I'm a little confused about the noises coming from around my party's Deputy Leader.
According to Harriet Harman's "supporter" Sally Keeble MP (and why would you have backbench "supporters" speaking on your behalf to the media unless you were up to something?) "Harriet has distinct views and speaks out for them".
I thought though that in the UK system of government we had a doctrine of Cabinet collective responsibility which meant that Ministers never expressed their own, distinct views and spoke out on them, but instead debated matters in private in Cabinet and publicly supported Cabinet decisions - to the extent that no one should ever know the individual views of specific Ministers.
Surely what Ms Keeble meant to say is "Harriet is a loyal member of the Government and I have no idea if she privately disagrees with some government policies as she would never be so indiscreet as to undermine her boss the PM, her colleagues or the collective position of the Cabinet by letting her individual views be known."
Politicalbetting.com is right to point repeatedly to Harriet's win in the Deputy Leadership election as evidence that she would be the front runner to win a Leadership election if a vacancy existed (assuming Alan Johnson doesn't develop a sudden enthusiasm for campaigning to win which he seemed to so distinctly lack in the 2007 Deputy race). That's one of the main reasons why I don't want a vacancy to exist - partly because I don't like some of Harriet's politics (which carry a little too much baggage from her 1980s youth for my liking) and partly because, as commenters on PB.com have also stated, in a kind of mirror image of the Republican adoration of Sarah Palin, the appeal she has amongst Labour electoral college voters is not one that is expected to translate into electability with the wider British public.
The one way Harriet could really damage her chances of getting the top job is by being seem to undermine Brown. Labour doesn't like disloyalty. As Michael Heseltine observed, "he [or she?] who wields the knife seldom wears the crown."