Peter Hoskin

Another Sunday, another set of damaging rumours for Brown

Another Sunday, another set of damaging rumours for Brown
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Brace yourselves, it's leadership speculation time again.  A story in the Mail on Sunday alleges that Alistair Darling has been attacking Brown in private - "I am trying to talk sense into that man..." - before adding this:

"Last night there were claims that backers of Home Secretary Alan Johnson - widely seen as the stop-gap leader if Mr Brown quits before the General Election - were secretly canvassing 'non-aligned' Labour MPs not closely linked to any potential successor.

Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, who ran Mr Johnson's unsuccessful Labour deputy leadership bid in 2007, was accused of quietly taking names."

Whether true or no', these rumblings tell you everything you need to know about Brown's beleagured premiership.  Darling's spell as stand-in leader has reduced to stories about him undermining the PM's authority; just as the party conference will likely reduce into stories about leadership plots, and the Pre-Budget Report will reduce into stories about the tension between Numbers 10 and 11.  Against that backdrop, it's hard to see Brown making any gains at all between now and the election - especially when what little good luck he does have doesn't bring the results he might have expected.