Roy Hattersley presents a stirring defence of Gordon Brown in a piece which shows him at his sarky best. Dismissing the whispering campaigns suggesting Brown could be on his way, Hattersley says:

“In fact, Gordon Brown will remain in office until, having succeeded Tony Blair as prime minister, he decides that the time has come for reading and writing – two other characteristics which set him aside from the rest of the Labour leadership.”

He also says that the claims the late John Smith wanted Blair not Brown to succeed him are nonsense: . “That is not what he said to me a fortnight before he died. Arguing over the graves of dead heroes is a demeaning way to conduct political debate. But when I read the claim about John Smith’s preference, I could not help counting the attributes which Smith and Brown had in common. One of them might explain some of the briefing against the chancellor. Brown, like John Smith long ago, does not plan to put Peter Mandelson in his cabinet. “

So that’s what its all about then?

And I would have thought the Blair family might have had enough trouble from strange, power-hungry, egotistical opportunists of late.