“This was not just an error of judgment, these e-mails,” another former Cabinet minister put it. “It’s a total error of character. These changes to the rules about special advisers are completely and totally irrelevant. It’s not about rules, it’s about the moral compass of those involved.”
Senior Labour figures are aware that the techniques used to stifle dissent against Mr Brown in the past are already being used to manipulate the succession in favour of Mr Balls. “They are going to do it again with the succession to Gordon,” said one former Cabinet minister yesterday, “because it’s worked for them so far. They are having a good go at Harriet [Harman]. They are beginning to train their sights on James [Purnell].”
I recently had a conversation with one potential contender for the Labour leadership in the future who said he was not sure he could face running, because “they” would come after him. “They got David [Miliband], they’re getting Harriet [Harman], I don’t want to be next.” Those in the Labour party who want to move beyond the politics of personal destruction and the rule of fear must make sure that no member of the Brown circle succeeds Brown as leader of the Labour party.