For the past few weeks, Labour MPs have been ratcheting up their plotting against Jeremy Corbyn. As I explained here, they have detailed planning sessions for a potential coup in the summer, and have broken their parliamentary party down into groups so that they can develop strategies for persuading each group to accept that the sooner the party gets a new chief, the better.
Now, the Corbyn operation is disorganised, but it’s not totally ineffectual, and funnily enough the Labour leader’s allies are quite keen to avoid any attempt to take the Hard Left out of power when it has only just taken over. So the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy is trying to change the rules at the July meeting of Labour’s National Executive Committee so that the leader is automatically included on the ballot paper in the event of a challenge, rather than him needing to get 35 signatures all over again.
This is why many moderate Labour MPs have shifted from talking about the importance of their side coming up with big ideas in order to excite the membership and move on from the rather tired impression they gave in last summer’s leadership contest. They now think that the organisational side of things is more important, hence the increasing number of meetings to plot tactics. They are helped by the machine politics of Labour First, which represents the Old Right of the party and is trying to get a slate of moderate candidates elected to the NEC in order to stop rule changes like this.
But the biggest obstacle remains the Labour party’s character. Its MPs don’t do defenestration. Sure, they like a good moan about how terrible things are, and they also like to talk tough about what they are going to do. But even when they mount coups, they tend to fail because other MPs panic and run away from conflict. Given that there are as many Labourites who I speak to who think that it is far too early for any successful move against Corbyn as there are plotters, it’s unlikely that the Labour leader’s allies need to worry about a rule change just yet.