The result of the Labour leadership election will be announced on the 25th of September. But as the Waarsi Huhne press conference this week showed, with its demand that the leadership contenders return their ministerial severance payments showed the softening up work is already starting.
From the beginning of September, a new CCHQ operation will issue quotes from ministers that are too political for civil servants to handle and pump out opposition research. The aim is to associate the new leader with Labour’s failures and to force them to say what they would do differently.
The new Labour leader’s first few months in the job will be crucial. Labour has ticked up in the polls since the election. If a new leader can get through to the New Year without incurring much damage then the opposition will be in a strong position. But if the coalition can do to him what Labour did to Hague and Duncan-Smith then it will have the political breathing space that it needs.