Amidst all the uncertainty about the position Labour will take on bombing Syria, one thing that intensely irritates me is the claim of the party's "moderates" that Jeremy Corbyn has no business imposing any kind of discipline on MPs, given his long record of rebelling against his predecessors. The rules of the game are actually pretty simple -
1) You can't vote against the party line on a motion of confidence in the government. (If you do, you'll be suspended or expelled from the parliamentary party.)
2) If you vote against the party line on a three-line whip, you have to give advance warning and explain yourself.
3) Except in unusual circumstances, you can't defy the whip if you're a minister or a shadow minister. If you do, you'll be expected to leave the front bench.
To the best of my knowledge, Jeremy Corbyn has not broken any of these rules since he became an MP in 1983. If he had, in all likelihood he would not be Labour leader now, because the whip would have been withdrawn and he would not have been eligible to put himself forward.
So if a whip is imposed on Syria or any other vote, Corbyn will simply be asking MPs to adhere to exactly the same rules he was bound by as a backbencher. They'll have the same freedom to rebel that he had - although Shadow Cabinet members and other frontbenchers will have to pay a heavy price if they exercise that freedom. And it might not be a bad thing for Corbyn in the long run if some of the "moderates" in his team force him into sacking them, because at the moment his ecumenicism is proving more of a weakness than a strength.