It seems likely that a Labour defeat in Norwich North would stimulate renewed talk of a plot against Gordon Brown. No doubt some of the serial Gordon-haters will revive speculation of a leadership challenge.
But if June’s uprising – with numerous ministerial resignations – couldn’t dislodge the prime minister, what would it take? Short of a Lord Mandelson “Brutus” moment it’s hard to picture a successful coup any time soon.
Several of the rebellious MPs from last month have told me in private that they are now reconciled to Brown leading the party into the next general election.
One to speak out in public is Paul Farrelly, who criticised the PM on the morning of James Purnell’s resignation. Now he is in a more conciliatory mood.
He tells me he was “severely provoked” by the “coterie” around Brown. You may remember that he was among about five MPs named by Nick Brown, chief whip, as rebel leaders.
Farrelly now hopes that the European elections – and tomorrow’s likely Norwich defeat – will be remembered as the “low point” of Labour’s fortunes.
The MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme told me the prime minister had made welcome overtures to backbenchers in recent weeks.
“If this (rebellion) comes up again at conference there will be ennui and boredom about it that actually it is being done in a mechanical way just because it can be, rather than for any reason.”