Ever since members of the U.K. Labour Party in September elected Jeremy Corbyn as party leader by a landslide, British political and media elites have acted as though their stately manors have been invaded by hordes of gauche, marauding serfs. They have waged a relentless and undisguised war to undermine Corbyn in every way possible, and that includes -- first and foremost -- the Blairite wing of his party, who have viciously maligned him in ways they would never dare for David Cameron and his Tory followers.
In one sense, that's all conventional politics: Establishment guardians never appreciate having their position and entitlements threatened by insurgents, and they are thus uniting -- Tory and Labour mavens alike -- to banish the lowly intruders from their Oxbridge court (class and caste loyalty often outweighs supposed ideological differences). Corbyn's reaction to all of this is also conventional politics: He quite reasonably wants to replace his Blairite shadow ministers who have been vilifying him as a Terrorist-loving extremist with those who are supportive of his agenda, a perfectly rational response that the British media is treating as proof that he's a cultish Stalinist tyrant (even though Blairites, when they controlled the party, threatened to de-select left-wing MPs who failed to prove sufficient loyalty to Prime Minister Blair). In response to the dismissal of a couple of anti-Corbyn ministers yesterday, several other Labour MPs have announced their protest-resignations with the gestures of melodrama and martyrdom at which banal British politicians excel.
Rather than wallow in all that internal power jockeying of a former world power, I want to focus instead on one specific argument that has arisen as part of Corbyn's cabinet "re-shuffling" because it has application far beyond Her Majesty's realm. One of the shadow ministers replaced yesterday by Corbyn is a total mediocrity and non-entity named Pat McFadden. He claims (plausibly enough) that he was replaced by Corbyn because of remarks he made in the House of Commons after the Paris attack, which the British media and public widely viewed as disparaging Corbyn as a terrorist apologist for recognizing the role played by Western foreign policy in terror attacks. (Can you fathom the audacity of a Party leader not wanting ministers who malign him as an ISIS apologist?)