James Forsyth

A narrowly constructed plot

A narrowly constructed plot
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Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt's letter calling for a secret ballot on the Labour leadership has wiped out a decent performance by Gordon Brown at PMQs and will revive stories about Labour division and Brown's unpopularity. It is a massive bonus for the Tories in what had been a disappointing week for them up to now.

Hewitt is definitely a Blairite but Hoon is one of those who crossed over to the Brown side while Blair was still PM. However he is a disappointed man, he hoped for the Europe job that Baroness Ashton got to everyone's surprise. If Brown is to be ousted, though, I doubt it will be by these two: this is too narrowly constructed a plot.

One thing does strike me, if the Tories had been able to get word of this development to one of their backbenchers who was on the order paper, they would have been able to embarrass Brown in the way that Hague embarrassed Blair over Alun Michael quitting as leader of the Welsh Assembly.