Dissent growing among the Labour ranks

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When a prominent Labour backbencher, Simon Danczuk, has the temerity to publicly denounce his party’s leadership as “a laughable shambles” and accuses Jeremy Corbyn of attacking the Government with a peashooter instead of heavy artillery, you know that something is seriously awry with the state of Her Majesty’s Opposition.

Indeed it is not only Danczuk who is critical of the Corbyn team, but others as well, who have made no secret of their concern at the way the party is being run.

This is evidenced by the fact that no fewer than 21 Labour MPs defied the whips’ orders that they should vote against the Government’s plans on budget deficits.

This followed the humiliating U-turn on this issue by the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. It was a moment for Labour’s political enemies to savour.

No action was taken against those who defied the whip. Even so, it would have been difficult for Corbyn to have punished them given his own impressive record as a rebel when he was on the back benches.

It was charitable of right-wing Labour MP Frank Field to excuse this volte-face by saying that Corbyn and McDonnell were still inexperienced in the art of leadership.

Even so, I predict that many Labour MPs will grow more truculent of the leadership. Corbyn certainly has a bumpy ride ahead of him.

Meanwhile, David Cameron has his domestic problems too with some recalcitrant Cabinet members. They have asked him for permission to vote in favour of Britain quitting the EU when the time comes. I trust he will give way. The system – that still exists – which, through the whips, forces people to vote against their will on such huge issues, is not a healthy one.

n A little premature, I know, but if I were asked to lay a bet on who would be named the outstanding politician of 2015, I would unhesitatingly opt for Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister.

Barely anyone south of Hadrian’s Wall had even heard of her before the general election television contests involving the party leaders.

But she surprised everybody by her cool, concise and determined manner.

She won easily on points over her rivals.