The term “fragging” originated in Vietnam. American soldiers who felt their superior was likely to get the killed took the opportunity to assassinate them in the heat of combat.

This is precisely the danger facing Ed Miliband. Today he is reported to have called for “unity and discipline” from his MPs – in essence, a request not to shoot him in the back or allow a grenade to fall conveniently short.

But why does the Labour leader fear his own troops?

Well, for the same reason that a blundering Lieutenant did in the jungle in the late ’60s: they believe he is going to lead them to disaster, and cost them their (political) lives.

Like a grizzled jarhead, grimly filling his magazine, Damian McBride makes the case for the assassination in today’s Times: paranoia, strategic chaos, and poor judgement make Miliband a liability.

His fellow grunts might once have dismissed this as the ravings of someone who’s spent too long fighting the (Viet)Conservatives, but after Heywood and Middleton they appear to be taking him more seriously. If Ed loses the election that’s one thing, but if his leadership threatens those in safe seats, too, then plenty of sitting MPs have something to worry about.

It’s therefore no surprise the Labour leader has developed an itch between his shoulder blades. The question is, what can he do to save himself if there’s a bullet with his name on it?

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