The leaderless soft left
You would have to be fairly heartless not to feel sorry for Peter Hain yesterday - a carefully constructed career in ruins because of admin errors in an internal party election. Clearly the Labour Party could do with fewer days like that.
However, every cloud has a silver lining and my view is that we have a stronger, fresher and more ideologically coherent Cabinet line-up after the reshuffle than before, with promotions for a range of sound star performers: Purnell, Burnham, Cooper, Flint, Watson. For a reshuffle that was forced on him, Brown made a good set of promotions.
Peter Hain's resignation leaves the Tribunite "Soft Left" of the Labour Party without any real Cabinet level figurehead for the first time ever.
This is ironic at a time when Compass, the extra-parliamentary embodiment of the Soft Left tradition, is making a lot of noise in the wider party. Jon Cruddas' refusal to take ministerial office last year means they have a serious lack of presence at the heart of government.
The loss of Clare Short through political self-destruction, Robin Cook through tragic premature death and now Hain through bizarre campaign funding screw-up really means that the tradition of Nye Bevan and Harold Wilson lacks a top flight leader.
The same problem hit the Hard Left a decade or so ago - Benn too old, Livingstone not interested in the Commons, everyone else hating each other too much to emerge as a leading figure.
Meanwhile the right of the party, in its various different and overlapping permutations of Brownites, one-time Blairites, old right, and New Labour, has been shown by this reshuffle to have a queue of talented youngsters waiting to get high office. Whatever the short term bleakness of the political picture, that makes me very optimistic about Labour's future.