One thing's for sure: this story is badly timed for Labour – with their recent progress in the polls – and Brown could well do without another bout of leadership wrangling to undermine his premiership.
But what about Burnham – has he got what he takes to become Labour leader? Myself, I suspect he'd be too much of a neither-here-nor-there candidate for the Labour faithful. His Blairite roots (he was expected to jump ship when James Purnell resigned back in June) will put off the increasingly dominant left-wing of the party. Whereas his subsequent backtracking on health reform will put off those on the right of the party. Then again, it's that kind of thing which could see him fill the role of the compromise candidate. Like I said: oh dear.