place!

  6. mohandeer

    How timely these accusations are, indeed one might think, if one was as “petty minded” that the timing was not mere coincidence.

  7. hanspan

    Maybe he has made mistakes – everyone does and I’m sure his predecessors have too. But nothing in either of these people’s statements justifies the underhand backstabbing that has gone on, or the tearing apart of the labour party just to oust one man from the leadership at such a totally horrendous moment.

    To me much of it seems like trivia – not the fact of the cancer and treatment – but if you take that out the actual story of what sounds like an honest mistake (if it happened) that caused no lasting issues for anyone involved. Even more so the business of reorganising the shadow cabinet on a date that clashed with something else. Could JC have delayed a few days? Maybe. Would that have clashed with something else? Who knows! But using this as the most widely publicised concern or issue she has, when she chose the time she did to quit, is gobsmacking. In her eyes it seems causing some disruption at a time it would interfere with getting out news about the rail policies is somehow worse than causing total meltdown at a time when the country so so much needed some stability somewhere.

    Without being able to compare these stories with those of previous years and leaders, and without being able to get at the actual facts and calendars there’s really no way to know how much is true and how much is exaggerated or even made up, and there’s definitely no way to know whether however much is real is business as usual or not. Regardless – however true or not these stories are they can never excuse the shockingly callous way those involved in the coup, and those supporting it, ignored the needs of their supporters and constituencies and the public at large for some calm and stability when the shock and fear of the Brexit vote and its fallout was being felt by so many of us. JC won’t be leader for ever, even if he wins again this time. There won’t be a general election until 2020 unless something utterly bizarre happens. So there was most certainly no urgency at all to cause all this pain and upset.

    I will not easily forgive or forget those who caused me to be this angry and upset, so soon after my fear and anger after the EU vote, and at the same time I feel such sadness and more fear at the fallout in terms of increased violence and hatred. There’s therefore no hope any of them will get my vote for anything – regardless of what they now say or do – for a very very long time, many of them not ever.

  8. Glen Stuart

    It’s hardly a very convincing argument. The Monday after the fair rise was the first day commuters turn up en-masse at stations around the country, can talk to people handing pamphlets, and typically start paying for their new weekly/monthly or even yearly ticket.

    It seems bizarre how Corbyn is being deified and anyone who thinks he’s nice but not a good leader gets accused of all sorts of vileness. Unfortunately Labour will get its wake up time at the next GE when the voters – not the small percentage who are busting with pride at JC and join Labour to keep him leading the party – when the people of Britain vote, you’ll find that those who agree with you and think he’s fit to run our country far outnumber the rest.

    It’s sad that not only you are keen to shoot the messenger, but you want to trample on their graves at the same time.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      To me, as a journalist who reported on the fare rise on January 1, it seems a very convincing argument.
      Anybody who buys season tickets of whatever duration would have been paying attention in advance, in any case, so your argument falls on that alone.
      People who think Corbyn is nice but not a good leader aren’t being accused of all sorts of vileness, as you suggest; people who behave in a vile manner towards him – and towards the party membership – are being held to account for their actions. I know it’s easy to confuse the two, as those responsible for such actions are trying to muddy the issue.
      We’ve heard the disinformation about the voters many time now. There seems to be some sort of cognitive dissonance among the people who come out with this argument, though. They find it impossible to understand or accept that Mr Corbyn’s Labour doesn’t lose elections. Even you seem confused about whether the voters will be against Mr Corbyn or whether “those who agree with you and think he’s fit to run our country far outnumber the rest”.
      As for your final paragraph… well, perhaps you were looking in a mirror when you wrote that.

  9. burtthebiker

    There’s one more, at least, concocted story designed to damn JC; the Angela Eagle “Brick through my constituency office window” one, except that it was through the window on a shared staircase in a building shared by at least half a dozen other businesses, and it was 99.99% nothing to do with JC supporters. But it keeps being repeated as if it was definitely a Momentum thug protesting at Eagle stabbing JC in the back, heard it on R4 news this morning

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I’ve already written an article about the brick, I think.
      Also, I just had a big argument with a fellow party member about it – in Tesco! I was pointing to the evidence you quote but she wouldn’t have it. At the end she told me to “F*** off, Mike!” and stormed off.
      It’s her way. She’ll get over it. She might even look for some evidence on the Internet.

  10. lisajenkinsfiction

    I do feel for Thangham Debbonaire, who couldn’t. I wouldn’t wish cancer on my worst enemy. And I have no doubt that Corbyn did hire and fire her all within the space of 24 hours. But what wasn’t mentioned anywhere is that it was around the time of the January reshuffle, when MP’s were accepting positions and then resigning to force another reshuffle and all the while sending texts to journalists outside. She claims not to have known she was sacked for six weeks, yet her boss, Maria Eagle must have known because she was pushing on a weekly basis for a meeting with Corbyn to sort the situation out. Would her boss let her carry on doing a job she didn’t have? Thangham then claims to only have heard about difficulties with Corbyn from other MP’s but changed her tune in later interviews to say she had issues herself. NewStatesman has her telling us about her assistant having to nag for a promised meeting but that wasn’t mentioned in her original statement at all, and she gave an interview back in March praising the support and understanding she had from the leadership team. She also, in this same NewStatesman piece, claims to have been harassed by Corbyn supporters for not voting while receiving cancer treatment, and not trusting Corbyn to deal with it as she’d seen him dismiss their actions before. This again was not in her initial statement and gives a far different picture to the supportive leadership team she praised just months ago.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      All of your comments considered, I’m afraid I don’t feel for Ms Debbonaire at all.

Comments are closed.