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Wednesday 6 January 2016

Michael Dugher - Why He Went

And so Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet reshuffle has been completed. Very little of the carnage predicted by a variously clueless Westminster punditerati has come to pass. Very few shadow ministers have moved jobs. But it is one departure - that of Michael Dugher as shadow Culture Secretary - that has shown up the Pundit Establishment for what it is: self-serving, self-absorbed, and, on Labour, monumentally clueless.
Michael Dugher - who won't be missed

Dugher has been built up - by the same pundits, remember - as some kind of man of the people, a connection with Labour’s working class roots. Yet one only has to listen to him speak to realise that this is another who talks like a Blair clone. His man of the people credentials extend to spending the nine years before becoming an MP as a Westminster insider, initially as a SpAd. This was, in the heat of yesterday’s moment, ignored.
From the moment Dugher Tweeted “Just been sacked by Jeremy Corbyn. I wished him a happy new year”, the cluelessness kicked in. The Sun’s alleged “Westminster Correspondent” Harry Cole grumbled “Corbyn PPS Steve Rotherham [sic] emerges and refuses to be drawn on Dugher's sacking, says he's more interested in football”, not realising he’s damn lucky Rotheram [note correct spelling] will talk to him at all.
The Telegraph’s not at all celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges had to have his ninepence worth: “Dugher sacked. Eagle reportedly sacked from defence. Falconer sacked. We'll now see that show of solidarity from their colleagues”. So he didn’t know what he was talking about either. The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog left it at “Michael Dugher Confirms He's ‘Sacked’ In Reshuffle”.
A wise move for once, unlike all those who read Andy Burnham’s comment “.@MichaelDugher is Labour to the core & has served our Party with distinction. He can leave the front-bench with his head held high” and mistook it for dissent from Corbyn’s decision. My good friend Peter Jukes was left to break the bad news: “Two senior sources suggested Dugher was vulnerable as shadow culture minister a while back, mainly because seen as too close to News UK”. I’ll go further: Dugher was viewed as useless.
Why? Jukes again: “I thought he was almost invisible at DCMS given importance of Leveson, BBC Review and Channel 4 privatisation”. And once again I’ll go further: the identity of both the sources Jukes mentions is known to me. And how the assembled pundits missed the view of at least one of them really beggars belief.
Even the usually reliable Kevin Maguire was off the pace, with “Unsurprised Dugher backed by his Labour colleagues. Sacked Shad Cab Min is shrewd, able, popular Northern street fighter. Corbyn will regret”. No he won’t. The Sun’s Steve Hawkes was more predictably clueless: “Can Andy Burnham stay in his post after the public flogging of the man who ran his leadership campaign?” Er, yes he can.

Hawkes then doubled down on his idiocy by observing “Tom Watson breaks cover to say Michael Dugher's sacking a big loss to the Shadow Cabinet. The beast stirs!” Would Sir like it pointing out with a dirty great club? Dugher was virtually invisible on Leveson 1 and 2, the potential Channel 4 sell-off, and the BBC cuts. He was too close to the Murdoch press. But his former colleagues made sure he got a dignified send-off. Thus another chapter in the Pundit Establishment getting it totally wrong. As you were, guys.


Andy McDonald said...

I have to admit that until he was 'sacked', I hadn't the faintest idea who he was.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

After Dugher, I see we're getting same moans-'n-groans about Jonathan Reynolds, who has now auto-defenestrated.

As far as memory goes, Reynolds was sequentially a National executive Wunderkind, a Council apparatchik, James Purnell's bag-carrier, a parachuted draft-in — courtesy of Unite — for Purnell's seat, and general dogsbody. In short, the straight formula SpAd.

There's a stack of talent at local level in Labour Party. What we get in the PLP seriously differs.

And it's damn all to do with perceived social class. When these self-designated "working-class" types spring from the working-class, it's a generation or two later and a hell of a long spring.

Anonymous said...

"Northern street fighter" my arse. Good riddance to a Blairite warmongering, privatising gobshite. He finally got found out is all. Any day now you'll find him fetching up in the Scum or Daily Heil. Which is where he and the rest of his ilk belong. The sooner Benn joins him the better. It's going to take years to repair the damage those traitors have wreaked.

Corbyn has completely wrong footed mainstream media with this mild reshuffle. Hence they're frothing hatred at the mouth. I've just watched that gesturing, twitching, hysterical idiot Norman Smith on Beeb News make an even bigger fool of his tory self than usual. I can't wait to see Kuensberg trying to slide her mouth sideways off her chin or Crick on C4 News disappearing up his own arse or Witchy Poo Maitlis on Newsnight trying to stab people with her biro.

What fun. If only Corbyn had taken a flame thrower to all the neocon doggies!

Anonymous said...

More like an East End barrow boy spiv or second hand car salesman than a Northern Street Fighter.

mirandola said...

On a railway blog I frequent the only question asked about shadow rail minister Jonathan Reynolds is "Who is he?"

All these shadow Blairite ministers are far more interested in plotting and leaking to the press than doing their actual job - opposing government policies and working up viable policies of their own.

Bob said...

Maria Eagle on Twitter outlining the key areas: Pleased to have been appointed to new role as Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
Culture, the arts & sport are an important part of our national life but under this Tory Govt we have seen them suffer from huge cuts.
The Tories have also launched an attack one of our most treasured institutions - the BBC. I will take them to task on these issues.
And will be calling on the Government to proceed with the implementation of the proposals put forward by Leveson.

Chris Bryant did a lot of good work which was largely ignored by Dugher. We will see Dugher's true colours in the next few days by the media company he chooses to keep.

pee c said...

Pretty clueless too, when briefly a shadow-transport bod. But then, most people in that situation are.

Anonymous said...

Do you still think Jeremy Corbyn is finished Tim?


debby said...

In all my decades of watching re-shuffles both in the UK and now Oz I've never seen such vacuous moronic reporting from the media.

I see my view being proved almost every day. Not only is the vicious mindless media helping make Jeremy Corbyn one of the most recognizable politicians on the planet they are helping to make him extremely popular among Labour voters but I bet swinging voters are watching with interest.

This is actually a really bad time for the print media to be such bastards with their faulty reporting. The decline in the established media will escalate over the next 5 years and they are acting like a wounded dangerous beast on the way out.

Also confirming this is an interview I heard a few days ago with a top Russian political reporter who said after 70 years of Stalinism & Communism Russians treat anything in the media with a grain of salt but he pondered why people in the West believed their media when they were not even made to. That's all changing rapidly.

Anonymous said...

The news just gets better and better. Three more Blairites resigned from the front bench.

The natural fumigation process is on its way.

More great entertainment on its way from the far right media (that is, all of them) as it trips over itself to lie and manufacture its hysterical propaganda muck.

At last grass roots Labour Party members are beginning to organise to get shut of the Blairite corrupters. There's a long way to go and it may yet be derailed or betrayed, but after the shake out has taken its course the Party stands a good chance of restoring its principles.

Best get ready though for a flood of neocon lies and frame ups from the usual media suspects.

Tim Fenton said...


Ultimately, yes.

The Parliamentary party will not let him carry on a moment longer than they want. And he can't sack them all.

But it will be the party that does the deed, whatever the press may claim.

Andy McDonald said...

@Eric Hardcastle:

Something I've observed over the years is the shift from reportage to storytelling - rather than simply report what happened and why, it has to fit into an overriding arc of that which we call the great human soap opera. If there was a point of no return for this, it was most likely the official report into the events of 9/11, 2001. This report, a vital document covering issues of national security, disaster planning, foreign policy, military strategy and so much more, began waxing lyrical about clear and chilly autumn mornings and death swooping in like a bad Andy McNab thriller.

As many (including Tim I think) have pointed out, one of the reasons for the 'get Corbyn' approach of the media is laziness - when he became party leader there were plenty of people suddenly shifted out of the limelight. They still had plenty of journalists on speed dial though, and plenty of journalists were happy to quote them.

Anonymous said...

Tim Fenton at 13:32.

Normally you'd probably be right. But there's a difference now.

All the far right crap has been tried since 1979 and it's failed as predicted, including the compromised New Labour horror. The country is divided as never before, deliberate attacks made on the most vulnerable, a quarter of the population in poverty, unemployment well over two million (anybody who believes the "official" figure needs their head examining), housing and further education a privatised ripoff, and profiteering salami slicing of the NHS in the works.

The present Parliamentary Labour Party is seen as betrayers of everything the party once stood for. Hence the election of Jeremy Corbyn by grass roots members. The PLP can only ignore the grass roots for so long before the culprits get the boot. The PLP is a rotten house of cards waiting to collapse. Oh sure there'll be the usual tripe peddled by the usual barrow boys - they might even delay the collapse or oust Corbyn.

But THIS TIME people have the experience of the last 36 years of far right politics and thieving economics, of the Thatcher gang, Major, Kinnock, Blair, Brown, Bullingdon Cameron/Osborn, Clegg and Ed Milliband. All of them not only failed but were seen to fail and an increasing number of people suffered and suffer the consequences. Elsewhere, entire nations have gone bankrupt and sunk into ruination because they went along with the con. The propaganda could only "succeed" for so long before it was twigged for the bullshit it was and is.

After all this the far right has only one place to go when the failure gathers even more pace, as it will. Guess what that is - try the Weimar Republic.

Jeremy Corbyn, bless him, is only a symptom of what is wrong. Whether he's the right man to progress change is a moot point. We'll see. But at least he's tried. Which is more than can be said for the cowards in the PLP. If the grass roots of the party fail too then the outlook for this country scarcely bears thinking about. More years of the tories and New Labour will see the country return to Dickensian-like times, this time televised as masochistic "entertainment."

That's why Corbyn is important. And why I hope he succeeds in ridding us of a rotten-to-the-core political establishment - starting with the Parliamentary Labour Party.