Today’s Telegraph contains a prominently placed article telling “Labour plot to topple Corbyn”, with the lead name on the by-line that of Peter “Dominatrix” Dominiczak. The content has already been rubbished by two people within the Labour leader’s inner circle, and the first thought here on Zelo Street was that this was another slice of right-wing media hokum to put with all the others. But part of it is true.
But, until now, there was no “Big Name” around which that dissent could coalesce. Those who contested the leadership last time are either part of the shadow cabinet - like Andy Burnham - or keeping their own counsel on the back benches and not going out of their way to destabilise Jezza’s position, like Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall. The opposition to the Corbyn camp was all but powerless. That is about to change.
What Dominiczak did get right was that those looking to destabilise Corbyn are trying to frame the issue not merely as right versus left, or indeed as anything personal (although, of course, it is exactly that), but as “Labour needs strong leadership”. The message being given to the press is that Corbyn did not suspend Ken Livingstone quickly enough, although that suspension came almost as soon as Ken had inserted foot in mouth.
Also at the top of the rebels’ agenda is to warn that shadow chancellor John McDonnell covets the Top Job, and therefore by implication he must be somehow prevented from getting it. All that would then be needed would be a candidate, preferably in possession of a safe seat. The Tel does not go there, but Zelo Street will. I am reliably informed that a long-serving Labour MP has agreed to "retire early" if required.
That is because the “Big Name” the rebels are courting, and I am told is willing to make a challenge for the leadership, is not at present an MP. The challenger the Labour right is waiting for is none other than David Miliband, and the only reason he has not already returned from New York City is because the International Rescue Committee has insisted on holding him to his contract, but that may be about to change.
Miliband’s contract does not end until 2018. But I understand he is expected to leave IRC later this year. He started there in September 2013; three years on and he will be nicely placed to turn up - purely by coincidence, you understand - at Labour’s conference, just to let everyone know he is back. The drawback, of course, is that much of Labour’s new intake of members is to the left of him, and he does not do empathy at all well.
But he has cabinet level experience, and a Miliband leadership would make the press think twice about labelling the party as anti-Semitic. The problem he has is that mounting a leadership challenge will provoke a bloodbath, but that is what the Labour right are prepared to do in order to see off Corbyn. Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to get bumpy.