Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has been skating on thin ice amongst MP’s ever since his election in September, and this was the week when their anger spilled loudly out into the public domain.
MP’s are openly furious about their Leader’s response to the Paris atrocities which have seemed muddled and wooly in response to the generational threat of terrorism. In contrast to the tough response from President Hollande and other world leaders, Jeremy Corbyn spoke-out against shoot-to-kill and repeatedly raised concerns about the killing of “Jihadi John” all week. Moreover, the ‘Stop the War Coalition’ of which Corbyn was until recently Chair, released a statement suggesting the attacks were the consequence of French foreign policy.
Adding insult to injury in the eyes of his MPs, Jeremy Corbyn decided this was also the moment to appoint Ken Livingstone to co-chair the Labour Party’s defence review. Whatever Ken’s qualities and experience in other areas, MPs pointed to his lack of defence experience and past ties to both CND and support for a United Ireland. Worse still, the widely respected Shadow Defence Secretary Maria Eagle only learnt of his appointment via twitter.
After a few better weeks for Corbyn recently, all agree this has been the worst of his leadership. Certain matters are hygiene factors for a political leader – economic competence, personal leadership qualities and soundness on defence & security. Labour lost the last election because they failed the first two of those tests. After this week, they might now fail on all three.