Little wonder that Brown was more than a little tetchy at PMQs yesterday. The Royal Mail dispute has left him in a very exposed position. It was not so much that Cameron called him ‘weak’, which struck home, but more to do with Mandelson.
Mandy is being attacked by the CWU for blocking a settlement and 131 Labour MPs are backing a motion supporting the postal workers' union. There can be little doubt that Cabinet ministers are also privately questioning Mandy’s role.
Back in June, Mandy played the key role in ensuring the that half-baked coup did not succeed. He was listened to and respected then, as he was when he gave his rather self-indulgent conference speech pledging his support and loyalty to Brown.
The postal dispute rather changes the dynamics. Mandy's protective shield around Brown is no longer impregnable. He has little credibility left with Labour MPs nor with the unions, both who have to kept onside if Brown is to remain as party leader.
The obvious point is that any backbench coup or Cabinet rebellion is now far more likely to succeed than it was before the postal dispute blew up. Mandy, so instrumental in shoring up Brown’s position, could very well facilitate his downfall.