SCOUSE power is ruling large in Her Majesty’s Official Opposition as Labour’s new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, continues to assemble his front bench team.
Liverpool-born Andy Burnham as Shadow Home Secretary, Wallasey MP Angela Eagle as Shadow Business Secretary, her twin sister, Maria, the MP for Garston and Halewood, is named the Shadow Defence Secretary. And a new post, Shadow Mental Health Minister, to be filled by Wavertree MP Luciana Berger.
Angela, older sister (by 20 minutes) of the Eagle twins, who attended Formby High School, landed the job - and that of Shadow First Minister of State - after weekend speculation she would be offered the role of Shadow Chancellor.
That job, somewhat controversially, has gone to Liverpool-born John McDonnell who is said to be more left-wing than his new boss.
Corbyn faced the most ferocious criticisms and frenzy of backstabbing ever seen in Labour ranks - the party that describes itself as a broad church
Angela Eagle will also deputise for Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions as when necessary, having proved over many years she’s up to the job. Her witty asides and jokes, as she operated as Shadow Leader of the House, have become legendary.
Joking apart, many sections of the Parliamentary Labour Party are suffering from a bout of collective shock, not just at Corbyn’s runaway success, but at some of his choices to join his front row.
Saturday’s group hugs among the four leadership contenders, after the expected, but, nevertheless, remarkable result was announced, counted for little, except in the case of Burnham who stood his ground.
Cameras were still busy flashing away in the excitement as Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper announced they would not serve in a Corbyn team. Meanwhile, New Labour heavyweights made it clear they would refuse posts, if offered, as others flounced out of the existing Shadow Cabinet before Corbyn had even finished his acceptance speech.
Just as much as Corbyn’s sensational victory said about how the party membership at large felt, the response by Labour big-wigs also spoke volumes.
Corbyn, a properly authorised candidate in the race, faced the most ferocious criticisms and frenzy of backstabbing ever seen in Labour ranks, the party that describes itself as a broad church.
Even today, the biggest names in media were eagerly seeing if they could make some mud stick by claiming Corbyn was a mysoginist who had no females in his new ranks. If they had waited for the cabinet line up to be completed their copy would have been quite different - 16 of the 29 appointments are women.
Corbyn, one-time 200-1 outsider won by a landslide, taking 59.5 percent of the votes, compared to his nearest rival, Burnham, who got 19 percent. He won fair and square in a democratic contest, fought for the first time on a one-person, one vote basis - a move designed to end the stranglehold on Labour by the so-called union barons.
One of those barons, Len McCluskey of Unite (the former TGWU) is Liverpool born, and a close friend of Corbyn. So many of the top union brass are from Merseyside, it makes Liverpool look like the residential quarter of the TUC.
Labour executives must rue the day they allowed the great unwashed a say in deciding who their master would be, but they will not be able to forget them. In the 24 hours following the result, 15,000 people had signed up to become full Labour Party members. Those swollen ranks, likewise, may not be able to forget the way many of the party’s senior MPs conducted themselves before, during and after the leadership race.
Instead of putting their fingers in their ears in denial, if only they had listened to the mood of thousands of ordinary people, playing out loudly on social media and at clamorous hustings rallies over the summer, such as the one in Liverpool. They could, even now, stand behind their new, democratically elected boss, rather than pave the way for civil war within the ranks of the party.
Nobody can say whether the 66-year-old Islington MP will succeed or fail. Corbyn is on a self-imposed probation. He’s never held any high office and has been catapulted from the back bench to the hottest front row seat at a time of life when many people of his age would be considering SAGA holidays instead of engaging in a weekly spat with David Cameron.
What of the things on Corbyn’s wish list? The quitting of NATO, getting rid of nuclear weapons, renationalising the railways and massive tax rises for the rich? Can or will they ever ever happen? There are hundreds of Labour MPs standing in the way of such socialist aspirations and even Maria Eagle, his defence chief, has previously voted in favour of renewing the UK's Trident nuclear missile system.
Yet if they had eyes to see, Corbyn’s critics within Labour, those who have continually denounced him as deluded and unelectable, would see that the spectacular rise of the reluctant hero is the clearest condemnation of the party under their stewardship. Perhaps it it they who have been living in Wonderland.