The hidden battle for control of Labour

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell want unity in the Labour party on their terms and in their image. Credit: PA

You might remember that only yesterday on Peston on Sunday, John McDonnell conceded defeat in the battle over how new NEC seats for Scotland and Wales are chosen.

Or at least that is what I thought. He said that Jeremy Corbyn's preference to have those places selected by Labour members - as opposed to going to the respective leaders of the Scottish and Welsh Labour parties - had been rejected by the NEC on Saturday night and that was "fair enough".

Issue settled, surely?

Well no.

I have just learned that for the third or fourth time, at the NEC early this morning, Corbyn and his allies tried (abortively) to overturn the earlier NEC decision and to push through their preferred route for having the Scottish and Welsh seats selected.

What on earth are they up to? Why do two NEC seats matter so much to them?

It's all about who controls the party - and since the NEC is Labour's ruling body, it's crucial to Corbyn and his allies that they control the NEC.

And the problem with having the Scottish and Welsh leaders on the NEC - currently Kezia Dugdale and Carwyn Jones respectively - is that he cannot control them.

Carwyn Jones, Kezia Dugdale and Jeremy Corbyn during the EU referendum campaign. Credit: PA

In fact if they do join the NEC, Corbyn's tiny in-built majority on the NEC would vanish.

Bad news for him.

So it is expected that Corbyn and the Corbynistas will try again at tomorrow's NEC to have Dugdale and Jones kept off the NEC.

And if one of their opponents on the NEC has one too many tonight and fails to turn up at the NEC at 7.30am tomorrow, they'll get their way.

The point is that the real deadline for all this is when Labour's conference votes on the NEC's proposed constitutional rule changes, later on Tuesday.

And conference normally votes the way the NEC recommends. So Corbyn has very little time now to preserve his grip on the NEC.

Anyway if you've read this far (you are dogged) you may wonder why this row over the NEC's makeup is so significant.

Well it is because it shows quite how badly Corbyn and McDonnell want to run and own the Labour Party - and the lengths they will go to secure their control.

Yes they want unity. But they want unity on their terms and in their image.