For the time being the cyber coup is over. The PM’s spinners took to the airwaves after the Parliamentary Labour Party meeting last night to report his victory. The few plotters that have gone public appeared defeated for the time being. There are veiled threats about the autumn. It is difficult to see they will have better circumstances then than they have now.
If they had the numbers to bring him down, they would have done so this week-end. If they had kept the Ministerial resignations rolling, and if each resigning Minister had criticised Mr Brown as a few did, it could have brought him down. If the backbenchers had been able to raise a significant number of names, and then started to announce new names every day, they might have forced a contest. Instead, both groups failed to work together, some appeared to be following their own personal agendas, and they were outspun by the centre. The rebels so far have lacked leadership, lacked planning and lacked resolve.Lots of Labour MPs do not like Mr Brown, and do not rate the party’s chances highly under him, but they have not yet been persuaded there is a better option that would save them.
Mr Brown has promised to listen more and to take his backbenchers more seriously. That will mean a tack to the left. The best thing he could do is abandon the Post office plans. Selling a minority stake for not very much, and leaving the taxpayer with the mighty pension deficit, was never a good deal. That could be the best bone to toss to the half starved backbenchers. It would mean the task of changing the Post Office would be left to the next government, who would then have a freer hand to do a decent deal that made sense for taxpayers and the business. I would want it to include a substantial employee shareholding.