Today’s meeting of Labour’s NEC (national executive committee) should set some kind of timeframe for the leadership contest. Some MPs have been claiming that the whole thing could be wrapped up within five weeks of today. “Short and sharp,” says one. But I’m told that it’s more likely to run through until August with the result announced at autumn conference. This would give the party time to regroup and give potential leaders full consideration. (They each need a list of 29 MP supporters to stand). This all still needs to be thrashed out, however.

John Mann, MP for Bassetlaw, tells me that the contenders should have a televised debate – in the spirit of last month’s threeway thrillers. “I’ll be calling for it to happen,” he said. Peter Kenyon, who is on Labour’s NEC, also welcomes the idea. “It needs to be as open and transparent as possible,” he tells me.

Incidentally, some Labour insiders wonder whether Harriet Harman is being presumptious by insisting that she will hold her title of deputy leader without any contest. Apparently rule 42B2 (in case you were wondering) has a provision for replacing the deputy to hold him or her to account.


Another Labour source says it might be too optimistic to arrange the timetable today; talks are more likely to be dominated by an election autopsy and by the pros and cons of a Lib Dem deal.

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