Axed Michael Dugher fears 'straight talking' politics is a casualty of Corbyn regime

Michael Dugher
Michael Dugher

Sacked shadow culture minister Michael Dugher has spoken for the first time on how he was ditched from the Labour front bench over a phone call.

In his first interview since his dismissal from the Labour shadow team with Sky News, Mr Dugher said the real casualty of his demotion was Mr Corbyn's promised approach to politics.

He said: "The real casualty today has been the politics that we were all promised four months ago. That's a real shame, a squandered opportunity.

"Make a virtue of having debate and proper discussion...even Jeremy wants a little dissent. 'Straight-talking honest politics', people were attracted to that. I did my best to deliver some straight talking honest politics but it was a little too much for him."

In a brief phone call this morning Mr Corbyn told Mr Dugher he hadn't liked an article he wrote in the New Statesman on December 30 on a 'revenge reshuffle' not being an example of Labour's 'new politics'.

He said he was angry that people in Mr Corbyn's team had been deliberately briefing newspapers that the New Year reshuffle was pay-back for the way people voted against air strikes on Syria.

He said he couldn't stand by and let his colleagues in the shadow cabinet have their reputations 'trashed' in the press, because of media briefings coming out of the Labour camp over the Christmas period.

"In truth what I chose to do in the last few days, I chose to speak out," added Mr Dugher, who has represented Barnsley East since 2010.

He said hard-working loyal members of the shadow cabinet had been 'trashed in newspapers' because people in the employment of Jeremy said they were going to be fired in a 'revenge reshuffle'.

He denied that the article he wrote in the New Statesmen was in effect a suicide not for his own career within Labour top ranks.

He said: "I actually wrote what I thought. If he looked at the article I wrote in the New Statesman I was making a virtue of Jeremy's new politics. I said despite all the stuff we have read in papers I didn't think Jeremy is a man motivated by revenge."

He said the conversation had been polite, but short, and that at the end of the brief chat he wished Mr Corbyn a happy new year.

He said the loss of Maria Eagle, shadow defence secretary, and shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, would be a great loss as they are well respected by MPs and the public.