Hain has no intention of totally burning his bridges, he tells Melissa Kite that if “Gordon wants me to do something that really makes a difference then I would happily do that.” But Hain appears to be putting himself forward as someone who can be a substantial figure in the regeneration of the party, something that is far more likelty to happen in opposition than in government. He notes how Blair and Brown disapproved of his criticisms of City bonuses in 2007 even though the public and Labour MPs “really liked it” and criticises the lack of a “distinctive Labour narrative” and a “compelling prospectus for progressive government”.
Realistically, Hain can’t imagine he’ll be a serious candidate for the top job or even for the deputy position after his poor performance in the 2007 race. But he can believe that he can get himself voted back into the shadow Cabinet. The prospect of shadow Cabinet elections is going to catalyse the collapse in Labour discipline as everyone who wants to comeback and play a role in opposition starts scrambling to carve out political ground for themselves.