Jim Pickard Andy Burnham’s leadership potential

I was intrigued to see Paul Waugh describing Andy Burnham as a potential Labour leader in his blog this afternoon. Not least because a senior Labour figure had raised the prospect to me earlier in the day.

Except his endorsement was not exactly the most ringing:

“I can see a John Major type character emerging from the ranks in the ensuing pandemonium. Someone without any obvious leadership qualities, who no one has picked out beforehand.”

Ironically, being fingered this early on could actually count against – for example – the doe-eyed health secretary.

Meanwhile another former minister says, enigmatically: “It all depends what James Purnell does”. Purnell may want to take a less painful career path in the private sector. But he did show surprising mettle by resigning in protest at Gordon Brown’s leadership.

Of course, David Miliband has become the favourite in recent weeks, simply by choosing to reject the job of EU high rep (foreign secretary) to take the more difficult path of opposition domestic politics. But others think that the Brownite caucus will be able to transfer power from their boss to Ed Balls.

One Labour source tells me that Unite – where Charlie Whelan is political officer – will throw its weight behind Balls. He believes that Derek Simpson’s backing for Ed Miliband is simply a smokescreen.

One thing is clear. None of them have a clue how it will pan out in the bloody aftermath of an electoral defeat; that makes next June an exciting time for British politics.