Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs from today, including how not many people avoided the 50p tax.

1. Not many people avoided the 50p tax

Contrary to Osborne's rhetoric, the vast majority of high earners paid the required amount of tax, writes Kiran Stacey at FT Westminster.

2. Ed’s funding proposals: Nearly but not quite

Miliband's refusal to accept an “opt-in” option for affiliated union members has left the Tories a critical opening, writes Peter Watt at Labour Uncut.

3. Could Cameron catch a cold in the mayoral referendums?

The PM could be damaged if more than half of the cities vote "no" on 3 May, says Mike Smithson at PoliticalBetting.

4. Boris retains poll lead – but 78% believe he is Mayor for the rich

Voters agree with Ken's plan to cut fares but don’t believe it will happen, notes Mark Ferguson at Labour List.

5. David Gauke quietly benefits amid the Treasury's troubles

The Exchequer Secretary is now the man wheeled out to explain difficult or controversial bits of economic or tax policy, notes the Telegraph's James Kirkup.

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Who really controls the Labour Party now?

Jeremy Corbyn's allies will struggle to achieve their ambition to remove general secretary Iain McNicol.

Jeremy Corbyn's advance at the general election confirmed his place as Labour leader. Past opponents recognise not only that Corbyn could not be defeated but that he should not be.

They set him the test of winning more seats – and he passed. From a position of strength, Corbyn was able to reward loyalists, rather than critics, in his shadow cabinet reshuffle. 

But what of his wider control over the party? Corbyn allies have restated their long-held ambition to remove Labour general secretary Iain McNicol, and to undermine Tom Watson by creating a new post of female deputy leader (Watson lost the honorific title of "party chair" in the reshuffle, which was awarded to Corbyn ally Ian Lavery).

The departure of McNicol, who was accused of seeking to keep Corbyn off the ballot during the 2016 leadership challenge, would pave the way for the removal of other senior staff at Labour HQ (which has long had an acrimonious relationship with the leader's office). 

These ambitions are likely to remain just that. But Labour figures emphasise that McNicol will remain general secretary as long he retains the support of the GMB union (of which he is a former political officer) and that no staff members can be removed without his approval.

On the party's ruling National Executive Committee, non-Corbynites retain a majority of two, which will grow to three when Unite loses a seat to Unison (now Labour's biggest affiliate). As before, this will continue to act as a barrier to potential rule changes.

The so-called "McDonnell amendment", which would reduce the threshold for Labour leadership nominations from 15 per cent of MPs to 5 per cent, is still due to be tabled at this year's party conference, but is not expected to pass. After the election result, however, Corbyn allies are confident that a left successor would be able to make the ballot under the existing rules. 

But Labour's gains (which surprised even those close to the leader) have reduced the urgency to identify an heir. The instability of Theresa May's government means that the party is on a permanent campaign footing (Corbyn himself expects another election this year). For now, Tory disunity will act as a force for Labour unity. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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