For a long time, I have wondered about the potential of John Denham as a candidate from the soft left of the Labour party. Ever since the death of Robin Cook who would have been the obvious candidate and given Brown a serious run for his money from the left- the problem is that John McDonnell is someone who has never held ministerial office and whose last political office was within London in the 1980s. Michael Meacher didn't oppose the Iraq war, beleives in 9/11 conspiracy theories and failed to even attract the support of even his campaign launch chair. Cook would have offered them someone who believed in a leftwing version of Blairism- essentially opposed to some of the later reforms but not someone who instinctively wanted a socialist revolution. Denham in many ways is a lower profile version of Cook- again he has a distinguished record as a minister and select committee chairman. He resigned over the Iraq war and also has opposed some of the more incredible leglislative gambles taken by the government whilst remaining broadly supportive- unlike say Claire Short he has been scrupulously loyal in the broad sense whilst demonstrating that he has a leftwing conscience. Iain Dale and Mike Smithson have both suggested that Denham is looking like running- Smithson has even placed a bet on him. The issue has always been to me whether Denham wants to run- but indisputably he has the credibility to run both as a former minister and as a principled politician from the left.
If it is and it looks like it will be true that no candidate is able to garner enough signatures from the right of the party (remember that the signatures are all public so any MPs on the right signing will be signing their political death warrent), it looks to me like the only serious candidate could emerge from the left- and the only serious candidate for the Premiership to me available from the left is John Denham. Meacher and McDonnell just look to me like stalking horses- Denham's the closest thing they have to Robin Cook.
Though my fancy is there will be many on the left of the Labour party cursing Robin Cook's weak heart when Gordon Brown becomes Prime Minister.