Paris massacre has exposed Corbyn as bad news for Labour in the eyes of his MPs

Chris Moncrieff
Chris Moncrieff

The horrific massacre in Paris could significantly affect British political life for decades to come.

It may seem trivial, even insulting, to compare those unspeakable events with the fate and future of the Labour Party, but the shock waves from Paris are already, it seems, undermining the nation’s left-wing led principal Opposition party.

They have already exposed the leader Jeremy Corbyn as very bad news in the eyes of many Labour MPs.

Corbyn’s grip on the party is now very slippery indeed. Many of his Labour colleagues - including some, surprisingly, who accepted shadow cabinet posts under his leadership - have publicly voiced their opposition to what they see as his pacifist views in the face of one of the greatest terrorist threats the world has ever seen.

One recent newspaper cartoon appeared to sum up his position. It showed a grim-looking and heavily armed terrorist jabbing a kalashnikov rifle into Corbyn’s stomach - Corbyn’s response was to offer the terrorist a flower by way of reply.

Corbyn’s stated attitude towards a shoot-to-kill policy, and the bombing of Syria, have also given rise to doubts among a substantial number of Labour politicians as to his fitness to fill his present role.

His first real test will come at next month’s Oldham West by-election where Labour secured a huge majority at the general election, with Ukip as runners-up. If Labour falter badly here and Ukip gain ground, then Corbyn’s future as leader will certainly be in jeopardy.

Indeed, some Labour front-benchers are already suggesting that if this happens, they may table a motion of no confidence in him.

Whatever the outcome, all this could lead to hugely damaging, and indeed irreparable harm, to the Labour Party as a responsible body in the House of Commons.

In short, Labour’s future is by no means secure.

There could be shocks all round when Chancellor George Osborne presents his spending review to the House of Commons on Wednesday.

He seems to have convinced - although not without a fight in some cases - most of the Government departments that they will have to live, at least into the foreseeable future, on some quite severely reduced budgets.

The biggest bone of contention is likely to be the expected cuts in frontline policing. He has refused to rule this out, so such a measure can be regarded as a racing certainty, despite protests from the Home Secretary, Theresa May.

Lord Lawson, a former Tory Chancellor, has said it is perfectly possible to go ahead with these cuts if the police themselves cut down on expensive and time-consuming investigations, some of them fruitless, into allegations of historic sexual abuse.

Meanwhile Iain Duncan Smith, Work and Pensions Secretary, one of the Government’s great successes, had threatened to resign if the Chancellor attacked his department too harshly. But it now looks as though the two men have come to some sort of compromise, if a rather rickety one.

However, Osborne has given an assurance of 30% more to fight terrorism - which is hardly surprising given recent events and his own comment that Britain is paying the price for not getting involved in the Syrian crisis.

One thing in Osborne’s favour is that he seems to have the knack for making bad news sound like good news - that is until people later read his proposals’ small print.

So, it could be the end of the week before we get a proper appraisal of his plans.

It is staggering that Jeremy Corbyn does not expel Ken Livingstone from the Labour Party after the former London Mayor delivered a vicious attack on Labour MP Kevan Jones, whom, he claimed, needed psychiatric help.

It seems Livingstone has made some sort of apology, but if he was ordered to apologise by Corbyn (that is still not clear, although more than likely), then any apology is worthless.

As Dave Prentis, general secretary of the Unison trade union, said last week, Labour should stop in-fighting and concentrate their fire on the Tories.

It is a strange fact that political parties which lose general elections, invariably turn on themselves for a while. The problem for Labour at the moment is that this self-harm shows no sign of ending.

And Livingstone’s contribution to the problem is, quite frankly, beyond the pale. Livingstone may be Corbyn’s old friend, but the Labour leader should rise above that and dump him without delay.