Isabel Hardman

What has happened to Labour’s coup?

What has happened to Labour’s coup?
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Things have gone mysteriously quiet in the Labour party. Every so often, Len McCluskey and Tom Watson emerge from a meeting, asking their comrades to give them a little bit more time before any of them move against Jeremy Corbyn. And nothing seems to happen. How much more time do the plotters need to give the unions and the party’s deputy leader before they give up and make a move on the leader? Or have thy already given up, and decided that they can’t defeat him and that it’s all over?

Some reports in the past few days suggest that Labour MPs have marched all the way up the hill by resigning from the frontbench and passing a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn, only to get close to the summit and realise they don’t like heights. This would be quite typical Labour, and there might be a few who are feeling a backlash from angry constituency parties who still support Corbyn (though many MPs report that their own CLPs have passed motions of no confidence in the leader too). But the key plotters are adamant that the coup is by no means over.

What is holding them back is a desire to let Corbyn go of his own accord. And this is where the real anxiety is growing in the party, as it is clear that he won’t. He has too many people around him insisting that he stay for that to happen.

But just as it is difficult for Corbyn to step down, so it is for his opponents in Parliament to step back. Angela Eagle in particular has used sufficiently bullish language over the past week or so about her desire to launch a challenge against the leader that it would be very difficult for her not to follow through with that challenge. Similarly, many Labour MPs are facing serious struggles with Corbynites in their seats after the unrest: if their rebel leaders bottled a coup now, all the furious local meetings and online abuse would be for nothing, which given the rather demoralised state of most Labour MPs right now, would be particularly galling.

If Corbyn isn't going anywhere, his opponents should probably get on with challenging him. After all, the Tories have just decided that they want a second female leader when Labour has never had one (Harriet Harman stepping in to sort out various messes left by men doesn't count). Now wouldn't be a bad time for a woman to challenge the man making a mess of the party.