Last night we learnt that David Cameron would enjoy a notional lead of 15% if Gordon Brown was Labour leader.  If that didn’t upset the Chancellor this morning’s FT must really have got him worked up.

Lord Turnbull, who was Mr Brown’s Permanent Secretary at the Treasury for four years before becoming Cabinet Secretary, accuses the Chancellor of "Stalinist ruthlessness" and using his department to treat ministerial colleagues with "more or less complete contempt."

According to the FT’s Nicholas Timmins Mr Brown holds a “very cynical view of mankind and his colleagues”.  “He cannot allow them any serious discussion about priorities. His view is that it is just not worth it and ‘they will get what I decide’. And that is a very insulting process,” Lord Turnbull said.

This is not, of course, the first time that people who have worked closely with Gordon Brown have found his conduct wanting.  A Downing Street insider (perhaps even Blair himself) once told Andrew Rawnsley that Mr Brown was psychologically-flawed and Charles Clarke launched an extraordinary attack on his Cabinet colleague after resigning last year.

Labour MPs must surely now be considering the once-impossible thought that Gordon Brown is not the man to succeed Tony Blair.  Unlike Iain Dale, I do not worry about David Miliband.  Someone recently told me that Mr Miliband looked like the sort of boy who would be bullied in the school playground.  I don’t think he could best Cameron.  If I were Labour I’d be very interested in the idea of John Denham.  The idea – floated on a little while ago – may be Labour’s last and best hope.  Articulate, respected by colleagues, representing a southern seat, very knowledgeable about crime because of his Chairmanship of the Home Affairs Select Committee and only out of the Cabinet because of his decision to resign over the Iraq war, Mr Denham could be a credible opponent to Mr Brown.  He would be a man much more likely to represent a breath of fresh air.  Interesting times.

This is certainly the time for a powerful Labour blogging community to emerge.  On Comment is free yesterday, Mike Ion argued that left-of-centre blogging was on the rise and could be a big factor in the deputy leadership race.  My advice is this: the most powerful Labour blog will be the one that begins a Stop Brown campaign and now.  The US left wouldn’t have waited this long.  Labour’s grassroots shouldn’t wait for Milburn and Clarke to act – they should begin a netroots movement now.  Perhaps we Tories should be mounting a Save Brown campaign?

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