Six things we learned about ‘powerless’ Corbyn’s reshuffle

Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in north London this morning

Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in north London this morning

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has carried out his first shadow cabinet reshuffle. Here are six things we learned:

• The term reshuffle may be over-egging it a little. It was more of a minor adjustment. Just two frontbenchers were ousted and one demoted. Shadow culture secretary Michael Dugher and Europe spokesman Pat McFadden were given their marching orders for disloyalty. Trident supporter Maria Eagle was moved from the shadow defence secretary brief to replace Mr Dugher.

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• Loyalty is in the eye of the beholder. Mr Dugher and Mr McFadden were sacked for “disloyalty”. Both have held a number of frontbench roles and could be considered ultra-loyalist when it comes to trooping through the voting lobbies. Mr Corbyn, however, has gone against the party whip more than 500 times during his parliamentary career and was considered one of the “usual suspects” until his election.

• Reshuffles are a measure of strength. Supporters of Mr Corbyn insist that the leader has demonstrated his authority by kicking out critics but the more popular interpretation is that the hours of deliberations and negotiations it took to make so few changes show just how little power the leader really has. Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn was said to have been the number one target due to his speech backing military intervention in Syria but he kept his job amid fear his sacking would spark a mass walkout.

• It is still taking everyone some time to get their heads around Mr Corbyn’s “New Politics”, including the leadership. First it appeared that the frontbench were free to speak their mind and the vote on Syria led to the unusual situation of the Labour leader opening the debate opposing action, with Mr Benn closing it in support of intervention. Now, it seems the shadow frontbench team will be able to speak out on free votes but only from the backbenches if they disagree with the leader.

• David Cameron will never pass up an opportunity to capitalise on the Labour Party’s woes by rolling out a few groan-worthy scripted gags. The Prime Minister mocked Mr Corbyn for carrying out “the longest reshuffle in history” and referred to speculation about Ms Eagle’s future by telling the leader: “Never mind how many Eagles we end up with, I think you have all worked out you’ve got an albatross at the head of your party.” Mr Cameron added: “You could have watched the entire run of Star Wars movies but we still don’t yet know who’s been seduced to the dark side. There’s absolutely no sign of a rebel alliance emerging either, I can see that.”

• The length of time a reshuffle takes is no indication of scale. This one began on Monday and despite just a handful of figures being moved, was only completed more than 30 hours later.

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