Peter Hain’s resignation was inevitable once the police were called in to look into the shambolic financing of his doomed attempt to become Labour’s deputy leader. After coming fifth in the contest (who came sixth? Can’t remember), he must be wishing he hadn’t bothered.
But the big question at Westminster this afternoon is whether Gordon Brown will use this as a chance to beef up his cabinet, which many Labour MPs believe is lacking in heavyweights: people who can take the fight to the Tories.
One option would be to bring in a promising middle-ranking minister. Liam Byrne, the able immigration minister, would be an obvious choice but he is hardly a household name. Yvette Cooper, highly trusted by Mr Brown, could be promoted from housing.
The bolder choice would be to bring back in one of the big beasts of the Blair government. There a number of contenders biting their tongues on the backbenches, waiting to be brought back into the fold.
They include Charles Clarke, David Blunkett, Alan Milburn or Stephen Byers. Most have been loyally silent (apart from Mr Clarke, who lapsed but appears to have been forgiven). Mr Byers sued for peace over the Christmas period, saying that Tony Blair was “history”.
But is Mr Brown ready to bring these arch-modernisers back into the cabinet, perhaps signalling a shift back towards a more Blairite “choice” agenda?
Normally one would expect the PM to make a speedy choice on Mr Hain’s replacement. We’ll probably find out this afternoon. But don’t rule out – as an outside bet – that Mr Brown’s reputation as a ditherer may apply to his first enforced cabinet reshuffle.