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8.45pm

Douglas Alexander backs Brown saying "he has shown he can deliver for the British people".

8.30pm

LabourList is publishing some of the replies that Labour MPs have sent to Hoon and Hewitt. Click here to read them.

7pm

David Miliband finally issues a statement in support of Brown: "I am working
closely with the Prime Minister on foreign policy issues and support the re-election
campaign for a Labour Government that he is leading."

As does Harriet Harman: "We're all getting on with the job as ministers in the government which
Gordon Brown leads. We're all united in our determination to do what's
best for the country, which is for Labour, led by Gordon Brown, to win
the general election."

6.30pm

Labour MP Fiona MacTaggart has written to Tony Lloyd backing the ballot.

5.30pm

Jack Straw says that Hoon and Hewitt's challenge is "ill-advised, it's not going anywhere and nor should it". "He adds that "it's a distraction, we could have done without it", but that the Cabinet is united in its backing for Gordon Brown.

5pm:

Alan Johnson says Gordon Brown is the best man to lead the Labour Party; Alistair Darling says Labour should be concentrating on the business of government; Ed Miliband also backs Brown to the hilt and says he has the support of the Cabinet and the vast majority of Labour backbenchers.

4.45pm:

Tony McNulty says that Hoon and Hewitt are being unhelpful and gives Brown his full backing.

4pm:

Daniel Finkelstein is keeping tabs on what Cabinet Ministers have or haven't said about the plot.

3.45pm:

Government Chief Whip Nick Brown puts out statement saying there is "no significant support for this unhelpful gesture".

A post on CentreRight from Melanchthon: With Brown, or without him, Labour doesn't have the cojones

3.30pm update:

Lord Mandelson has issued a statement saying that there has been "a complete overreaction" and that "these people are not members of the government, no-one is resigning from the government".

Ed Balls appears on Sky News to echo that and say that ministers are getting on with their jobs and that Gordon Brown is best placed to lead the Labour Party and the country etc.

Transport minister Sadiq Khan give Brown his unequivocal support.

We have posted two videos of the two main protaginists explaining themselves:

3.15pm update:

Shaun Woodward has backed Brown on Sky News, as has PLP chairman Tony Lloyd, along with Labour MPs Andy Burnham, David Blunkett, Margaret Beckett, John Healey, John Mann and Geraldine Smith also supporting the Prime Minister.

Charles Clarke, Frank Field and Barry Sheerman are said to be backing the move for a secret ballot on Brown's future.

But still no word from any senior Cabinet minsters – although Jack Straw is rumoured to be coming out to back Brown shortly.

Elsewhere on ConHome so far this afternoon:

  • Tim Montgomerie: What the Cameron leadership wants (and doesn't want) from the SnowStorm Plot
    Paul Goodman MP: "Some will argue that a new Labour leader would be better for us; others
    the opposite.  What’s certain is that a general election now would be
    best for the country."
  • Ben Rogers: "If Labour MPs cannot decide whether or not they have confidence in
    their party's leader, why on earth do they think the British people can
    be expected to have confidence in their leadership?"
  • Jonathan Isaby: Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt are singing from David Cameron's hymn sheet


Eric Pickles cheerful1pm update: Eric Pickles has delivered his verdict on the latest Labour infighting:

“We have a situation now where everyday a Labour MP is turning on the Prime Minister. It’s irresponsible to have such a dysfunctional, faction ridden Labour party running the country. Ministers are more concerned about saving their own political skin than actually getting Britain out of the monumental mess we are in. We cannot go on like this. The only responsible thing the Government can do is call a general election.”

The former Labour Chief Whip, Geoff Hoon, and Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt, have written to all Labour MPs this morning calling for a secret ballot on Gordon Brown's leadership. Unbelievable stuff for such senior party figures to be renewing the efforts to oust Brown this near to the general election.

More to follow shortly.

Guido has posted the devastating full text of their letter:

Dear Colleague,

As we move towards a General Election
it remains the case that the Parliamentary Labour Party is deeply
divided over the question of the leadership. Many colleagues have
expressed their frustration at the way in which this question is
affecting our political performance. We have therefore come to the
conclusion that the only way to resolve this issue would be to allow
every member to express their view in a secret ballot.

This could be done quickly and with
minimum disruption to the work of MPs and the Government. Whatever the
outcome the whole of the party could then go forward, knowing that this
matter had been sorted out once and for all.

Strong supporters of the Prime Minister
should have no difficulty in backing this approach. There is a risk
otherwise that the persistent background briefing and grumbling could
continue up to and possibly through the election campaign, affecting
our ability to concentrate all of our energies on getting our real
message across.
Equally those who want change, should they lose such a vote, would be
expected by the majority of the PLP to devote all of their efforts to
winning the election. The implications of such a vote would be clear –
everyone would be bound to support the result.

This is a clear opportunity to finally
lay this matter to rest. The continued speculation and uncertainty is
allowing our opponents to portray us as dispirited and disunited. It is
damaging our ability to set out our strong case to the electorate. It
is giving our political opponents an easy target.

In what will inevitably be a difficult
and demanding election campaign, we must have a determined and united
parliamentary party. It is our job to lead the fight against our
political opponents. We can only do that if we resolve these
distractions. We hope that you will support this proposal.

Yours fraternally,

Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt

Jonathan Isaby

81 comments for: Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt call for ballot on Gordon Brown’s leadership

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