Labour MPs have accused Garner of “making up” his story about a coup being under way against Shearer. But only a moment’s thought is required to expose this accusation for the nonsense it is.
Garner has confirmed that his informant was a member of the Labour Party caucus. Presumably, he or she was someone who had vouchsafed information to Garner in the past – information which had proved to be reliable.
The maelstrom of criticism into which Garner has been unceremoniously pitched, since his predictions of last Thursday night were proved wrong, provides the strongest argument as to why he would not have tweeted without feeling extremely confident about the rumour’s veracity.
(Just to make sure, however, he sought and received confirmation from a second Labour Party source.)
That Garner was given what the Americans would call “a bum steer” should tell him (and us) that the atmosphere in Labour’s caucus is becoming increasingly toxic.
Is the source the same one who told One News and Three News staff Shearer had two months to improve?
So, why did Garner’s coup rumour fail to stack up? Let’s go through the explanatory options.
1) Some sort of leadership coup was on, but Garner’s tweet alerted Shearer’s supporters and the organisers were forced to abort. (Despairing Labour MPs may simply have been gathering sufficient signatures to persuade their leader to go gracefully and preserve the party from a debilitating civil war.)
2) No coup was imminent, but Garner’s source considered it vital that Shearer be forced to endure yet another destabilising round of media speculation concerning the viability of his leadership. (So vital that they were willing to abuse and lose Garner’s trust.)
3) For reasons of their own, Shearer’s backers decided to undermine Garner’s journalistic credibility by deliberately misinforming him that a coup was under way.
My pick is No 2.