David Miliband started out in the box seat, he was the senior player. When there was a view that Brown should be challenged for the leadership last summer, Purnell played a behind the scenes role backing the abortive Miliband bid.
But now with Purnell displaying the backbone that Miliband lacks so conspicuously, the roles have been reversed. If Brown staggers on to lead Labour to massive defeat, Purnell will be one of the few Labour politicians who can say, ‘I did everything I could to try and spot this’. This will give him a USP for the leadership contest that will follow.
If Brown does go, Purnell will be the man who started the end game. That will make him a player. While people will remember how Miliband bottled it much as he did last summer.