Geoff Hoon's email:
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.
Of course poor old Cyclops trundles out Geraldine "Nice But Dim" Smith, the dense MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale to defend him. This from t'Yorkshire Post:
Labour loyalist Geraldine Smith insisted there was "no appetite" for a ballot and dismissed internal party critics as "joke figures".
"I think it will probably be a fading story by the end of the day and we will be back looking at the snow and the weather conditions, hopefully.
"I don't think there is any appetite within the Parliamentary Labour Party to have a secret ballot," she told the BBC.
"It is no shock that Charles Clarke doesn't support the Prime Minister but he keeps going. He was sending emails round last week - he even sent me one so he has not got very good intelligence because I have been clearly behind the Prime Minister, as have many Labour MPs.
"People like Charles Clarke have just become joke figures really, they are just not taken seriously any more."
I'd have thought Geraldine would have more pressing matters to attend to. Such as applying for jobs, I'm sure she will need some income after she loses her seat on May 6th or even earlier now. Who knows?