Much the same can be said of of the reputed 20 shadow ministers working behind the scenes to give Ed Miliband the heave ho. Evidence of a plot? If The Observer's claims want to be taken seriously they have to be a bit more substantial than that. It sounds to me that Danczuk and co are inflating their importance. What in reality has happened is every single whispered whinge, every rolled eyes in Strangers, every grumble in the Members dining room has been puffed up into something it's not. Are there shadow ministers who moan about Ed Miliband. Of course there is - who doesn't moan about their boss. Does that mean a putsch is in the offing? No, absolutely not.
Apart from shedding light on appalling journalistic standards, as well as the efforts - in The Mail's case - the right will go to to demonise and traduce a Labour leader with the temerity to stray ever so slightly from the neoliberal consensus, what else can we take away from this sorry episode? It says a little something about the Westminster bubble, for starters. Imagine what the inside of that universe looks like. It's bounded by narrow point scoring in the chamber, has stakes and obsessions peculiar to it and, at all times, is walled in by what the press and pollsters say. The trip to the monthly constituency meeting, the surgery, and the weekly trek across voters' doorsteps are the few points of contact with the real world. So, after a session in which a member has knocked on and had conversations with 25 or so, what will stick out in their mind. The concerns about anti-social behaviour? Cracked pavements and overhanging trees? Or the one or two voters who have unedifying - pun intended - words to say about the Labour leader? The "truth" of Westminsterland finds confirmation in the cognitive biases it inculcates.
Our plotters have an inability to think beyond polling numbers too. We've been here before. In January 2010 Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt circulated a letter calling for Gordon Brown to go and his replacement by someone else. Then, as now, no leading shadow cabinet figure came forward. They knew that doing so within spitting distance of an election would inflict unnecessary division on the party and, rightly, be seen by party members and close supporters as outright scabs. Learning from that shambles, Danczuk's cosy chats with The Mail are an attempt by an unremarkable UKIP-lite backbencher to bounce one shadcab member into committing career suicide. It has failed, but when they see polling numbers saying a Labour Party led by virtually anyone else would extend the polling lead you can understand the logic of it. Leaving aside the unholy mess a leadership election would now cause, there is absolutely no guarantee a Alan Johnson, or a Chuka Umunna, or an Yvette Cooper-led Labour wouldn't also go downbank. The problem with Labour, ultimately, is political. If the party doesn't address itself to the insecurities that bedevil everyday life, support will remain locked where it's at. A short fillip in the polls from a new leader would not sustain itself all the way to the Spring if nothing else changes.
As it stands right now, the ghost of a plot has not effected a corporeal one. Ed remains in place and isn't going anywhere. All it has done is solidify most of the PLP and the membership behind the election-winning task at hand, highlighted how desperate sections of the press are, and underline the bankruptcy and stupid empiricism of would-be regicides.