What is making news, though, is what Boulton reveals about relations between the Blairites and Brownites. In a way, it is no surprise that Blair regards Brown as a quitter not a fighter. Brown’s avoidance of contests where the result is not certain has been a feature of his political career. Again, it is—when you think about it—not a shock that some in Blair’s circle think that Brown might leave Downing Street early to avoid being the Labour Prime Minister who takes the party down to one of its worst-ever defeats. But these stories being injected into the political bloodstream at the start of conference season will not help Brown. It will create yet more chatter about his position.
One other thing worth noting is that Tessa Jowell initially intended to follow James Purnell in resigning. She was dining with Lord Falconer, who had already called in code for Brown to go, when the news of Purnell’s departure broke. Boulton reports that she was talked out of leaving by Woodward and Mandelson and the offer of a return to the cabinet. If she had resigned, it probably wouldn’t have made much difference. She would have been seen as just another dissatisfied Blairite. But if she was prepared to go in June, one wonders what she is thinking now.