Jeremy Corbyn is this weekend campaigning against Labour Party policy. A year ago, it would have been quite unremarkable for the then obscure backbencher to turn up to the CND rally and give a speech against nuclear weapons. But now he’s the Labour leader, Corbyn will be speaking against the current official policy of the party he heads up.
This has obviously annoyed the many pro-Trident MPs in Labour, though some of their public frustration includes feigned surprise, given their party elected a man who sticks to his principles like glue, and who has hardly snuck those principles up on his party after election. He’s been going on about them for years.
But what is interesting is that while Corbyn thinks those principles are so important that he should publicly campaign for a policy his party does not (yet) have, he hasn’t yet found time to discuss the matter with his Shadow Cabinet. Emily Thornberry gave her presentation on the policy review at the 9 February meeting, but the substantive discussion was delayed until the following week. But then the following week, the discussion didn’t take place because shadow ministers were discussing the economy and Europe, issues sources said were more important than Trident. And this week there was no discussion again because John McDonnell gave a presentation on the economy. The economy and Europe are obviously very important, though so is defence of the realm, generally. But while Corbyn doesn’t think it important enough to prioritise at Shadow Cabinet, he still thinks it sufficiently important to attend the CND rally.
Why the inconsistency? It might be that Corbyn thinks the Shadow Cabinet is pretty unimportant. And instead the Labour membership, particularly those members who gave him his huge mandate, are the important ones. And if he pleases the Labour membership by attending the rally and sticking up for those principles that made him attractive as a leadership candidate, then the angry MPs in Westminster can only be pointlessly angry.