Chris Grayling is Leader of the House of Commons, and MP for Epsom and Ewell.
While this Government is focusing on the priorities of millions of people across the country – helping to create jobs, cut the deficit, improve schools and create a seven-day NHS – we arrived back at Westminster last week to a Labour reshuffle that demonstrated yet again why Jeremy Corbyn’s party is now a threat to economic security, national security and the security of your family.
Days passed. Sensible people were sacked. Inexperienced outliers were promoted. A Shadow Minister even resigned on live television. Labour MPs looked plain embarrassed. When I suggested to one senior Labour MP that the process was just bizarre, he looked at me and said pointedly: “There is no process”.
It was like being at a four day long pantomime, or would have been if the situation was not actually so serious. This wasn’t the Monster Raving Loony Party in action – however much it might have looked like it. It was Her Majesty’s supposedly loyal opposition, a theoretical Government-in-waiting. Heaven help us.
To me, the thing that brought home most clearly the threat that Labour now poses to Britain was the fact that on the same day that North Korea said it had developed a hydrogen bomb, Labour appointed a unilateral nuclear disarmer as its Shadow Defence Secretary. In what world is it sensible for Kim Jong-Un to have a nuclear arsenal, and for Britain to disarm and dismantle its own defences?
But then in what world would a potential Prime Minister sack one of his front benchers for daring to ask the actual Prime Minister to “reject the view that sees terrorist acts as always being a response or a reaction to what we in the West do” and that “terrorists are entirely responsible for their actions, that no one forces anyone to kill innocent people in Paris, blow up the London Underground, to behead innocent aid workers in Syria”.
As if the risk Labour now faces to our country wasn’t grave enough the Head of their Defence Review, Ken Livingstone, underscored it further by suggesting that the Party would look into whether to advocate leaving NATO. At a time when the world is looking much less secure and stable than it has been, why would anyone even contemplate abandoning the alliance that has kept this country so well protected for the last 70 years? How utterly irresponsible.
Of course, most Labour MPs know this full well. I see it every day from our side of the Commons. The body language when their leader is speaking in the Chamber is quite extraordinary. Apart from a handful of loyalists, most shift uncomfortably in their chairs, looking anywhere but at their front bench.
Senior members of the Party are only too ready to express their fury and frustration in private to their political opponents or in public to national newspapers with only a fig leaf of anonymity. There is conversation after conversation in the Gents, or the Ladies, or the corridors. They all think that this is destroying their Party. It’s also noticeable that some are bothering less and less. You regularly see Labour MPs drifting away even when serious issues are still being debated and voted on in the Commons.
There can be no doubt that Jeremy Corbyn is unfit to govern, or to let anywhere near governing. He would destroy our national security, undermine our economy and dismantle all the progress we have made.
There is a broader point though. The Labour Parliamentary Party as a whole know just how dire things are. The Prime Minister was absolutely right when he told them at Prime Minister’s Questions last week that they are all collectively responsible for the mess on their benches. This is not just about the team around the Labour leader. It is about all of them.
They are standing by while all of this happens. Many of them are still happy to serve in his Shadow Cabinet, while Labour slides towards the most left-wing agenda in this country’s modern history and victimises those who stand for normal common sense. So it is not just Jeremy Corbyn who is not fit to govern. If they cannot take big decisions in the face of this chaos, none of them are. And that is why whatever happens in Labour, we must make sure that we beat them resoundingly.