There are new and potentially fascinating developments on the Labour leadership front, I hear. Serious plans are being formed by some Labour MPs to install an "anti-Brown" candidate as the next chairman of the parliamentary party. It is all part of a fresh attempt to oust the prime minister before the general election.Combine this with thrusting new Speccy editor, Fraser Nelson's, devastating article this fair morn, citing an earlier, even more devastating article by Trevor Kavanagh from the same publication, about the personal responsibility Brown bears for the decline in just about every area of British existence, and you have to say that James Forsyth's question yesterday, "Can Brown make it through December?" is looking a tad optimistic. I'm beginning to wonder whether he's going to "make it" much past the Labour Party conference.
The MPs – including several former ministers – are urging senior figures including the education select committee chairman, Barry Sheerman, to put themselves forward to replace the current PLP chairman Tony Lloyd, who is seen by rebels as too much of a Brown loyalist.
Sheerman, a very senior figure in the PLP, has turned against Brown recently and would be seen by the whips as a de facto stalking horse, no less. Crucially, the PLP election, which will take place when parliament returns next month, will be conducted by secret ballot, meaning MPs do not have to own up to their choice.
Last night, Sheerman refused to comment but friends made absolutely clear he could and would be persuaded to stand if they could provide him with evidence that he would get sufficient support. Soundings will be taken among MPs at Labour's conference in Brighton later this month.
One backbencher said a challenge to Lloyd from Sheerman would throw the party into another period of "prolonged and vicious" leadership infighting.
The rebels are clearly trying to gain a foothold in positions of authority to try to persuade people from within that the game us is up for GB.
"An anti-Brown candidate like Sheerman would be supported by the 60 to 70 or so hardliners who are known to want Brown out, that is for sure," said one Labour MP.
"The question would be, how many more would join? That would depend on how things go over the conference season. The whips will pull out all the stops to prevent this. If it happens it will be ugly."
During the last coup attempt against Brown in June, Sheerman, who described himself as a "serialist loyalist" by nature, suprised colleagues with vehement criticisms of the prime minister.
He said he believed the parliamentary party was no longer listened to and he was not sure Brown was the right man to lead the party into the next election.
Sheerman complained to Lloyd about the way MPs such as Ian Gibson, who was forced out of Norwich North seat because of the expenses scandal, had been treated by the party machine.
The rebels are also planning to field their own candidate for one of the seats on the influential parliamentary committee, which conveys the views of the parliamentary party to the prime minister in regular meetings held in deep secrecy.
Some senior Labour figures who want Brown out, believe that if they keep up the pressure, and instal their people in positions of influence at the top of the party, then they might be able to persuade Brown to leave No 10 of his own accord. One theory is that Brown might cite his declining eyesight as a reason for leaving before the election.
The difficulty for the rebels is that they still have no candidate with whom to replace Brown. Alan Johnson, the home secretary, is still regarded as the best choice by most MPs but he has insisted he will not move against Brown and does not want the job.
Another backbencher said that despite Johnson's comments, the intention was to leave him with no option. "If things go according to plan, Johnson will come under intense pressure in the next few weeks."
Ed Miliband, who was tipped as a successor to Brown by Unite's joint general secretary Derek Simpson on the eve of this week's TUC Congress, is also being talked up as a possibility although he, also, remains loyal to the prime minister.
It simply can't go on like this - not in terms of Labour (who cares what happens to them?) - but in terms of the country. Someone has to say it out loud: we have no functioning government in the UK right now. It's leading to corrosion and decline at home and humiliation abroad. And for what? So a clinically depressed, medicated incompetent without a shred of decency in him can keep the job for which he is so patently unfit right up to the bitter end.
I've said it before and I'll say it again until that wicked, unelected fool is gone: even if they don't give a toss about the damage Brown has done/is doing to the country, someone in the Labour party better wake-up to the damage Brown is doing to their party and get rid of him with all convenient speed or the electorate will never, never forgive them for putting some wrong-headed, short-term form of self-interest before the needs of the nation they are supposed to serve.
But if Helm and the others are right, then we won't have much longer to wait until Brown is finally, finally, gone.