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Bad timing

The moment of truth appears to have come and gone

By James Macintyre

So, it hasn’t flown.

The carefully co-ordinated plan by the rebels to bring down Gordon Brown with their secret ballot proposal, first disclosed here during PMQs — a plan that included a media plan for Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt, text messages to all Labour MPs, and Frank Field following up, with Charles Clarke pulling the strings — appears to have fizzled out.

Why? Well, here’s a prediction: come the weekend, this will be written up as the coup that took place on the wrong day. This is for three reasons:

1. No doubt to the horror of some of the rebels, Brown produced an unusually assured, sharp and witty performance at PMQs today.

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2. Bizarrely, the heavy snowfall makes the Westminster plotters look somehow more introspective than they otherwise would.

3. After Tessa Jowell assured Downing Street last night that she was not resigning, as revealed by Newstatesman.com, the rebels had no cabinet minister to work with.

Unless that last point changes, Brown, for better or worse, is surely home and dry.

Footnote: I’ll be reporting on today’s coup attempt in this week’s magazine, out in most good newsagents tomorrow.

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