Incredible. One week ago everyone knew Gordon Brown was on the ropes, but no one could have predicted the speed at which the cabinet splintered. It reminds me of last autumn, except then the banks and markets were tanking, not political careers. In an attempt to rescue the situation - set against the backdrop of the worst local election results ever, awful European election results to come, the long shadow of multiple resignations, AND a calculated and unnecessary by-election - Brown has reshuffled his cabinet, replacing one set of New Labour clones with an attack of another. As if to underline the maelstrom, as I write Caroline Flint announced her resignation, despite pledging her unswerving loyalty last night.
Take the James Purnell affair. It says everything about the chaos engulfing the government that the resignation of such a senior minister, which in ordinary times would dominate the politics agenda for days, excited the headlines for just a few hours. These manouevres have the happy consequence of cleaning nearly all the Blairites out from the upper echelons of government. For all the talk of Blairite coups chances are the treacherous actions of Blears, Flint and Purnell will stain their Labour party careers long after Brown has gone. Few on the mainstream and left of Labour will shed a tear if they were deselected ahead of the general election.
But you would be hard pressed to find political differences behind the factional infighting. On the continuing dismemberment of public services, the wasteful and authoritarian ID card scheme, the crisis management strategy, the war in Afghanistan - leading Blairites are in 100% agreement with Brown. At least when Howe and Heseltine toppled Thatcher, her disastrous Poll Tax policy was part of their calculations. But for Purnell and his colleagues it's all about power, position and personality; not politics.
Who benefits from this state of affairs? Not the Labour left. The Labour Representation Committee, Socialist Campaign Group of MPs and even Compass command next to zero media attention beyond the left ghetto. And neither will the left outside. No2EU really missed a trick by not moving away from the Communist Party/RMT position of refusing to take up seats to the Socialist Party's pledge to do so on the basis of a workers' wage. As long as we stay weak, divided and pulling in different directions it will be the right who exploit the fallout of New Labour's meltdown.