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30/09/2015 18:28 BST | Updated 30/09/2016 06:12 BST

Labour Party Conference Did Not Break Out Into Civil War - But Give It a Year

We were promised fireworks and until the final day all we really got was sparklers. Labour is having a proper row over whether it should ditch the Trident nuclear weapons system after Jeremy Corbyn said he would never push the button. But until then, it was all going relatively well. Labour civil war? Not yet.

We were promised fireworks and until the final day all we really got was sparklers. Labour is having a proper row over whether it should ditch the Trident nuclear weapons system after Jeremy Corbyn said he would never push the button. But until then, it was all going relatively well. Labour civil war? Not yet.

Discontent from MPs who didn't want Corbyn as leader - ie most of them - was obvious. Even his front bench were questioning his position on Europe and singing the national anthem before they arrived in Brighton. Letting "a thousand flowers bloom" is how one unhappy MP drily characterised the new freedom to speak. But rather than clearing the path for an uprising, conference was more like "group therapy", he said.

Some fringe events - chaired debates in windowless rooms of mid-range hotels - got a bit tasty. The Fabian Society's question time, just hours after Corbyn's main speech, caused some minor tremors. Former Tony Blair adviser John McTernan, who seemed to be the most angry man on the south coast, made little effort to disguise his dismay. "The project of Jeremy Corbyn is not to win the country but to take over the Labour Party," he fumed. His exchanges with writer and Corbyn champion Ellie Mae O'Hagan smacked of a feuding family at the dinner table, passive aggression later giving way to outright hostility.

For the most part, moderates were putting a brave face on things, while the Corbynistas were having the time of their life. Aside from the long, snaking queues for JC's speech, to see veteran left-winger, and now shadow chancellor, John McDonnell being cheered heartily by teenager and twentysomethings to the strains of socialist anthem The Red Flag in a conference bar is to see how the party has changed.

So disharmony suspended. But for how long? There are some factors to consider.

The right/Blairites/"Red Tories" are not ready to strike. If there is agreement on the need to find one challenger candidate, there isn't on who that should be. Keep an eye on the "rubber-chicken circuit", one hack noted. The MPs working small, regional events, and conference fringes, looking to build a powerbase. Ex-Army major Dan Jarvis, who spoke to The Huffington Post's Paul Waugh at a live event, is a name that crops up repeatedly. Tristram Hunt, Stella Creasy and Gloria de Piero too. The idle speculation of barstool philosophers suggest defeated candidates this time round - Yvette Cooper? - might have another tilt.

Organisation. Some MPs mentioned how the moderates are starting to get their act together, and how the Labour First group could be the scratching post for the disaffected. Seen as the voice of the Right of the party, it held an event at conference that spilled out on to the street. Almost Corbynmania-esque. More unity among that wing, rather than the splits that marked the Blair-Brown years, will surely only continue if they have common cause.

The sceptics are also not daft enough to attempt a putsch so soon. "Get Corbyn" against a clutch of bad polls just seems like sour grapes. The man has a mandate from the party, a thumping one at that, so they have to give him a chance.

But fast forward a year. Obvious tests include more polls, local, Scottish and Welsh elections next May, plus the biggie in the short-term: the London mayoral vote. Sadiq Khan's bid is curious. Win, and it could be taken as a justification of Corbynism. That in turn opens up the prospect of a tricky by-election in Tooting when he stands down as MP. Lose, and the moderates are emboldened.

One delegate remarked at how it was easier to get a drink at conference this year. His thesis was there were fewer lobbyists in attendance asking for receipts, a sign the corporate middle men don't think Labour is heading for power any time soon. If next year it looks like the shiny suit brigade is staying away again, and Labour is the "debating society" many fear it could become, it might be as bloody a conference as this one was billed.