A POLITICIAN named as one of the 12 rebel Labour MPs plotting to dethrone Prime Minister Gordon Brown ahead of the party conference has denied being involved.
Hayes and Harlington MP John McDonnell was said to be working with colleagues including Janet Anderson and Gordon Prentice to campaign for election forms to be sent out to every single Labour MP.
However, while backing the need for a change in the party, Mr McDonnell says he is not one of the dozen and has liked the infighting to 'watching the crew having a punch-up on the deck of the Titanic'.
He said: "I am always up for a leadership election, but this is infighting between Blairites and Brownites who have no political difference between them - only personalities."
Mr McDonnell made his position clear in a letter to a national newspaper where he added: "Just to set the record straight I am not part of this plot and have not asked for leadership nomination papers.
"I am still up for a leadership election if there is one but it must be based upon a thoroughgoing, open debate about policies and not personalities.
"The two New Labour factions currently slugging it out have barely a policy difference between them and have supported every New Labour policy over the last 11 years, which has led us to the brink of a Tory government.
"In July I suggested a compromise route through the current impasse to hold the party together. I proposed having a structured and inclusive policy debate about the future for Labour.
"If this demonstrates support for the need for radical change, as I suspect, it is only in this context that the party should convene an election for a new leader."
The Labour conference begins this weekend in Manchester and Mr McDonnell said: "I think the senior figures will spin this row and smooth it over and we will end up with a very stage-managed conference."