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However, in the corners of the hotel bar, which usually sees more footballers and their wives than Labour politicians, plotting was afoot. “The talk was all about how long Gordon can go on,” said one who was present. “It had been another torrid week and the question being asked in private was: will he survive until the election?”
One former minister put forward an argument that would have been unthinkable 12 months ago. “It is valid to ask whether we are at the situation the Tories were in the autumn of 1990, when they pondered the coup d’état against Margaret Thatcher,” he said.