1) The plotters: "...believe that Mr Brown is taking their party to certain oblivion and are still desperately searching for ways to remove him and to install a new leader by January."
2) The quitters: "...agree with [the plotters'] analysis but have given up hope of installing a new leader who just might do better."
3) The fighters: "...are beginning to hope that a recovery might just be possible."
It's a neat outline, albeit one which is pretty intuitive. But the main reason to mention it is because it throws up three supplementary questions; the answers to which could determine whether Gordon stays or goes:
i) How many MPs are actually in these different camps?ii) How many are likely to shift from one to another between now and the election?
iii) In what direction will they move?
I know it's a pretty pointless exercise, but I'd still be keen to hear CoffeeHousers' thoughts. Myself, I'd answer the questions thus:
a) I'm not sure, but I suspect the quitters and fighters heavily outweigh the plotters
b) The camps are probably quite entrenched by now – after all, Labour MPs have had over 2 years to judge Premier Brown.
c) I think there's likely to be more movement away from the anti-Brown end of the spectrum towards the "fighters" camp. If Labour MPs haven't entered the "plotter" and "quitter" camps after the past two years, then they probably never will. Meanwhile, a few Labour MPs might draw false hope from events like last week's by-election in Glasgow.
Which is to say, I guess, that I doubt Brown will be toppled by some critical mass of Labour MPs acting against him – in fact, I doubt Brown will be toppled before the election at all. If it does happen, it's more likely that it will be because he's lost the support of someone like Peter Mandelson. Especially as the current batch of plotters hasn't exactly distinguished itself in the art of political assassination.