Martin Bright

The Generation Game

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The rhododendron flowers are out, so it must be time for the  big beasts of the Labour Party to stir again. Charles Clarke has said that he's ashamed to be a Labour MP after the events of the past few weeks. Well, who wouldn't be? Clarke says there are no signs of a leadership challenge, but I'm not so sure. I think Frank Field is right that if the European and local elections on 4 June are as bad as expected, we might see a summer of serious speculation about Brown's position. We are back preceisely where we were last summer.

David Blunkett has entered the fray again. I thought he was rather good on the radio this morning: sounding a warning without sounding disloyal. But he is right that there has been a "catastrophic meltdown of trust". He like other Labour MPs will have heard the message from his local party that members are horrified by what is going on.

Blunkett has never been Gordon Brown's greatest fan since the early days of New Labour when he developed his own alternative economic policy in what was then the Employment section of the Department for Education and Employment. But his intervention has been measured and all the more powerful for that.

Meanwhile, John Prescott's Go 4th campaign remains the highpoint in an otherwise desperate vista.

In the end though, all this big beast activity will mean nothing until the younger generation of Labour MPs and ministers begin to rouse themsleves. The sheer intensity of the Brownite attack on David Miliband last year was a sign of how seriously it was taken in Number 10. Any younger Cabinet member who went on manoeuvres would have to expect the same again. Are they prepared for that? Somehow I doubt it.