Simon Danczuk is set to appear before a star chamber of the National Executive Committee this morning to learn whether he will be readmitted to the party and allowed to stand as the official Labour candidate for his Rochdale seat.
Suspended from the party since December 2015 following newspaper allegations about his private life, Danczuk had previously earned widespread praise for his tenacity in exposing his predecessor, Sir Cyril Smith, as a sexual predator.
His disciplinary case is now a microcosm of a bigger debate within the party.
As Atul noted the other day, it boils down to whether Labour’s priority at this election is maximising the number of Labour MPs returned, or positioning for post-election control of the party.
If the former, the NEC has to allow Danczuk to stand.
Despite his ubiquity in the tabloid media, he remains popular among his constituents and is a solid and determined campaigner.
In 2015, he increased his majority from 889 in 2010 to 12,442.
The Rochdale seat is mercurial for Labour. Having oscillated between Labour and the Liberal Democrats in recent elections, Danczuk remains Labour’s best chance of holding it.
If, however, the party leadership is more concerned with the composition of the post-election parliamentary party- and the potential of getting a bloc of left-wingers who will nominate a left-wing successor to Corbyn – then removing a vocal critic of the leadership like Danczuk may be the over-riding consideration.
Is Labour a serious political party focused on winning an election, or a fan club? The treatment meted out to Simon Danczuk will tell us.