The sacking of Michael Dugher is the biggest story of Labour’s glacial reshuffle (so far). An experienced campaigner with a good relationship with the media, Dugher is likely to be a thorn in Corbyn’s side – certainly his new Twitter bio, ‘Sacked by Jeremy Corbyn for too much straight talking, honest politics’, suggests that he intends to be one. In the next few weeks he could well emerge as an unofficial spokesman for disgruntled Shadow Cabinet members.
However, there is a bigger cloud gathering above the Labour leader’s head than disaffected men with whom he disagrees ideologically: disaffected women MPs who feel that he and his fellow lefties are misogynists. The view was articulated on Newsnight by Jess Phillips, who described his decision not to appoint any women to the great offices of state as “low-level, non-violent misogyny”.
The vile abuse slung at various female Labour MPs over the Syria vote by people who view themselves as Corbyn loyalists, and the presence of the Socialist Workers’ Party (which allegedly held a ‘kangaroo court’ to handle rape allegations against one of its senior activists) within Momentum, have already raised fears among various female Labour MPs that the movement which is now in charge of their Party simply does not like women very much. While the hard left is not entirely a men-only environment, it is fair to say that its internal culture seems to have moved on from the 1970s about as much as its economics has.
Phillips’ willingness to accuse Corbyn directly of misogyny shows that these concerns are not going away. No doubt as a proudly right-on member of the patronising progressive movement he will fail utterly to recognise himself in her description (“How could I be a misogynist? I have always praised the Greenham Common Peace Camp…”), and thus stands little chance of repeatedly confirming it. His unwillingness to seriously tackle the appalling behaviour of various of his allies and supporters thus far suggests he will continue to fail to rein in their abuse and threats, too.
Under those circumstances, the depth of feeling among many female Labour MPs will only grow. While he mulls over the possibility of Blairites knifing him in the back, Phillips could yet “knife him in the front”.