As December blends into January it's hard to pinpoint the exact moment at which Christmas well and truly comes to an end. Not to worry though, a Labour shadow cabinet reshuffle has arrived to disabuse us of any notion that the festivities are ongoing. And what an absurd spectacle it has been so far.
It would be hard to pick the most ludicrous moment from the continuing reshuffle, but I must say there is a special place in my heart for the remarkable outbreak of mourning that followed Michael Dugher's departure. Particularly interesting was Andy Burnham's suggestion that Dugher is necessary to win back Labour's "traditional supporters in the North". If the 2015 election taught us anything, it's that pundits, such as myself, should stop making political predictions, and yet I am willing to bet my life savings – such as they are – on the fact that not a single northerner will stop voting Labour because Michael Dugher is no longer shadow culture secretary.
"Is it really that surprising that a man who frequently criticised his boss in the media has been sacked?"
Yes, Labour has a problem of working class representation; but if the party's fate rests exclusively upon the shoulders of one man, it is in more trouble than any of us could have anticipated. Is it really that surprising that a man who frequently criticised his boss in the media has been sacked? If so, I invite Labour MPs to give their own advisers free rein in the press for a couple of weeks and then let's see where we get to.
The hysteria gripping Westminster in response to the announced reshuffle is not because it is a catastrophe, or even consequential to anyone outside of a five-mile radius of the House of Commons; it's because pretty much anything that Jeremy Corbyn does is depicted as a terrible portent of doom by the press and his clandestine detractors. Don't get me wrong, Corbyn has made poor decisions that are troubling to even his allies – but the amount of people crying wolf about everything from the angle of his bowing to his choice of cycling wear is manifestly tedious.
This reshuffle could be described as unfortunate. No leader wants to disrupt his top team less than a year into the job. And the time it has taken has frustrated journalists and would have been better spent on highlighting divisions in the Conservatives over the EU. But it is not controversial – not unless you count the fact that people are unhappy about being sacked as an unusual phenomenon.
"Pretty much anything that Jeremy Corbyn does is depicted as a terrible portent of doom by the press and his clandestine detractors"
The controversial element of the news story has been entirely concocted to add to the sense of permanent crisis in the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. "Corbyn is failing!" whisper unhappy Labour MPs to the media. The media prints their comments. The MPs use the negative stories that result as evidence that Corbyn is failing. The reshuffle is simply another part of this self-fulfilling prophecy.
This is not to say Corbyn is beyond criticism. Indeed, the Labour Party – as the voice of the working class in parliament – has a duty to be competent, strong and keen to take power. Corbyn should be criticised whenever he takes the Labour Party further away from those goals. But this looks like criticism for criticism's sake. And, as someone who has been mostly watching the thing unfold 300 miles away from central London, it looks extremely divorced from the reality of most people's lives. It looks like a class of people talking almost entirely to themselves. Meanwhile, the government is looking to pass the housing and planning bill, which could bring about the end of council housing in this country. Just another day in British politics, then.