News just in – following Labour’s dismal collapse in the Crewe and Natwich by-election, Graham Stringer MP has called for a leadership challenge to Gordon Brown to prevent a "disastrous" election in 2010.
"Is it more damaging for the party to change the leader or cross our fingers and hope that things get better?" the Manchester MP told BBC Online.
Alan Simpson MP has also weighed in, warning Brown that he has until the end of the year to turn things around, or face deposition.
This development follows soundings from within Westminster that either Charles Clarke or Alan Milburn, both uber-Blairites with Cabinet experience, could make a stalking horse challenge to encourage a more heavyweight challenger such as David Miliband, Alan Johnson or even Brown’s first lieutenant Ed Balls, to enter the fray.
This blogger has consistently held that Brown would be safe, at least until the next election, on the basis that seventy MPs would need to sign a motion calling for a challenge – a considerable hurdle deliberately placed to reduce damaging contests – and the fact that Labour would look ridiculous deposing its leader less than a year after unanimously electing him.
However, with tumbling polls and this latest humiliating by-election defeat, it’s no wonder that Labour MPs with less than secure majorities are beginning to get tetchy.
This could get messy…