Like schoolchildren submitting essays on "what we did on our holidays", Labour MPs returning from their summer break will be required to write their constituency parties a report on what they have achieved and why they should be reselected for the next election.
MPs will be free to say what they like, according to party sources, but those hoping to stand again would be wise not to start with: "I should be reselected to fight my seat again because I have voted frequently against the Government."
Austin Mitchell, one of the MPs currently sucking their pencils, said yesterday: "Our constituency parties get a report from the Chief Whip on our voting records, party members ask us how we've served the constituency and we submit the case for the defence." He predicts that the process will ensure that the Government has a trouble-free autumn "basking in the praises and the devotion of MPs who really love their party and their leader".
But Andrew Mackinlay, the independent-minded MP for Thurrock, is sending his constituency party a report on his performance with clear signals on where he wants the Government to change tack. "An MP who has contact with his constituency when he is selected then has a mandate with the confidence to carry on in the same vein," he said.